UBS to Settle Auction-Rate Probe (Update 2) - TheStreet

Updated from 12:48 p.m. EDT.

UBS

(UBS) - Get Report

on Friday said it had agreed in principle to a $18.6 billion settlement with state and federal regulators in the widespread auction-rate securities probe.

The agreement, brokered by the

Securities and Exchange Commission

, state regulators in New York and Massachusetts and the North American Securities Administrators Association, will require the Swiss bank to buy back the $8.3 billion worth of the securities from investors who bought them prior to the market's collapse in February, over a two-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2009. Beginning June 2010, it will be required to buy up to $10.3 billion from institutional clients.

The firm also will pay separate, $75 million fines to New York state and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Authorities allege that UBS and several other banks pushed the securities on unsuspecting clients, saying they were as safe as cash.

"Since the breakdown in the market, UBS clients have been offered multiple liquidity options," said Marten Hoekstra, head of UBS Wealth Management Americas. "They have been able to borrow 100% against the value of their holdings. The solutions announced today provide our clients with the widest range of choices in the industry, including a two-year window during which clients can either continue to earn interest or redeem their ARS at any time."

The settlement comes the day after the first major settlement between banks and regulators on behalf of retail investors in auction rate securities.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and SEC officials on Thursday announced a

$7.3 billion settlement

with

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

.

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

responded later in the day by announcing it would buy back some $12 billion in auction-rate securities currently held by retail clients.

Auction-rate securities are long-term debt instruments whose interest rates change at regular intervals. The investments became illiquid in February, after the auctions collapsed.

Merrill and UBS earlier this year entered settlements with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley over what the commonwealth deemed inappropriate sales of the securities to certain municipalities.

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

entered a similar agreement on Thursday.

On Friday,

Bank of New York Mellon

(BK) - Get Report

said in a quarterly filing that the SEC is investigating auction-rate securities transactions in its predecessor firm,

Mellon Financial

. Bank of New York acquired Mellon last year.

According to the filing, the bank disclosed to the SEC that Mellon Financial Markets -- Mellon's former investment banking and full-service securities dealer firm that specialized in public finance, asset backed finance and institutional sales for institutional clients -- placed orders on behalf of issuers to purchase their own auction rate securities. It is cooperating fully with the SEC in its investigation, it says.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

said in a quarterly SEC filing on Thursday that it has received subpoenas from several state and federal agencies requesting information regarding auction-rate securities. It also said that four class action suits related to the sale of the investments were filed against the company during the second quarter.

And a

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

securities office last month

was raided

by a team of 10 securities regulators from Missouri, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states in the wider auction-rate probe.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.