The Securities and Exchange Commission has said it will begin accepting registration statements for ABS deals as early as March 1, as part of its pilot program to help issuers and their counsel gain comfort with Regulation AB, the industry's first rule tailored specifically for asset-backed securities. The rule becomes effective March 8, but many of its disclosure requirements become effective for deals securitized after Jan. 1, 2006, at which time the pilot program will end.

Hard copies of registration statements will be privately submitted to the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance for review. Staff of the Division will then reply to the issuer and its counsel with instructions on how the registration statement should be changed to better comply with Reg AB. Max Webb, head of the division's operations group, said personal meetings between counsel and division staff may be necessary in some cases, but most will be handled via written correspondence. "This is a great chance for issuers and law firms to gain familiarity with the rule on a confidential basis," said Webb.

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