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Notice

Notice of Proposed Individual Exemption Involving the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. (BS), Bear Stearns Asset Management, Inc. (BSAM), and Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. (BSC) (collectively, the Applicants) Located in New York, NY

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed individual exemption.

SUMMARY:

This document contains a notice of pendency before the Department of Labor (the Department) of a proposed individual exemption from certain prohibited transaction restrictions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (the Act) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the Code). If granted, the proposed exemption would permit the purchase of certain securities (the Securities), by an asset management affiliate of BS from any person other than such asset management affiliate of BS or any affiliate thereof, during the existence of an underwriting or selling syndicate with respect to such Securities, where a Start Printed Page 67905broker-dealer affiliated with BS (the Affiliated Broker-Dealer) is a manager or member of such syndicate and the asset management affiliate of BS purchases such Securities, as a fiduciary: (a) On behalf of an employee benefit plan or employee benefit plans (Client Plan(s)); or (b) on behalf of Client Plans, and/or in-house plans (In-House Plans) which are invested in a pooled fund or in pooled funds (Pooled Fund(s)); provided certain conditions as set forth, below are satisfied (an affiliated underwriter transaction (AUT)).[1] The proposed exemption, if granted, would affect Client Plans and In-House Plans and their participants and beneficiaries.

DATES:

Effective Date: If granted, this proposed exemption will be effective as of the date the final exemption is published in the Federal Register.

Written Comments and Hearing Requests

All interested persons are invited to submit written comments and/or requests for a public hearing on the pending exemption to the address, as set forth below, within the time frame, as set forth below. All comments and requests for a public hearing will be made a part of the record. Comments and hearing requests should state the reasons for the writer's interest in the proposed exemption. A request for a public hearing must also state the issues to be addressed and include a general description of the evidence to be presented at the hearing. Comments and hearing requests received will also be available for public inspection with the referenced application at the address, as set forth below.

DATES:

Written comments and requests for a public hearing on the proposed exemption should be submitted to the Department within 45 days from the date of publication of this Federal Register Notice.

ADDRESSES:

All written comments and requests for a public hearing concerning the proposed exemption should be sent to the Office of Exemptions Determinations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5700, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210, Attention: Application No. D-11381. Alternatively, interested persons are invited to submit comments or hearing requests to the Department by e-mail to leblanc.angelena@dol.gov or by facsimile at (202) 219-0204.

Notice to Interested Persons

Notice of the proposed exemption will be provided to all interested persons in the manner agreed upon by the Applicants and the Department within 15 days of the date of publication in the Federal Register. Such notice shall include a copy of the notice of proposed exemption as published in the Federal Register and shall inform interested persons of their right to comment and to request a hearing (where appropriate).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This document contains a notice of proposed individual exemption from the restrictions of section 406 of the Act and section 4975(c)(1)(A)-(F) of the Code. The proposed exemption has been requested in an application filed by BS, BSAM, and BSC, pursuant to section 408(a) of the Act and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code and in accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR part 2570, subpart B (55 FR 32836, August 10, 1990). Effective December 31, 1978, section 102 of Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1978, (43 FR 47713, October 17, 1978) transferred the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to issue exemptions of the type requested to the Secretary of Labor. Accordingly, this proposed exemption is being issued solely by the Department.

The application pertaining to the proposed exemption contains representations with regard to the proposed exemption which are summarized below. Interested persons are referred to the application on file with the Department for a complete statement of the facts and representations. The application pertaining to the proposed exemption and the comments received will be available for public inspection in the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-1513, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Angelena C. Le Blanc, Office of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, telephone (202) 693-8540. (This is not a toll-free number.)

Summary of Facts and Representations

1. The Applicants for the proposed exemption are BS, BSAM, and BSC. BSAM is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. BSC is registered with the SEC as both a broker-dealer and an investment advisor. BSAM and BSC are affiliates of BS.

2. It is represented that the Applicants and their various affiliates are regulated by federal government agencies, such as the SEC, as well as by state government agencies, and industry self-regulatory organizations (e.g., the New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Securities Dealers).

3. The Applicants request an exemption permitting the purchase of certain Securities by an asset management affiliate of BS, acting on behalf of Client Plans, subject to the Act or Code, and acting on behalf of Client Plans and In-House Plans which are invested in certain Pooled Funds for which an asset management affiliate of BS acts as a fiduciary, from any person other than such asset management affiliate of BS or any affiliate thereof, during the existence of an underwriting or selling syndicate with respect to such Securities, where an Affiliated Broker-Dealer is a manager or member of such syndicate. Further, the Affiliated Broker-Dealer will receive no selling concessions in connection with the securities sold to such plans.

4. The Applicants represent that in accordance with Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 75-1, 40 FR 50845 (October 31, 1975) (PTCE 75-1), an asset management affiliate of BS may purchase underwritten securities for plans, where an Affiliated Broker-Dealer is a member of an underwriting or selling syndicate. In this regard, Part III of PTCE 75-1 provides limited relief from the prohibited transaction provisions of the Act for plan fiduciaries that purchase securities from an underwriting or selling syndicate of which the fiduciary or an affiliate is a member. However, such relief is not available if the Affiliated Broker-Dealer manages the underwriting or selling syndicate.

5. Further, PTE 75-1 does not provide relief for the purchase of unregistered securities. This includes those securities purchased by an underwriter for resale to a “qualified institutional buyer” (QIB) pursuant to the SEC's Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933 (the 1933 Act). It is represented that Rule 144A is commonly utilized in connection with sales of securities issued by foreign corporations to U.S. investors that are QIBs. Notwithstanding the unregistered nature of such shares, it is represented that syndicates selling securities under Rule 144A (Rule 144A Securities) are the functional equivalent of those selling registered securities.

6. The Applicants represent that the Affiliated Broker-Dealer regularly serves as a manager of underwriting or selling Start Printed Page 67906syndicates for registered securities, and as a manager or a member of underwriting or selling syndicates for Rule 144A Securities. Accordingly, the asset management affiliate of BS is currently unable to purchase on behalf of Client Plans Securities sold in a Rule 144A Offering, resulting in such Client Plans being unable to participate in significant investment opportunities.

7. It is represented that since 1975, there has been a significant consolidation in the financial services industry in the United States. As a result, there are more situations in which a plan fiduciary may be affiliated with the manager of an underwriting syndicate. Further, many plans have expanded investment portfolios in recent years to include securities issued by foreign corporations. As a result, the exemption provided in PTCE 75-1, Part III, is often unavailable for purchases of domestic and foreign securities that may otherwise constitute appropriate plan investments.

8. The Applicants represent that the asset management affiliate of BS makes its investment decisions on behalf of, or renders investment advice to, Client Plans pursuant to the governing document of the particular Client Plan or Pooled Fund and the investment guidelines and objectives set forth in the management or advisory agreement. Because the Client Plans are covered by Title I of the Act, such investment decisions are subject to the fiduciary responsibility provisions of the Act.

9. The Applicants state, therefore, that the decision to invest in a particular offering is made on the basis of price, value, and a Client Plan's investment criteria, not on whether the securities are currently being sold through an underwriting or selling syndicate. The Applicants further state that, because the compensation paid to the asset management affiliate of BS for its services is generally based upon assets under management, the asset management affiliate of BS has little incentive to purchase securities in an offering in which the Affiliated Broker-Dealer is an underwriter unless such a purchase is in the interests of Client Plans. If the assets under management do not perform well, the asset management affiliate of BS will receive less compensation and could lose clients, costs which far outweigh any gains from the purchase of underwritten securities. The Applicants point out that under the terms of the proposed exemption, the Affiliated Broker-Dealer may receive no compensation or other consideration, direct or indirect, in connection with any transaction that would be permitted under the proposed exemption.

10. The Applicants state that the asset management affiliate of BS generally purchases securities in large blocks because the same investments will be made across several accounts. If there is a new offering of an equity or fixed income security that the asset management affiliate of BS wishes to purchase, it may be able to purchase the security through the offering syndicate at a lower price than it would pay in the open market, without transaction costs and with reduced market impact if it is buying a relatively large quantity. This is because a large purchase in the open market can cause an increase in the market price and, consequently, in the cost of the securities. Purchasing from an offering syndicate can thus reduce the costs to the Client Plans.

11. The Applicants point out that absent this proposed exemption, if the Affiliated Broker-Dealer is a manager of a syndicate that is underwriting a securities offering, the asset management affiliate will be foreclosed from purchasing any securities on behalf of its Client Plans from that underwriting syndicate. In this regard, the asset management affiliate would have to purchase the same securities in the secondary market. In such a circumstance, the Client Plans may incur greater costs both because the market price is often higher than the offering price, and because of transaction and market impact costs. In turn, this may cause the asset management affiliate to forego other investment opportunities because the purchase price of the underwritten security in the secondary market exceeds the price that the asset management affiliate would have paid to the selling syndicate.

12. The Applicants represent that the Affiliated Broker-Dealer currently manages and participates in firm commitment underwriting syndicates for registered offerings of both equity and debt securities. While equity and debt underwritings may operate differently with regard to the actual sales process, the basic structures are the same. In a firm commitment underwriting, the underwriting syndicate acquires the securities from the issuer and then sells the securities to investors.

13. The Applicants represent that while, as a legal matter, a selling syndicate assumes the risk that the underwritten securities might not be fully sold, as a practical matter, this risk is reduced, in marketed deals, through “building a book” (i.e., taking indications of interest from potential purchasers) prior to pricing the securities. Accordingly, there is no incentive for the underwriters to use their discretionary accounts (or the discretionary accounts of their affiliates) to buy up the securities as a way to avoid underwriting liabilities.

14. It is represented that each selling syndicate has a lead manager, who is the principal contact between the syndicate and the issuer and who is responsible for organizing and coordinating the syndicate. The syndicate may also have co-managers, who generally assist the lead manager in working with the issuer to prepare the registration statement to be filed with the SEC and in distributing the underwritten securities. While equity syndicates typically include additional members that are not managers, more recently, membership in many debt syndicates has been limited to lead and co-managers.

15. It is represented that if more than one underwriter is involved in a selling syndicate, the lead manager, who has been selected by the issuer of the underwritten securities, contacts other underwriters, and the underwriters enter into an “Agreement Among Underwriters.” Most lead managers have a standing form of agreement. This document is then supplemented for the particular deal by sending an “invitation telex” or “terms telex” that sets forth particular terms to the other underwriters.

16. The arrangement between the syndicate and the issuer of the underwritten securities is embodied in an underwriting agreement, which is signed on behalf of the underwriters by one or more of the managers. In a firm commitment underwriting, the underwriting agreement provides, subject to certain closing conditions, that the underwriters are obligated to purchase the underwritten securities from the issuer in accordance with their respective commitments. This obligation is met by using the proceeds received from the buyers of the securities in the offering, although there is a risk that the underwriters will have to pay for a portion of the securities in the event that not all of the securities are sold.

17. The Applicants represent that, generally, the risk that the securities will not be sold is small because the underwriting agreement is not executed until after the underwriters have obtained sufficient indications of interest to purchase the securities from a sufficient number of investors to assure that all the securities being offered will be acquired by investors. Once the underwriting agreement is Start Printed Page 67907executed, the underwriters immediately begin contacting the investors to confirm the sales, at first by oral communication and then by written confirmation. Sales are finalized within hours and sometimes minutes. In registered transactions, the underwriters are particularly anxious to complete the sales as soon as possible because until they “break syndicate,” they cannot enter the market. In many cases, the underwriters will act as market-makers for the security. A market-maker holds itself out as willing to buy or sell the security for its own account on a regular basis.

18. The Applicants represent that the process of “building a book” or soliciting indications of interest occurs as follows: In a registered equity offering, after a registration statement is filed with the SEC and, while it is under review by the SEC staff, representatives of the issuer of the securities and the selling syndicate managers conduct meetings with potential investors, who learn about the company and the underwritten securities. Potential investors also receive a preliminary prospectus. The underwriters cannot make any firm sales until the registration statement is declared effective by the SEC. Prior to the effective date, while the investors cannot become legally obligated to make a purchase, they indicate whether they have an interest in buying, and the managers compile a “book” of investors who are willing to “circle” a particular portion of the issue. These indications of interest are sometimes referred to as a “soft circle” because investors cannot be legally bound to buy the securities until the registration statement is effective. However, the Applicants represent that investors generally follow through on their indications of interest, and would be expected to do so, barring any sudden adverse developments (in which case it is likely that the offering would be withdrawn or the price range modified and the process restarted), because, if the investors that gave an indication of interest do not follow through, the underwriters may be reluctant to include them in future offerings.

19. Assuming that the marketing efforts have produced sufficient indications of interest, the Applicants represent that the issuer of the securities and the selling syndicate managers together will set the price of the securities and ask the SEC to declare the registration effective. After the registration statement becomes effective and the underwriting agreement is executed, the underwriters contact those investors that have indicated an interest in purchasing securities in the offering to execute the sales. The Applicants represent that offerings are often oversubscribed, and many have an over-allotment option that the underwriters can exercise to acquire additional shares from the issuer. Where an offering is oversubscribed, the underwriters decide how to allocate the securities among the potential purchasers. However, if an issue is a “hot issue,” (i.e., it is selling in the market at a premium above its offering price) the underwriters may not hold this hot issue in their own accounts, nor sell it to their employees, officers and directors. Subject to certain exceptions, a hot issue may also not be sold to the personal accounts of those responsible for investing for others, such as officers of banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, and investment advisers.

20. The Applicants represent that debt offerings may be “negotiated” offerings, “competitive bid” offerings, or “bought deals.” “Negotiated” offerings, which often involve non-investment grade securities, are conducted in the same manner as an equity offering with regard to when the underwriting agreement is executed and how the securities are offered. “Competitive bid” offerings, in which the issuer determines the price for the securities through competitive bidding rather than negotiating the price with the underwriting syndicate, are performed under “shelf” registration statements pursuant to the SEC's Rule 415 under the 1933 Act (17 CFR 230.415).[2]

21. In a competitive bid offering, prospective lead underwriters will bid against one another to purchase debt securities, based upon their determinations of the degree of investor interest in the securities. Depending on the level of investor interest and the size of the offering, a bidding lead underwriter may bring in co-managers to assist in the sales process. Most of the securities are frequently sold within hours, or sometimes even less than an hour, after the securities are made available for purchase.

22. It is represented that because of market forces and the requirements of Rule 415, the competitive bid process is generally available only to issuers of investment-grade securities who have been subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the 1934 Act) for at least one (1) year.

23. Occasionally, in highly-rated debt issues, underwriters “buy” the entire deal off of a “shelf registration” before obtaining indications of interest. These “bought” deals involve issuers whose securities enjoy a deep and liquid secondary market, such that an underwriter has confidence without pre-marketing that it can identify purchasers for the bonds.

24. The Applicants represent that there are internal policies in place that restrict contact and the flow of information between investment management personnel and non-investment management personnel in the same or affiliated financial service firms. These policies are designed to protect against “insider trading,” i.e., trading on information not available to the general public that may affect the market price of the securities. Diversified financial services firms must be concerned about insider trading problems because one part of the firm—e.g., the mergers and acquisitions group—could come into possession of non-public information regarding an upcoming transaction involving a particular issuer, while another part of the firm—e.g., the investment management group—could be trading in the securities of that issuer for its clients.

25. The Applicants represent that their business separation policies and procedures are also structured to restrict the flow of any information to or from the asset management affiliate of BS that could limit its flexibility in managing client assets, and of information obtained or developed by the asset management affiliate of BS that could be used by other parts of the organization, to the detriment of the clients of the asset management affiliate of BS.

26. The Applicants represent that major clients of the Affiliated Broker-Dealer include investment management firms that are competitors of the asset management affiliate of BS. Similarly, the asset management affiliate of BS deals on a regular basis with broker-dealers that compete with the Affiliated Broker-Dealer. If special consideration were shown to an affiliate, such conduct would likely have an adverse effect on the relationships of the Affiliated Broker-Dealer and the asset management affiliate of BS with firms that compete with such affiliate. Therefore, a goal of the Applicants' business separation policies is to avoid any possible perception of improper flows of information between the Affiliated Broker-Dealer and the asset management affiliate of BS, in order to prevent any adverse impact on client and business relationships. Start Printed Page 67908

27. The Applicants represent that the underwriters are compensated through the “spread,” or difference, between the price at which the underwriters purchase the securities from the issuer and the price at which the securities are sold to the public. The spread is divided into three components.

28. The first component includes the management fee, which generally represents an agreed upon percentage of the overall spread and is allocated among the lead manager and co-managers. Where there is more than one managing underwriter, the way the management fee will be allocated among the managers is generally agreed upon between the managers and the issuer prior to soliciting indications of interest. Thus, the allocation of the management fee is not reflective of the amount of securities that a particular manager sells in an offering.

29. The second component is the underwriting fee, which represents compensation to the underwriters (including the non-managers, if any) for the risks they assume in connection with the offering and for the use of their capital. This component of the spread is also used to cover the expenses of the underwriting that are not otherwise reimbursed by the issuer of the securities.

30. The first and second components of the “spread” are received without regard to how the underwritten securities are allocated for sales purposes or to whom the securities are sold. The third component of the spread is the selling concession, which generally constitutes 60% or more of the spread. The selling concession compensates the underwriters for their actual selling efforts. The allocation of selling concessions among the underwriters generally follows the allocation of the securities for sales purposes. However, a buyer of the underwritten securities may designate other broker-dealers (who may be other underwriters, as well as broker-dealers outside the syndicate) to receive the selling concessions arising from the securities they purchase.

31. Securities are allocated for sales purposes into two categories. The first and larger category is the “institutional pot,” which is the pot of securities from which sales are made to institutional investors. Selling concessions for securities sold from the institutional pot are generally designated by the purchaser to go to particular underwriters or other broker-dealers. If securities are sold from the institutional pot, the selling syndicate managers sometimes receive a portion of the selling concessions, referred to as a “fixed designation” or an “auto pot split” attributable to securities sold in this category, without regard to who sold the securities or to whom they were sold. For securities covered by this proposed exemption, however, the Affiliated Broker-Dealer may not receive, either directly or indirectly, any compensation or consideration that is attributable to the fixed designation generated by purchases of securities by the asset management affiliate of BS on behalf of its Client Plans.

32. The second category of allocated securities is “retail,” which are the securities retained by the underwriters for sale to their retail customers. The underwriters receive the selling concessions from their respective retail retention allocations. Securities may be shifted between the two categories based upon whether either category is oversold or undersold during the course of the offering.

33. The Applicants represent that the inability of the Affiliated Broker-Dealer to receive any selling concessions, or any compensation attributable to the fixed designations generated by purchases of securities by the Client Plans of the asset management affiliate of BS, removes the primary economic incentive for the asset management affiliate of BS to make purchases that are not in the interests of its Client Plans from offerings for which the Affiliated Broker-Dealer is an underwriter. The reason is that the Affiliated Broker-Dealer will not receive any additional fees as a result of such purchases by the asset management affiliate of BS.

34. The Applicants represent that a number of the offerings of Rule 144A Securities in which the Affiliated Broker-Dealer participates represent good investment opportunities for the Client Plans of the asset management affiliate of BS. Particularly with respect to foreign securities, a Rule 144A offering may provide the least expensive and most accessible means for obtaining these securities. However, as discussed above PTE 75-1, Part III, does not cover Rule 144A Securities. Therefore, absent an exemption, the asset management affiliate of BS is foreclosed from purchasing such securities for its Client Plans in offerings in which the Affiliated Broker-Dealer participates.

35. The Applicants state that Rule 144A acts as a “safe harbor” exemption from the registration provisions of the Securities Act for sales of certain types of securities to QIBs. QIBs include several types of institutional entities, such as employee benefit plans and commingled trust funds holding assets of such plans, which own and invest on a discretionary basis at least $100 million in securities of unaffiliated issuers.

36. Any securities may be sold pursuant to Rule 144A except for those of the same class or similar to a class that is publicly traded in the United States, or certain types of investment company securities. This limitation is designed to prevent side-by-side public and private markets developing for the same class of securities and is the reason that Rule 144A transactions are generally limited to debt securities.

37. Buyers of Rule 144A Securities must be able to obtain, upon request, basic information concerning the business of the issuer and the issuer's financial statements, much of the same information as would be furnished if the offering were registered. This condition does not apply, however, to an issuer filing reports with the SEC under the 1934 Act, for which reports are publicly available. The condition also does not apply to a “foreign private issuer” for whom reports are furnished to the SEC under Rule 12g3-2(b) of the 1934 Act (17 CFR 240.12g3-2(b)), or to issuers who are foreign governments or political subdivisions thereof and are eligible to use Schedule B under the 1933 Act (which describes the information and documents required to be contained in a registration statement filed by such issuers).

38. Sales under Rule 144A, like sales in a registered offering, remain subject to the protections of the anti-fraud rules of federal and state securities laws. These rules include Section 10(b) of the 1934 Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder (17 CFR 240.10b-5) and Section 17(a) of the 1933 Act (15 U.S.C. 77a). Through these and other provisions, the SEC may use its full range of enforcement powers to exercise its regulatory authority over the market for Rule 144A Securities, in the event that it detects improper practices.

39. The Applicants represent that this potential liability for fraud provides a considerable incentive to the issuer of the securities and the members of the selling syndicate to insure that the information contained in a Rule 144A offering memorandum is complete and accurate in all material respects. Among other things, the lead manager typically obtains an opinion from a law firm, commonly referred to as a “l0b-5” opinion, stating that the law firm has no reason to believe that the offering memorandum contains any untrue statement of material fact or omits to state a material fact necessary in order to make sure the statements made, in light of the circumstances under which they were made, are not misleading.

40. The Applicants represent that Rule 144A offerings generally are Start Printed Page 67909structured in the same manner as underwritten registered offerings. The major difference is that a Rule 144A offering uses an offering memorandum rather than a prospectus that is filed with the SEC. The marketing process is the same in most respects, except that the selling efforts are limited to contacting QIBs and there are no general solicitations for buyers (e.g., no general advertising). In addition, the role of the Affiliated Broker-Dealer in these offerings is typically that of a lead or co-manager. Generally, there are no non-manager members in a Rule 144A selling syndicate. However, the Applicants request that the proposed exemption extend to authorization for situations where the Affiliated Broker-Dealer acts only as a syndicate member, not as a manager.

41. The proposed exemption is administratively feasible. In this regard, compliance with the terms and conditions of the proposed exemption will be verifiable and subject to audit.

42. The proposed exemption is in the interest of participants and beneficiaries of Client Plans that engage in the covered transactions. In this regard, it is represented that the proposed exemption will increase investment opportunities and will reduce administrative costs for Client Plans.

43. The proposed exemption is protective of the rights of the participants and beneficiaries of affected Client Plans. In this regard, the notification and other requirements in the proposed exemption are similar to conditions set forth in other exemptions published by the Department in similar circumstances.

44. In summary, it is represented that the proposed transactions meet the statutory criteria for an exemption under section 408(a) of the Act and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code because: (a) The Client Plans will gain access to desirable investment opportunities; (b) in each offering, the asset management affiliate of BS will purchase the securities for its Client Plans from an underwriter or broker-dealer other than the Affiliated Broker-Dealer; (c) conditions similar to those of PTE 75-1, Part III, will restrict the types of securities that may be purchased, the types of underwriting or selling syndicates and issuers involved, and the price and timing of the purchases; (d) the amount of securities that the asset management affiliate of BS may purchase on behalf of Client Plans will be subject to percentage limitations; (e) the Affiliated Broker-Dealer will not be permitted to receive, either directly, indirectly or through designation, any selling concession with respect to the securities sold to the asset management affiliate of BS for the account of a Client Plan; (f) prior to any purchase of securities, the asset management affiliate of BS will make the required disclosures to an independent fiduciary (Independent Fiduciary) of each Client Plan and obtain written authorization to engage in the covered transactions; (g) the asset management affiliate of BS will provide regular reporting to an Independent Fiduciary of each Client Plan with respect to all securities purchased pursuant to the proposed exemption; (h) each Client Plan will be subject to net asset requirements, with certain exceptions for Pooled Funds; and (i) the asset management affiliate of BS must have total assets under management in excess of $5 billion and shareholders' or partners' equity in excess of $1 million, in addition to qualifying as a QPAM, pursuant to Part V(a) of PTE 84-14.

Proposed Exemption

Based on the facts and representations set forth in the application, the Department of Labor (the Department) is considering granting an exemption under the authority of section 408(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (the Act) and section 4975(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the Code) and in accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR Part 2570, Subpart B (55 FR 32836, 32847, August 10, 1990) as follows:

Section I—Transactions

If the proposed exemption is granted, the restrictions of section 406 of the Act and the sanctions resulting from the application of section 4975 of the Code, by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(A) through (F) of the Code, shall not apply to the purchase of certain securities (the Securities), as defined, below in Section III(h), by an asset management affiliate of BS, as “affiliate” is defined, below, in Section III(c), from any person other than such asset management affiliate of BS or any affiliate thereof, during the existence of an underwriting or selling syndicate with respect to such Securities, where a broker-dealer affiliated with BS (the Affiliated Broker-Dealer), as defined, below, in Section III(b), is a manager or member of such syndicate and the asset management affiliate of BS purchases such Securities, as a fiduciary:

(a) on behalf of an employee benefit plan or employee benefit plans (Client Plan(s)), as defined, below, in Section III(e); or

(b) on behalf of Client Plans, and/or In-House Plans, as defined, below, in Section III(q), which are invested in a pooled fund or in pooled funds (Pooled Fund(s)), as defined, below, in Section III(f); provided that the conditions as set forth, below, in Section II, are satisfied (An affiliated underwriter transaction (AUT)).[3]

Section II—Conditions

The proposed exemption is conditioned upon adherence to the material facts and representations described herein and upon satisfaction of the following requirements:

(a)(1) The Securities to be purchased are either—

(i) Part of an issue registered under the Securities Act of 1933 (the 1933 Act) (15 U.S.C. 77a et. seq.). If the Securities to be purchased are part of an issue that is exempt from such registration requirement, such Securities:

(A) Are issued or guaranteed by the United States or by any person controlled or supervised by and acting as an instrumentality of the United States pursuant to authority granted by the Congress of the United States,

(B) Are issued by a bank,

(C) Are exempt from such registration requirement pursuant to a federal statute other than the 1933 Act, or

(D) Are the subject of a distribution and are of a class which is required to be registered under section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the 1934 Act) (15 U.S.C. 781), and are issued by an issuer that has been subject to the reporting requirements of section 13 of the 1934 Act (15 U.S.C. 78m) for a period of at least ninety (90) days immediately preceding the sale of such Securities and that has filed all reports required to be filed thereunder with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during the preceding twelve (12) months; or

(ii) Part of an issue that is an Eligible Rule 144A Offering, as defined in SEC Rule 10f-3 (17 CFR 270.10f-3(a)(4)). Where the Eligible Rule 144A Offering of the Securities is of equity securities, the offering syndicate shall obtain a legal opinion regarding the adequacy of the disclosure in the offering memorandum;

(2) The Securities to be purchased are purchased prior to the end of the first day on which any sales are made, pursuant to that offering, at a price that is not more than the price paid by each other purchaser of the Securities in that offering or in any concurrent offering of the Securities, except that—

(i) If such Securities are offered for subscription upon exercise of rights, Start Printed Page 67910they may be purchased on or before the fourth day preceding the day on which the rights offering terminates; or

(ii) If such Securities are debt securities, they may be purchased at a price that is not more than the price paid by each other purchaser of the Securities in that offering or in any concurrent offering of the Securities and may be purchased on a day subsequent to the end of the first day on which any sales are made, pursuant to that offering, provided that the interest rates, as of the date of such purchase, on comparable debt securities offered to the public subsequent to the end of the first day on which any sales are made and prior to the purchase date are less than the interest rate of the debt Securities being purchased; and

(3) The Securities to be purchased are offered pursuant to an underwriting or selling agreement under which the members of the syndicate are committed to purchase all of the Securities being offered, except if—

(i) Such Securities are purchased by others pursuant to a rights offering; or

(ii) Such Securities are offered pursuant to an over-allotment option.

(b) The issuer of the Securities to be purchased has been in continuous operation for not less than three years, including the operation of any predecessors, unless—

(1) Such Securities are non-convertible debt securities rated in one of the four highest rating categories by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization, i.e., Standard & Poor's Rating Services, Moody's Investors Service, Inc., Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co., or Fitch IBCA, Inc., or their successors (collectively, the Rating Organizations); or

(2) Such Securities are issued or fully guaranteed by a person described, above, in Section II(a)(1)(i)(A); or

(3) Such Securities are fully guaranteed by a person described, above, in Section II(a)(1)(i)(B), (C), or (D), who has issued the Securities and who has been in continuous operation for not less than three years, including the operation of any predecessors.

(c) The aggregate amount of Securities of an issue purchased, pursuant to this exemption, by the asset management affiliate of BS with: (i) The assets of all Client Plans; and (ii) the assets, calculated on a pro-rata basis, of all Client Plans and In-House Plans investing in Pooled Funds managed by the asset management affiliate of BS; and (iii) the assets of plans to which the asset management affiliate of BS renders investment advice within the meaning of 29 CFR 2510.3-21(c) does not exceed:

(1) 10 percent (10%) of the total amount of the Securities being offered in an issue, if such Securities are equity securities;

(2) 35 percent (35%) of the total amount of the Securities being offered in an issue, if such Securities are debt securities rated in one of the four highest rating categories by at least one of the Rating Organizations; provided that none of the Rating Organizations rates such Securities in a category lower than the fourth highest rating category; or

(3) 25 percent (25%) of the total amount of the Securities being offered in an issue, if such Securities are debt securities rated in the fifth or sixth highest rating categories by at least one of the Rating Organizations; provided that none of the Rating Organizations rates such Securities in a category lower than the sixth highest rating category; and

(4) The assets of any single Client Plan (and the assets of any Client Plans and any In-House Plans investing in Pooled Funds) may not be used to purchase any Securities being offered, if such Securities are debt securities rated lower than the sixth highest rating category by any of the Rating Organizations;

(5) Notwithstanding the percentage of Securities of an issue permitted to be acquired, as set forth in Section II(c)(1), (2), and (3), above, of this exemption, the amount of Securities in any issue (whether equity or debt securities) purchased, pursuant to this exemption, by the asset management affiliate of BS on behalf of any single Client Plan, either individually or through investment, calculated on a pro-rata basis, in a Pooled Fund may not exceed three percent (3%) of the total amount of such Securities being offered in such issue, and;

(6) If purchased in an Eligible Rule 144A Offering, the total amount of the Securities being offered for purposes of determining the percentages, described above, in Section II(c)(1)-(3) and (5), is the total of:

(i) The principal amount of the offering of such class of Securities sold by underwriters or members of the selling syndicate to “qualified institutional buyers” (QIBs), as defined in SEC Rule 144A (17 CFR 230.144A(a)(1)); plus

(ii) The principal amount of the offering of such class of Securities in any concurrent public offering.

(d) The aggregate amount to be paid by any single Client Plan in purchasing any Securities which are the subject of this exemption, including any amounts paid by any Client Plan or In-House Plan in purchasing such Securities through a Pooled Fund, calculated on a pro-rata basis, does not exceed three percent (3%) of the fair market value of the net assets of such Client Plan or In-House Plan, as of the last day of the most recent fiscal quarter of such Client Plan or In-House Plan prior to such transaction.

(e) The covered transactions are not part of an agreement, arrangement, or understanding designed to benefit the asset management affiliate of BS or an affiliate.

(f) The Affiliated Broker-Dealer does not receive, either directly, indirectly, or through designation, any selling concession, or other compensation or consideration that is based upon the amount of Securities purchased by any single Client Plan, or that is based on the amount of Securities purchased by Client Plans or In-House Plans through Pooled Funds, pursuant to this exemption. In this regard, the Affiliated Broker-Dealer may not receive, either directly or indirectly, any compensation or consideration that is attributable to the fixed designations generated by purchases of the Securities by the asset management affiliate of BS on behalf of any single Client Plan or any Client Plan or In-House Plan in Pooled Funds.

(g)(1) The amount the Affiliated Broker-Dealer receives in management, underwriting, or other compensation or consideration is not increased through an agreement, arrangement, or understanding for the purpose of compensating the Affiliated Broker-Dealer for foregoing any selling concessions for those Securities sold pursuant to this exemption. Except as described above, nothing in this Section II(g)(1) shall be construed as precluding the Affiliated Broker-Dealer from receiving management fees for serving as manager of the underwriting or selling syndicate, underwriting fees for assuming the responsibilities of an underwriter in the underwriting or selling syndicate, or other compensation or consideration that is not based upon the amount of Securities purchased by the asset management affiliate of BS on behalf of any single Client Plan, or on behalf of any Client Plan or In-House Plan participating in Pooled Funds, pursuant to this exemption; and

(2) The Affiliated Broker-Dealer shall provide to the asset management affiliate of BS a written certification, signed by an officer of the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, stating the amount that the Affiliated Broker-Dealer received in compensation or consideration during the past quarter, in connection with any offerings covered by this exemption, was not adjusted in a manner Start Printed Page 67911inconsistent with Section II(e), (f), or (g) of this exemption.

(h) The covered transactions are performed under a written authorization executed in advance by an independent fiduciary of each single Client Plan (the Independent Fiduciary), as defined, below, in Section III(g).

(i) Prior to the execution by an Independent Fiduciary of a single Client Plan of the written authorization described, above, in Section II(h), the following information and materials (which may be provided electronically) must be provided by the asset management affiliate of BS to such Independent Fiduciary:

(1) A copy of the Notice of Proposed Exemption (the Notice) and a copy of the final exemption as published in the Federal Register; and

(2) Any other reasonably available information regarding the covered transactions that such Independent Fiduciary requests the asset management affiliate of BS to provide.

(j) Subsequent to the initial authorization by an Independent Fiduciary of a single Client Plan permitting the asset management affiliate of BS to engage in the covered transactions on behalf of such single Client Plan, the asset management affiliate of BS will continue to be subject to the requirement to provide within a reasonable period of time any reasonably available information regarding the covered transactions that the Independent Fiduciary requests the asset management affiliate of BS to provide.

(k)(1) In the case of an existing employee benefit plan investor (or existing In-House Plan investor, as the case may be) in a Pooled Fund, such Pooled Fund may not engage in any covered transactions pursuant to this exemption, unless the asset management affiliate of BS provides the written information, as described, below, and within the time period described, below, in this Section II(k)(2), to the Independent Fiduciary of each such plan participating in such Pooled Fund (and to the fiduciary of each such In-House Plan participating in such Pooled Fund).

(2) The following information and materials (which may be provided electronically) shall be provided by the asset management affiliate of BS not less than 45 days prior to such asset management affiliate of BS engaging in the covered transactions on behalf of a Pooled Fund, pursuant to this exemption:

(i) A notice of the intent of such Pooled Fund to purchase Securities pursuant to this exemption, a copy of this Notice, and a copy of the final exemption, as published in the Federal Register;

(ii) Any other reasonably available information regarding the covered transactions that the Independent Fiduciary of a plan (or fiduciary of an In-House Plan) participating in a Pooled Fund requests the asset management affiliate of BS to provide; and

(iii) A termination form expressly providing an election for the Independent Fiduciary of a plan (or fiduciary of an In-House Plan) participating in a Pooled Fund to terminate such plan's (or In-House Plan's) investment in such Pooled Fund without penalty to such plan (or In-House Plan). Such form shall include instructions specifying how to use the form. Specifically, the instructions will explain that such plan (or such In-House Plan) has an opportunity to withdraw its assets from a Pooled Fund for a period of no more than 30 days after such plan's (or such In-House Plan's) receipt of the initial notice of intent, described, above, in Section II(k)(2)(i), and that the failure of the Independent Fiduciary of such plan (or fiduciary of such In-House Plan) to return the termination form to the asset management affiliate of BS in the case of a plan (or In-House Plan) participating in a Pooled Fund by the specified date shall be deemed to be an approval by such plan (or such In-House Plan) of its participation in the covered transactions as an investor in such Pooled Fund.

Further, the instructions will identify BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, and the Affiliated Broker-Dealer and will provide the address of the asset management affiliate of BS. The instructions will state that this exemption may be unavailable, unless the fiduciary of each plan participating in the covered transactions as an investor in a Pooled Fund is, in fact, independent of BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, and the Affiliated Broker-Dealer. The instructions will also state that the fiduciary of each such plan must advise the asset management affiliate of BS, in writing, if it is not an “Independent Fiduciary,” as that term is defined, below, in Section III(g).

For purposes of this Section II(k), the requirement that the fiduciary responsible for the decision to authorize the transactions described, above, in Section I of this exemption for each plan be independent of the asset management affiliate of BS shall not apply in the case of an In-House Plan.

(l)(1) In the case of each plan (and in the case of each In-House Plan) whose assets are proposed to be invested in a Pooled Fund after such Pooled Fund has satisfied the conditions set forth in this exemption to engage in the covered transactions, the investment by such plan (or by such In-House Plan) in the Pooled Fund is subject to the prior written authorization of an Independent Fiduciary representing such plan (or the prior written authorization by the fiduciary of such In-House Plan, as the case may be), following the receipt by such Independent Fiduciary of such plan (or by the fiduciary of such In-House Plan, as the case may be) of the written information described, above, in Section II(k)(2)(i) and (ii).

(2) For purposes of this Section II(l), the requirement that the fiduciary responsible for the decision to authorize the transactions described, above, in Section I of this exemption for each plan proposing to invest a Pooled Fund be independent of BS and its affiliates shall not apply in the case of an In-House Plan, as defined, below, in Section III(l).

(m) Subsequent to the initial authorization by an Independent Fiduciary of a plan (or by a fiduciary of an In-House Plan) to invest in a Pooled Fund that engages in the covered transactions, the asset management affiliate of BS will continue to be subject to the requirement to provide within a reasonable period of time any reasonably available information regarding the covered transactions that the Independent Fiduciary of such plan (or the fiduciary of such In-House Plan, as the case may be) requests the asset management affiliate of BS to provide.

(n) At least once every three months, and not later than 45 days following the period to which such information relates, the asset management affiliate of BS shall furnish:

(1) In the case of each single Client Plan that engages in the covered transactions, the information described, below, in this Section II(n)(3)-(7), to the Independent Fiduciary of each such single Client Plan.

(2) In the case of each Pooled Fund in which a Client Plan (or in which an In-House Plan) invests, the information described, below, in this Section II(n)(3)-(6) and (8), to the Independent Fiduciary of each such Client Plan (and to the fiduciary of each such In-House Plan) invested in such Pooled Fund.

(3) A quarterly report (the Quarterly Report) (which may be provided electronically) which discloses all the Securities purchased pursuant to the exemption during the period to which such report relates on behalf of the Client Plan, In-House Plan, or Pooled Fund to which such report relates, and which discloses the terms of each of the Start Printed Page 67912transactions described in such report, including:

(i) The type of Securities (including the rating of any Securities which are debt securities) involved in each transaction;

(ii) The price at which the Securities were purchased in each transaction;

(iii) The first day on which any sale was made during the offering of the Securities;

(iv) The size of the issue of the Securities involved in each transaction;

(v) The number of Securities purchased by the asset management affiliate of BS for the Client Plan, In-House Plan, or Pooled Fund to which the transaction relates;

(vi) The identity of the underwriter from whom the Securities were purchased for each transaction;

(vii) The underwriting spread in each transaction (i.e., the difference, between the price at which the underwriter purchases the securities from the issuer and the price at which the securities are sold to the public);

(viii) The price at which any of the Securities purchased during the period to which such report relates were sold; and

(ix) The market value at the end of the period to which such report relates of the Securities purchased during such period and not sold;

(4) The Quarterly Report contains:

(i) a representation that the asset management affiliate of BS has received a written certification signed by an officer of the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, as described, above, in Section II(g)(2), affirming that, as to each AUT covered by this exemption during the past quarter, the Affiliated Broker-Dealer acted in compliance with Section II(e), (f), and (g) of this exemption, and

(ii) a representation that copies of such certifications will be provided upon request;

(5) A disclosure in the Quarterly Report that states that any other reasonably available information regarding a covered transaction that an Independent Fiduciary (or fiduciary of an In-House Plan) requests will be provided, including, but not limited to:

(i) The date on which the Securities were purchased on behalf of the Client Plan (or the In-House Plan) to which the disclosure relates (including Securities purchased by Pooled Funds in which such Client Plan (or such In-House Plan) invests;

(ii) The percentage of the offering purchased on behalf of all Client Plans (and the pro-rata percentage purchased on behalf of Client Plans and In-House Plans investing in Pooled Funds); and

(iii) The identity of all members of the underwriting syndicate;

(6) The Quarterly Report discloses any instance during the past quarter where the asset management affiliate of BS was precluded for any period of time from selling Securities purchased under this exemption in that quarter because of its status as an affiliate of an Affiliated Broker-Dealer and the reason for this restriction;

(7) Explicit notification, prominently displayed in each Quarterly Report sent to the Independent Fiduciary of each single Client Plan that engages in the covered transactions that the authorization to engage in such covered transactions may be terminated, without penalty to such single Client Plan, within five (5) days after the date that the Independent Fiduciary of such single Client Plan informs the person identified in such notification that the authorization to engage in the covered transactions is terminated; and

(8) Explicit notification, prominently displayed in each Quarterly Report sent to the Independent Fiduciary of each Client Plan (and to the fiduciary of each In-House Plan) that engages in the covered transactions through a Pooled Fund that the investment in such Pooled Fund may be terminated, without penalty to such Client Plan (or such In-House Plan), within such time as may be necessary to effect the withdrawal in an orderly manner that is equitable to all withdrawing plans and to the non-withdrawing plans, after the date that that the Independent Fiduciary of such Client Plan (or the fiduciary of such In-House Plan, as the case may be) informs the person identified in such notification that the investment in such Pooled Fund is terminated.

(o) For purposes of engaging in covered transactions, each Client Plan (and each In-House Plan) shall have total net assets with a value of at least $50 million (the $50 Million Net Asset Requirement). For purposes of engaging in covered transactions involving an Eligible Rule 144A Offering,[4] each Client Plan (and each In-House Plan) shall have total net assets of at least $100 million in securities of issuers that are not affiliated with such Client Plan (or such In-House Plan, as the case may be) (the $100 Million Net Asset Requirement).

For purposes of a Pooled Fund engaging in covered transactions, each Client Plan (and each In-House Plan) in such Pooled Fund shall have total net assets with a value of at least $50 million. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if each such Client Plan (and each such In-House Plan) in such Pooled Fund does not have total net assets with a value of at least $50 million, the $50 Million Net Asset Requirement will be met, if 50 percent (50%) or more of the units of beneficial interest in such Pooled Fund are held by Client Plans (or by In-House Plans) each of which has total net assets with a value of at least $50 million. For purposes of a Pooled Fund engaging in covered transactions involving an Eligible Rule 144A Offering, each Client Plan (and each In-House Plan) in such Pooled Fund shall have total net assets of at least $100 million in securities of issuers that are not affiliated with such Client Plan (or such In-House Plan, as the case may be). Notwithstanding the foregoing, if each such Client Plan (and each such In-House Plan) in such Pooled Fund does not have total net assets of at least $100 million in securities of issuers that are not affiliated with such Client Plan (or In-House Plan, as the case may be), the $100 Million Net Asset Requirement will be met if 50 percent (50%) or more of the units of beneficial interest in such Pooled Fund are held by Client Plans (or by In-House Plans) each of which have total net assets of at least $100 million in securities of issuers that are not affiliated with such Client Plan (or such In-House Plan, as the case may be), and the Pooled Fund itself qualifies as a QIB, as determined pursuant to SEC Rule 144A (17 CFR 230.144A(a)(F)).

For purposes of the net asset requirements described, above, in this Section II(o), where a group of Client Plans is maintained by a single employer or controlled group of employers, as defined in section 407(d)(7) of the Act, the $50 Million Net Asset Requirement (or in the case of an Eligible Rule 144A Offering, the $100 Million Net Asset Requirement) may be met by aggregating the assets of such Client Plans, if the assets of such Client Plans are pooled for investment purposes in a single master trust.

(p) The asset management affiliate of BS qualifies as a “qualified professional asset manager” (QPAM), as that term is defined under Part V(a) of PTE 84-14. Notwithstanding the fact that the asset Start Printed Page 67913management affiliate of BS satisfies the requirements, as set forth in Part V(a) of PTE 84-14, such asset management affiliate of BS must also have total client assets under its management and control in excess of $5 billion, as of the last day of its most recent fiscal year and shareholders' or partners' equity in excess of $1 million. Furthermore, the requirement that the asset management affiliate of BS must have total client asset under its management and control in excess of $5 billion, as of the last day of it most recent fiscal year and shareholders' or partners' equity in excess of $1 million, as set forth in this Section II(p), applies whether such asset management affiliate of BS, qualifies as a QPAM, pursuant to Part V(a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3) or (a)(4) of PTE 84-14.

(q) No more than 20 percent of the assets of a Pooled Fund at the time of a covered transaction, are comprised of assets of In-House Plans for which BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, or an affiliate exercises investment discretion.

(r) The asset management affiliate of BS, and the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, as applicable, maintain, or cause to be maintained, for a period of six (6) years from the date of any covered transaction such records as are necessary to enable the persons, described, below, in Section II(s), to determine whether the conditions of this exemption have been met, except that—

(1) No party in interest with respect to a plan which engages in the covered transactions, other than BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, and the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, as applicable, shall be subject to a civil penalty under section 502(i) of the Act or the taxes imposed by section 4975(a) and (b) of the Code, if such records are not maintained, or not available for examination, as required, below, by Section II(s); and

(2) A prohibited transaction shall not be considered to have occurred if, due to circumstances beyond the control of the asset management affiliate of BS, or the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, as applicable, such records are lost or destroyed prior to the end of the six-year period.

(s)(1) Except as provided, below, in Section II(s)(2), and notwithstanding any provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b) of section 504 of the Act, the records referred to, above, in Section II(r) are unconditionally available at their customary location for examination during normal business hours by—

(i) Any duly authorized employee or representative of the Department, the Internal Revenue Service, or the SEC; or

(ii) Any fiduciary of any plan that engages in the covered transactions, or any duly authorized employee or representative of such fiduciary; or

(iii) Any employer of participants and beneficiaries and any employee organization whose members are covered by a plan that engages in the covered transactions, or any authorized employee or representative of these entities; or

(iv) Any participant or beneficiary of a plan that engages in the covered transactions, or duly authorized employee or representative of such participant or beneficiary;

(2) None of the persons described, above, in Section II(s)(1)(ii)-(iv) shall be authorized to examine trade secrets of the asset management affiliate of BS, or the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, or commercial or financial information which is privileged or confidential; and

(3) Should the asset management affiliate of BS, or the Affiliated Broker-Dealer refuse to disclose information on the basis that such information is exempt from disclosure, pursuant to Section II(s)(2), above, the asset management affiliate of BS shall, by the close of the thirtieth (30th) day following the request, provide a written notice advising that person of the reasons for the refusal and that the Department may request such information.

Section III—Definitions

(a) The term, “the Applicants,” means BS, BSAM, and BSC.

(b) The term, “Affiliated Broker-Dealer,” means any broker-dealer affiliate, as “affiliate” is defined, below, in Section III(c), of the Applicants, as “Applicants” are defined, above, in Section III(a), that meets the requirements of this exemption. Such Affiliated Broker-Dealer may participate in an underwriting or selling syndicate as a manager or member. The term, “manager,” means any member of an underwriting or selling syndicate who, either alone or together with other members of the syndicate, is authorized to act on behalf of the members of the syndicate in connection with the sale and distribution of the Securities, as defined, below, in Section III(h), being offered or who receives compensation from the members of the syndicate for its services as a manager of the syndicate.

(c) The term “affiliate” of a person includes:

(1) Any person directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries, controlling, controlled by, or under common control with such person;

(2) Any officer, director, partner, employee, or relative, as defined in section 3(15) of the Act, of such person; and

(3) Any corporation or partnership of which such person is an officer, director, partner, or employee.

(d) The term, “control,” means the power to exercise a controlling influence over the management or policies of a person other than an individual.

(e) The term, “Client Plan(s),” means an employee benefit plan(s) that is subject to the Act and/or the Code, and for which plan(s) an asset management affiliate of BS exercises discretionary authority or discretionary control respecting management or disposition of some or all of the assets of such plan(s), but excludes In-House Plans, as defined, below, in Section III(l).

(f) The term, “Pooled Fund(s),” means a common or collective trust fund(s) or a pooled investment fund(s): (i) In which employee benefit plan(s) subject to the Act and/or Code invest, (ii) which is maintained by an asset management affiliate of BS, (as the term, “affiliate” is defined, above, in Section III(c)), and (iii) for which such asset management affiliate of BS exercises discretionary authority or discretionary control respecting the management or disposition of the assets of such fund(s).

(g)(1) The term, “Independent Fiduciary,” means a fiduciary of a plan who is unrelated to, and independent of BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, and the Affiliated Broker-Dealer. For purposes of this exemption, a fiduciary of a plan will be deemed to be unrelated to, and independent of BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, and the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, if such fiduciary represents that neither such fiduciary, nor any individual responsible for the decision to authorize or terminate authorization for the transactions described, above, in Section I of this exemption, is an officer, director, or highly compensated employee (within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(H) of the Code) of BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, or the Affiliated Broker-Dealer, and represents that such fiduciary shall advise the asset management affiliate of BS within a reasonable period of time after any change in such facts occur.

(2) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section III(g), a fiduciary of a plan is not independent:

(i) If such fiduciary directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, or the Affiliated Broker-Dealer; Start Printed Page 67914

(ii) If such fiduciary directly or indirectly receives any compensation or other consideration from BS, the asset management affiliate of BS, or the Affiliated Broker-Dealer for his or her own personal account in connection with any transaction described in this exemption;

(iii) If any officer, director, or highly compensated employee (within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(H) of the Code) of the asset management affiliate of BS responsible for the transactions described, above, in Section I of this exemption, is an officer, director, or highly compensated employee (within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(H) of the Code) of the sponsor of the plan or of the fiduciary responsible for the decision to authorize or terminate authorization for the transactions described, above, in Section I. However, if such individual is a director of the sponsor of the plan or of the responsible fiduciary, and if he or she abstains from participation in: (A) The choice of the plan's investment manager/adviser; and (B) the decision to authorize or terminate authorization for transactions described, above, in Section I, then Section III(g)(2)(iii) shall not apply.

(3) The term, “officer,” means a president, any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division, or function (such as sales, administration, or finance), or any other officer who performs a policy-making function for BS or any affiliate thereof.

(h) The term, “Securities,” shall have the same meaning as defined in section 2(36) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the 1940 Act), as amended (15 U.S.C. 80a-2(36)(1996)). For purposes of this exemption, mortgage-backed or other asset-backed securities rated by one of the Rating Organizations, as defined, below, in Section III(k), will be treated as debt securities.

(i) The term, “Eligible Rule 144A Offering,” shall have the same meaning as defined in SEC Rule 10f-3(a)(4) (17 CFR 270.10f-3(a)(4)) under the 1940 Act).

(j) The term, “qualified institutional buyer,” or the term, “QIB,” shall have the same meaning as defined in SEC Rule 144A (17 CFR 230.144A(a)(1)) under the 1933 Act).

(k) The term, “Rating Organizations,” means Standard & Poor's Rating Services, Moody's Investors Service, Inc., Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co., or Fitch IBCA, Inc., or their successors.

(l) The term, “In-House Plan(s),” means an employee benefit plan(s) that is subject to the Act and/or the Code, and that is sponsored by the Applicants, as defined, above, in Section III(a) for their own employees.

The availability of this exemption is subject to the express condition that the material facts and representations contained in the application for exemption are true and complete and accurately describe all material terms of the transactions. In the case of continuing transactions, if any of the material facts or representations described in the applications change, the exemption will cease to apply as of the date of such change. In the event of any such change, an application for a new exemption must be made to the Department.

General Information

The attention of interested persons is directed to the following:

(1) The fact that a transaction is the subject of an exemption under section 408(a) of the Act does not relieve a fiduciary or other party in interest or disqualified person from certain other provisions of the Act, including any prohibited transaction provisions to which the exemption does not apply and the general fiduciary responsibility provisions of section 404 of the Act, which require, among other things, a fiduciary to discharge his or her duties respecting the plan solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries of the plan and in a prudent fashion in accordance with section 404(a)(1)(B) of the Act;

(2) Before an exemption can be granted under section 408(a) of the Act, the Department must find that the exemption is administratively feasible, in the interest of the plan and of its participants and beneficiaries and protective of the rights of participants and beneficiaries of the plan; and

(3) The proposed exemption, if granted, will be supplemental to, and not in derogation of, any other provisions of the Act, including statutory or administrative exemptions. Furthermore, the fact that a transaction is subject to an administrative or statutory exemption is not dispositive of whether the transaction is in fact a prohibited transaction.

Start Signature

Signed at Washington, DC, this 20th day of November, 2006.

Ivan L. Strasfeld,

Director of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

End Signature End Further Info End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  For purposes of this proposed exemption an In-House Plan may engage in AUT's only through investment in a Pooled Fund.

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2.  Rule 415 permits an issuer to sell debt as well as equity securities under an effective registration statement previously filed with the SEC by filing a post-effective amendment or supplemental prospectus.

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3.  For purposes of this proposed exemption an In-House Plan may engage in AUT's only through investment in a Pooled Fund.

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4.  SEC Rule 10f-3(a)(4), 17 CFR 270.10f-3(a)(4), states that the term “Eligible Rule 144A Offering” means an offering of securities that meets the following conditions:

(i) The securities are offered or sold in transactions exempt from registration under section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 [15 U.S.C. 77d(d)], rule 144A there under [§ 230.144A of this chapter], or rules 501-508 there under [§§ 230.501-230-508 of this chapter];

(ii) The securities are sold to persons that the seller and any person acting on behalf of the seller reasonably believe to include qualified institutional buyers, as defined in § 230.144A(a)(1) of this chapter; and

(iii) The seller and any person acting on behalf of the seller reasonably believe that the securities are eligible for resale to other qualified institutional buyers pursuant to § 230.144A of this chapter.

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[FR Doc. E6-19826 Filed 11-22-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-29-P