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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Amend FINRA Rule 5131 (New Issue Allocations and Distributions)

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble April 26, 2011.

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 April 18, 2011, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) 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 substantially by FINRA. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.

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

FINRA is proposing to amend FINRA Rule 5131 (New Issue Allocations and Distributions) to simplify the spinning provision and to delay the implementation date of paragraphs (b) and (d)(4).

The text of the proposed rule change is available on FINRA's Web site at http://www.finra.org, at the principal office of FINRA and at the Commission's Public Reference Room.

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

In its filing with the Commission, FINRA 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 IV below. FINRA 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 Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose

On November 29, 2010, FINRA issued Regulatory Notice 10-60 announcing Start Printed Page 24077Commission approval of SR-NASD-2003-140 [3] and designating the effective date of new Rule 5131 (the “Rule”) as May 27, 2011.[4]

A. Spinning

Paragraph (b) of the Rule (Spinning), implements a recommendation from the IPO Advisory Committee Report [5] to prohibit spinning—i.e., an underwriter's allocation of IPO shares to directors or executives of investment banking clients in exchange for receipt of investment banking business. The primary means by which the Rule prohibits spinning is through a series of prophylactic prohibitions on the allocation of new issues. Specifically, the Rule prohibits allocations of a new issue to any account in which an executive officer or director of a public company or a covered non-public company, or a person materially supported by such executive officer or director, has a beneficial interest: (A) If the company is currently an investment banking services client of the member or the member has received compensation from the company for investment banking services in the past 12 months; (B) if the person responsible for making the allocation decision knows or has reason to know that the member intends to provide, or expects to be retained by the company for, investment banking services within the next 3 months; or (C) on the express or implied condition that such executive officer or director, on behalf of the company, will retain the member for the performance of future investment banking services.

Paragraph (b)(1) requires that members establish, maintain and enforce policies and procedures reasonably designed to ensure that investment banking personnel have no involvement or influence, directly or indirectly, in the new issue allocation decisions of the member. However, because the term “investment banking personnel” is not defined in the Rule, members have raised concern that, if the term is read co-extensively with the definition of “investment banking services,” certain necessary functions traditionally performed by syndicate personnel would be prohibited. In light of this unintended consequence, FINRA is proposing to delete paragraph (b)(1). FINRA believes that benefits of the anti-spinning provisions can be attained without this particular provision inasmuch as firms currently are required to have written policies and procedures with respect to the spinning prohibitions in paragraph (b)(2) pursuant to NASD Rule 3010.

In addition, upon further discussions with member firms regarding the steps necessary to prepare for compliance with the spinning provisions,[6] FINRA proposes to delay the implementation date of paragraph (b), as amended, until September 26, 2011.

B. Market Orders

Paragraph (d)(4) of the Rule (Market Orders) prohibits members from accepting any market order for the purchase of shares of a new issue in the secondary market prior to the commencement of trading of such shares in the secondary market. Members have requested additional time to develop a process for reliably identifying new issues and to modify their order handling systems to prevent the acceptance of market orders in new issue shares in contravention of the Rule. FINRA believes the Rule must carefully balance the investor protection concerns with needs of issuers in capital formation and market participants in price discovery. Accordingly, FINRA proposes to delay the implementation date of paragraph (d)(4) until September 26, 2011.

The effective date of the proposed rule change will be the date of Commission approval. However, FINRA also is proposing to delay the implementation date of paragraphs (b) and (d)(4) until September 26, 2011.

2. Statutory Basis

FINRA believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of Section 15A(b)(6) of the Exchange Act,[7] which requires, among other things, that FINRA rules must be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. FINRA believes the proposed rule change simplifies member obligations with respect to Rule 5131, thereby aiding member compliance efforts and helping to maintain investor confidence in the capital markets.

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

FINRA does not believe that the proposed rule change will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Exchange Act.

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

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action

Within 45 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period (i) as the Commission may designate up to 90 days of such date if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which the self-regulatory organization consents, the Commission will:

(A) By order approve or disapprove the proposed rule change, or

(B) institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved.

The Commission is considering granting accelerated approval of the proposed rule change at the end of a 15-day comment period.

IV. 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 Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090.

All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FINRA-2011-017. This file number should be included on the Start Printed Page 24078subject 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 Commission's 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 website viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of FINRA. 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 File Number SR-FINRA-2011-017 and should be submitted on or before May 16, 2011.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.8

Cathy H. Ahn,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 63010 (September 29, 2010), 75 FR 61541 (October 5, 2010) (Order Approving File No. SR-NASD-2003-140).

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4.  See Regulatory Notice 10-60 (November 2010) (Approval of New Issue Rule).

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6.  For example, members have requested additional time to: (1) Create additional forms, account documents and other measures of obtaining information from clients necessary to assess eligibility for new issue allocations under the new Rule; (2) build systems and surveillance infrastructure to ensure appropriate blocks of allocations; and (3) develop appropriate compliance policies and procedures and training materials on the new policies and procedures.

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[FR Doc. 2011-10447 Filed 4-28-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P