WASHINGTON -- Two years after it absorbed a pounding for holding a quarterly meeting at a deluxe hotel in London, England, the Municipal Securities Board announced this week that it is going to spend more money in London.

But this time it is London, Ky.

That is the home of Appalachian Computer Systems. The firm is about to sign a contract with the board to provide state-of-the-art scanning technology for the central repository that the MSRB hopes to launch just after the first of the year.

The rural company was selected after a four-month search by the board for a firm to collect official statements on paper and take computerized photographs of each page using imaging technology. The company will store the images on magnetic tapes, which can be bought by private information vendors who would repackage the information and sell it to the market. Rating agencies and Wall Street firms also can buy the tapes.

Information vendors are likely to be the first to buy the tapes, said Christopher Taylor, the board's executive director. But the board will not start signing up buyers until MSRB officials have reviewed sample tapes over the next few weeks, he said.

Mr. Taylor said that under the new system, official statements will be air freighted to Kentucky the day they are received and sent to subscribers no longer than three business days later.

"We're still shooting for Jan. 2" to launch the system, Mr. Taylor said.

But a delay is possible since the board is not expected to sign its contract with Applachian Computer Systems until late December, he added.

The board does not plan to use the same imaging technology for its proposed secondary-market disclosure system pilot project now awaiting approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under the Continuing Disclosure Initiative Pilot System, the board plans to accept three-page notices through the mail, by fax machine, or from computers via modem. The software would be provided by the MSRB.

An MSRB aide estimated a total of $1 million in development costs over a two-and-a-half-year period for the board's official statement collection system and the proposed secondary market pilot. The aide added that, on average, it will cost well below the annual $1.2 million of costs the board originally estimated to operate the official statement system.

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