Merrill Faces Questions on Auction Debt


Merrill Lynch has received requests from governmental agencies for information regarding auction-rate securities, including the recent failure of auctions, and is cooperating with the requests, the company said Tuesday.

The $330 billion market for the securities -- long-term bonds whose rates are reset periodically -- froze this winter.

Investors flooded dealers with paper backed by bond issuers whom they feared would lose their 'triple-A' credit ratings.

As a result, many municipal bond issuers, including ones whose creditworthiness was considered sound, were forced for several weeks to pay unusually high interest rates, often reaching well into double digits.

Merrill , an investment bank and brokerage, disclosed the information requests in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.