Ohio state securities regulators have given Putnam, Lovell, de Guardiola & Thornton Inc. a broker-dealer license two years after the company sold securities in the state without one.
The license was granted on the condition that the San Francisco-based company offer to undo 17 securities transactions which occurred from Aug. 20, 1997, through March 20, 1998, according to a cease-and-desist order from the Ohio Division of Securities that was made public last week. No penalty was imposed.
The division took into account the lack of previous disciplinary actions against Putnam Lovell and its agreement to refrain from selling securities without a license in the future, said Thomas E. Geyer, Ohio's commissioner of securities. Broker-dealer licenses in Ohio come up for renewal yearly, he added.
This was a "highly technical matter that involved no allegation of wrongdoing other than a ministerial failure to register in the state of Ohio," a spokeswoman said.
Putnam Lovell, which is well known in the investment banking community for its work with asset managers, also buys and sells corporate equities in the over-the-counter market. But to conduct such transactions, companies must be registered with the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. and in every state where they do business.
By not registering in Ohio, Putnam Lovell was apparently relying on an exemption some states have for companies that sell securities only to institutions and not to retail investors.
Ohio, however, requires such companies to register for a license, Mr. Geyer said. He did not know how the error was brought to Putnam Lovell's attention, but said the company voluntarily sought to register in April 1998.
The previous transactions came to light as part of the registration process, he said, adding that their value or nature have not been disclosed. The sales were to one client, according to the Central Registration Depository, an on-line registration data base developed by the NASD and the umbrella group for state securities regulators.
Putnam Lovell is now registered as a broker-dealer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the data base.