WASHINGTON - Bloomberg Financial Markets this week became the first information vendor to begin receiving comprehensive sets of official statements on high-tech tapes from the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's information library.
"We're thrilled with what we are going to be getting," said John Aubert, head of Bloomberg's data division. "This closes the gap nicely" between the official statements the firm already receives as a nationally recognized repository of municipal bond documents and what the MSRB receives under board rules, he said.
Mr. Aubert said the firm has no plans to repackage the official statements for sale to different segments of the market, but added that this could change. "If someone thinks [additional products are] beneficial, our reaction time can be quick," he said.
The Bond Buyer and J.J Kenny Co., which are both information vendors, also plan to buy the compact magnetic tapes soon.
Other purchasers are expected to include: Municipal Bond Investors Assurance Corp., a bond insurer; and Donald Beatty, a market entrepreneur who is planning to buy the tapes from the MSRB, convert the images of official statements onto compact disks, and sell the disks to the market. The disks can be read by personal computers. The system, which Mr. Beatty first proposed in 1990, is called the internal Document Index system, or INDOX
Interactive Data, another information vendor, and a second major insurer, AMBAC Indmenity Corp., also may buy the tapes, according to spokesmen from the two firms.
The magnetic tapes, which are produced overnight for the MSRB by Appalachian Computer Systems of London, Ky., form the first component of the board's Municipal Securities Information Library which collects and disseminates primary market documents. the board hopes in November to Launch the second component, its long-awaited pilot for secondary market disclosure. That component is known as CDI, or Continuing Disclosure Information library.
Robert Genader, senior executive vice president of AMBAC Indemnity Corp., said of the service, "We are seriously evaluating it." He noted that the firm uses the current information in official statements to continuously monitor the deals it insures.
"We will be using them principally for surveillance. When we insure a bond we insure it for 20 to 30 years," he explained. "We think the official statements will be very helpful." He stressed, However, that such documents "only give us part of the information we need as a bond insurer."
"MBIA anticipates subscribing to this system later in the year," said Frank Kemp, vice president of information services for the insurer. "This will [provided] good clean copies to our analysis."
"We are in the thinking stage," said Frederick Carisi, vice president for Interactive Data, which sells descriptive information, including bid estimates, for municipal and other market transactions "It would give us official statements on a more timely basis."
"We are planning on buying the tapes" very soon, said Joyce Smith, vice president of municipal information products for The Bond Buyer, which already has an extensive library of official statements for sale on microfiche. "We're going back to customers who already have purchased [the service], and to potential customers, to see how we should package them in the future. Probably within the next year we'll be developing things that customers have asked for."
A spokesman for J.J. Kenny said the firm plans to begin puchasing the board's tapes but is unclear how soon.
"We are making technical accommodations internally to be able to accept the tapes and read them properly," he said, noting that the firm plans initially to "beef up our library" of official statements and print copies for the firm's research department.
Mr. Beatty of INDOX said, "We plan to subscribe in the next 30 to 60 days." INDOX would transfer the official statements on MSRB's digital tapes onto a so-called CD-ROM, or compact disk-read only memory. The CD-ROM would be mailed monthly to buyers