Feds probe IPO deals

Report: Investigating if Wall St. sought big commissions to sell investors hot new IPOs

New York, December 7, 2000: 1:12 a.m. ET  (CNNfn) - Federal officials are probing whether Wall Street securities firms asked some big investors to pay unusually large trading commissions in exchange for hot initial-public-stock offerings, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal's Web site reported Thursday morning that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan are conducting the inquiry.

A federal grand jury has also been called by the U.S. attorney's office to consider evidence, the story said. Both the U.S. attorney's office and the SEC have issued subpoenas to IPO participants, requesting trading records and other documents, the story added. The story was attributed to people familiar with the matter.

The authorities are scrutinizing ways in which Wall Street dealers may have sought and obtained larger-than-typical trading commissions in return for giving coveted allocations of IPOs to certain investors, the Journal reported.

Some of the arrangements could have included specific formulas tied to the investors'  profits on the offerings, the story said. Many of the offerings doubled or more in their first day of trading during an IPO mania that began in late 1998.

An early focus of the investigation is the Credit Suisse First Boston unit of Credit Suisse Group, the story said.

CSFB officials confirmed the inquiry in a written statement, according to the Journal. "We have received requests from governmental agencies for information regarding the allocation of shares to investors in IPOs," CSFB said.

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