Publishers of The Bond Buyer yesterday announced the launch of a new electronic municipal bond information service that company officials say contains the most facts and statistics on state, city, and other local government bond issues of any data base.
The new service, called MuniView, provides more than 90 fields of information, such as bond yields, maturities, ratings, extraordinary redemption notices, sinking fund notices, and paying and transfer agents. It is available immediately to Munifacts News Wire subscribers with Munifacts Plus screens and to anyone with a personal computer and a modem.
It is the first data base to provide this level of detail about municipal securities, according to Nancy Martin, president of the Securities Information Services Group, the creator of MuniView. The group is part of Thomson Financial Information, publishers of The Bond Buyer and parent of Munifacts, a news wire for the municipal bond industry.
MuniView contains information on about 1.2 million municipal bond Cusip numbers assigned to some 60,000 bond issues with an estimated maturity value of $760 billion, or 95% of the total principal amount of state, city and other local government bonds currently outstanding. With municipal bonds, a different Cusip number is given to each maturity of a bond issue, and so there are many more uniform security identification numbers than bond issues.
According to Debra G. Heffernan, executive vice president of Securities Information Services, the MuniView data base contains all the information required by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board for valid trade confirmations, and it has aditional data fields, including the redemption and sinking fund schedules and paying agents.
In announcing the new system, Ms. Heffernan said MuniView's "user-friendly design" enables bond traders, investors, and others to search using Cusip numbers, key words, or other information.
Because the Securities Information Services Group also operates a nationally recognized municipal securities information repository, or NRMSIR, data from official statements of new bond issues is collected quickly and the data base updated daily.
In addition, information reported on the Munifacts News Wire and from other sources, such as rating agencies, "enables us to keep the MuniView product up-to-date and accurate," Ms. Heffernan said. MuniView is aimed chiefly at municipal bond dealers and investors, including mutual funds, insurance companies and banks, she said.
Under a special introductory offer, all MuniView users can pay a flat fee of $350 for access and unlimited use of system for a six-month period.
Following the introductory offer, subscribers to Munifacts Plus will be able to gain access to MuniView data at no additional charge for their basic subscription, but they will be charged 20 cents for each inquiry. Other users will be charged a subscription fee of $100 a month, plus 20 cents for each inquiry.
Ms. Hefferman said preliminary testing at various sites around the country found users particularly liked the full call-schedule and paying-agent features of MuniView.
"People also liked the fact that we're creating a competitive environment out there," she said, noting that J.J. Kenny Co. has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in recent years with its Kennybase service.
Kenny last week announced a new system, called the McGraw-Hill Municipal Screen, that will consolidate Kenny's various online services on one screen and reduce fees, according to Kenny officials.
The system, which will offer many of the same features as MuniView, requires a special information processor at each client site and will be phased in over the next six to nine months.
In announcing the new service last week, Kenny said fees for the McGraw-Hill screen will be made public shortly.