US securities regulators pledged on Thursday to quickly resolve their investigations into Wall Street conflicts of interest in ways that â€œhelp enhance investor confidence.â€�
The united front of regulators was forged after months of confusion in the markets over the growing number of Wall Street probes being conducted at the national and state level.
The regulatory competition began when Eliot Spitzer, New York state attorney-general, launched his investigation into equity research, putting pressure on Harvey Pitt, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, to do something on the federal level to resolve growing investor anxieties.
The regulators that pledged to work together on Thursday included the SEC, Mr Spitzerâ€™s office, the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers and the North American Securities Administratorsâ€™ Association.
The regulators said they were seeking a â€œa speedy and co-ordinated conclusionâ€� to the various investigations into analyst research and initial public offering allocations.
The regulators said in the â€œnext few weeksâ€� they would try to put together â€œa common planâ€� to resolve conflicts of interest allegations.
The plan will be used as a template to reach individual settlements with companies under investigation and to provide a basis for any potential changes in industry rules.
The regulators said once the present proposed settlements, the companies under investigation will have â€œa brief periodâ€� to enter into final agreements. Companies that fail to settle will face continuing investigations.
The prospect of a global settlement to the probes had been floated by Citigroup as it sought to fend off investigations into its Salomon Smith Barney investment banking arm.
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