12 CFR 220.119 - Applicability of margin requirements to credit extended to corporation in connection with retirement of stock.
(a) The Board of Governors has been asked whether part 220 was violated when a dealer in securities transferred to a corporation 4,161 shares of the stock of such corporation for a consideration of $33,288, of which only 10 percent was paid in cash.
(b) If the transaction was of a kind that must be included in the corporation's “general account” with the dealer (§ 220.3), it would involve an excessive extension of credit in violation of § 220.3 (b)(1). However, the transaction would be permissible if the transaction came within the scope of § 220.4(f)(8), which permits a “creditor” (such as the dealer) to “Extend and maintain credit to or for any customer without collateral or on any collateral whatever for any purpose other than purchasing or carrying or trading in securities.” Accordingly, the crucial question is whether the corporation, in this transaction, was “purchasing” the 4,161 shares of its stock, within the meaning of that term as used in this part.
(c) Upon first examination, it might seem apparent that the transaction was a purchase by the corporation. From the viewpoint of the dealer the transaction was a sale, and ordinarily, at least a sale by one party connotes a purchase by the other. Furthermore, other indicia of a sale/purchase transaction were present, such as a transfer of property for a pecuniary consideration. However, when the underlying objectives of the margin regulations are considered, it appears that they do not encompass a transaction of this nature, where securities are transferred on credit to the issuer thereof for the purpose of retirement.
(d) Section 7(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 requires the Board of Governors to prescribe margin regulations “For the purpose of preventing the excessive use of credit for the purchase or carrying of securities.” Accordingly, the provisions of this part are not intended to prevent the use of credit where the transaction will not have the effect of increasing the volume of credit in the securities markets.
(e) It appears that the instant transaction would have no such effect. When the transaction was completed, the equity interest of the dealer was transmuted into a dollar-obligation interest; in lieu of its status as a stockholder of the corporation, the dealer became a creditor of that corporation. The corporation did not become the owner of any securities acquired through the use of credit; its outstanding stock was simply reduced by 4,161 shares.
(f) The meaning of “sale” and “purchase” in the Securities Exchange Act has been considered by the Federal courts in a series of decisions dealing with corporate “insiders” profits under section 16(b) of that Act. Although the statutory purpose sought to be effectuated in those cases is quite different from the purpose of the margin regulations, the decisions in question support the propriety of not regarding a transaction as a “purchase” where this accords with the probable legislative intent, even though, literally, the statutory definition seems to include the particular transaction. See Roberts v. Eaton (CA 2 1954) 212 F. 2d 82, and cases and other authorities there cited. The governing principle, of course, is to effectuate the purpose embodied in the statutory or regulatory provision being interpreted, even where that purpose may conflict with the literal words. U.S. v. Amer. Trucking Ass'ns, 310 U.S. 534, 543 (1940); 2 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3d ed. 1943) ch. 45.
(g) There can be little doubt that an extension of credit to a corporation to enable it to retire debt securities would not be for the purpose of “purchasing * * * securities” and therefore would come within § 220.4(f)(8), regardless of whether the retirement was obligatory (e.g., at maturity) or was a voluntary “call” by the issuer. This is true, it is difficult to see any valid distinction, for this purpose, between (1) voluntary retirement of an indebtedness security and (2) voluntary retirement of an equity security.
(h) For the reasons indicated above, it is the opinion of the Board of Governors that the extension of credit here involved is not of the kind which the margin requirements are intended to regulate and that the transaction described does not involve an unlawful extension of credit as far as this part is concerned.
(i) The foregoing interpretation relates, of course, only to cases of the type described. It should not be regarded as governing any other situations; for example, the interpretation does not deal with cases where securities are being transferred to someone other than the issuer, or to the issuer for a purpose other than immediate retirement. Whether the margin requirements are inapplicable to any such situations would depend upon the relevant facts of actual cases presented.