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Post date: February 26 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Far-Reaching Agreements With Wall Street Firms To Stop Cooperating With Analyst Surveys

Interim Agreements Are Latest Development In Industrywide Investigation Into Early Release Of Analyst Sentiment, Following Agreement With BlackRock To Terminate World’s Largest Analyst Survey

Schneiderman: Firms Have Shown Leadership In Combatting “Insider Trading 2.0”

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced interim agreements with a number of prominent firms to stop their practice of cooperating with analyst surveys administered by certain elite, technologically sophisticated clients at the expense of others—a practice that can put the market at large at an unfair disadvantage

Last month, the Attorney General announced his Office’s groundbreaking agreement with BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to end its practice of systematically surveying Wall Street analysts for their opinions on firms they cover.  At that time, the Attorney General announced that his investigation would continue into those firms that answered surveys.

Today, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the first major results of that effort, as his office has secured interim agreements with all 18 financial firms contacted – Merrill Lynch, UBS Securities LLC, Barclays Capital Inc., Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Jefferies LLC, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc., Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. (a division of Stifel), Thomas Weisel Partners (a division of Stifel), Macquarie Group, Vertical Research Partners, FBR Capital Markets & Co. and Wolfe Research – to discontinue or to continue refraining from the practice of cooperating with such surveys and to continue their cooperation with the Attorney General’s investigation into the early release of analyst sentiment.  The firms have agreed to suspend participation in any survey worldwide that relates to companies listed on U.S. exchanges. 

“At my request, these firms have agreed to stop a practice that can offer an advantage to powerful clients at the expense of others,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our markets will only be fair and healthy if everyone plays by the same rules, which is why we will continue to take action against those who provide unfair advantages to elite traders at the expense of the rest of us. I applaud these firms for their leadership and cooperation.”

In a speech delivered at the Bloomberg Market 50 Summit in September 2013, the Attorney General outlined his concern about the early release of market-moving data to preferred investors in a practice he dubbed “Insider Trading 2.0.”  In the speech, he expressed concern regarding brokerage firm analysts who provide answers to surveys that give traders a sneak peek into forthcoming analyst reports.  In January, the Attorney General’s investigation into BlackRock’s survey revealed that a number of questions were worded to capture analysts’ views regarding management, competitive position, earnings, and other aspects of covered companies. The Attorney General’s Office determined that the design, timing, and structure of the surveys allowed BlackRock to obtain information from analysts that could be used to front-run future analyst revisions.   

The Attorney General Office’s investigation into the early release of Wall Street analyst sentiment is led by Chad Johnson, Chief of the Investor Protection Bureau; Nicholas Suplina, Senior Advisor and Special Counsel; Assistant Attorneys General Kenneth Haim, John Castiglione, Anjna Kapoor, and Jordan Salberg; and Karla G. Sanchez, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice. 

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