The board of directors of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority announced Friclay they have approved a new underwriting team for the authority's 1992-96 capital program.

The new syndicate is divided into three brackets and includes 19 firms. A number of firms from the old syndicate were dropped and four other firms were added to the syndicate. The newcomers include Morgan Stanley & Co., which was dropped from the team in 1989, when the authority last picked a syndicate.

The team is expected to underwrite any bonds included in the authority's proposed $10 billion, five-year capital program. The capital program, however, has not yet been approved by the state Legislature.

Over a two-and-a-half-year period, the old syndicate handled 11 issues for a total of $3.3. billion, with each deal averaging $301 million, according to a memorandum prepared by the staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Bear, Stearns & Co. and Dillon Read & Co. were renamed senior managers. First Boston Corp. was promoted to co-senior manager from co-manager in the authority's syndicate. All three firms will rotate the books on upcoming deals.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., which was appointed a senior manager in 1989, was dropped to a special co-managers bracket, which has been expanded to six firms from four firms.

The other firms are: Lazard Freres & Co.; Lehman Brothers; Merrill Lynch & Co.; J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.; and Morgan Stanley, which had been senior manager when it failed to make the cut in 1989. Merrill was also dropped from the senior manager tier in 1989, but was moved into a co-manager bracket.

The special co-managers bracket "represents firms who, in addition to the senior managers, consistently received high marks for supporting MTA credits in difficult market environments," the authority said in a statement.

Commenting on his firm's demotion, David C. Clapp, a general partner and head of municipal securities at Goldman Sachs, said. "We were disappointed. We'll continue to work with the authority. "

In May, the MTA sought requests for proposals from firms seeking a slot in the syndicate. The authority said 65 firms asked for the proposals and 40 supplied written responses.

The regular co-manager tier and a special bracket, both of which had been created in 1989, have been combined into a new co-manager group of 10 firms, with a number of firms owned by women and minorities included, as well as regional dealers.

The group includes Artemis Capital Group Inc., a firm owned by women; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp.: First Albany Corp., a regional New York-based dealer; W.R. Lazard, Laidlaw & Mead, a minority-owned firm; Lebenthal & Co., a New York-based regional dealer and retail house; PaineWebber Inc.; Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co., a minority-owned firm; Samuel F. Ramirez & Co., a minority-owned firm; Roosevelt & Cross Inc., a New York-based regional dealer; and Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.

The new firms named to the syndicate, including Morgan Stanley, are Artemis, Donaldson Lufkin, PaineWebber.

The authority said the new co-managers bracket has "strong participation rom women and disadvantaged enterprises," as well as regional retail firms, in addition to major institutional and retail firms.

The board said the authority will conduct periodic reviews of the performance of all co-managers and selling group members, and will revise assignments as warranted by their performance.

Dropped from manager roles were Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., BT Securities Corp., Citicorp Securities, and M.R. Beal & Co., a woman and black owned-firm. All of these firms were appointed to the syndicate in 1989.

Officials at Citicorp Securities Markets Inc. refused to comment.

Philip Korot, executive vice president and managing director of the municipal finance department at Dean Witter Reynolds, said, "I have no comment other than the fact that I'm disappointed."

BT Securities could not be reached for comment.

M.R. Beal did not respond to the authority's request for proposals because its president and founder, Bernard B. Beal, said he was concerned about potential conflict of interest. Mr. Beal was nominated to the authority's board earlier this year by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and approved by the state Senate this summer.

"I did not feel it was right for our firm to solicit business from the MTA while I served on the board," Mr. Beal said in a telephone interview on Friday. "I said our firm would not engage in the buying and selling of MTA bonds in the secondary market. I thought it would be best not engage in any activities with respect to MTA bonds.

"I've also asked that no employee of the firm hold MTA bonds without prior approval," he said.

The board said the authority will conduct periodic reviews of the performance of all co-managers and selling group members, and will revise assignments as warranted by their performance.

A new selling group will include 30 firms, much smaller than 100 firms that used to participate in the authority's selling group. The authority will double the bonds to be allocated to the selling group in an effort to inspire more active participation.

The size of the selling group was reduced because "we have determined that the quantity of firms was far too many to foster an active interest level in our bond offerings," says the memo prepared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

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