Aug022016

SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies Issues Further Recommendations On Accredited Investor Definition

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On July 19, 2016, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) met and drafted its recommendations and response to the SEC report on the definition of accredited investor.  The subject of changes to the definition of accredited investor has been debated in a series of reports, recommendations, proposals and comment letters since early 2015.

On December 18, 2015, the SEC issued a 118-page report on the definition of “accredited investor” (the “report”).  The report follows the March 2015 SEC Advisory Committee recommendations related to the definition.  The SEC is reviewing the definition of “accredited investor” as directed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that the SEC review the definition as relates to “natural persons” every four years to determine if it should be modified or adjusted.  See my blog HERE on the report and additional background on the subject.

At the July 19 meeting, the Advisory

Jan122016

SEC Issues Report On Accredited Investor Definition

On December 18, 2015, the SEC issued a 118-page report on the definition of “Accredited Investor” (the “Report”). The report follows the March 2015 SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) recommendations related to the definition. The SEC is reviewing the definition of “accredited investor” as directed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that the SEC review the definition as relates to “natural persons” every four years to determine if it should be modified or adjusted.

The definition of “accredited investor” has not been comprehensively re-examined by regulators since its adoption in 1982; however, in 2011 the Dodd-Frank Act amended the definition to exclude a person’s primary residence from the net worth test of accreditation.

Although the Report contains detailed discussions on the various aspects of the definition of an accredited investor, the history of the different aspects of the definition, a discussion of different approaches taken in other U.S. regulations and in foreign

Mar172015

SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies’ Recommendations On Accredited Investor Definition

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 17, 2014 and again on March 4, 2015, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) met and finalized its recommendation to the SEC regarding the definition of “accredited investor.”  The Advisory Committee unanimously approved the recommendation, which is decidedly pro small business and supportive of facilitating capital formation, and communicated such recommendation to the SEC in a letter dated March 9, 2015 (the “Letter”).  The Letter contains a pragmatic discussion of the importance of small business capital formation, the importance of the “accredited investor” definition, and the lack of connection between the definition and fraud prevention.

As set forth in the Advisory Committee Letter, the committee was organized by the SEC to provide advice on SEC rules, regulations and policies regarding “its mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitating capital formation” as related to “(i) capital raising by emerging privately

Jul152014

SEC Extends Valuable Guidance to Determine and Verify Accredited Investors

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On July 3, 2014, the SEC updated its Division of Corporation Finance Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations ) to provide guidance as to the determination and verification of accredited investor status for purposes of Rule 506 offering.  The SEC published six new C&DI’s on the topic.

Background

Effective September 23, 2013, the SEC adopted final rules eliminating the prohibition against general solicitation and advertising in Rules 506 and 144A offerings as required by Title II of the JOBS Act.  For a complete discussion of the final rules, please see my blog Here.

Title II of the JOBS Act required the SEC to amend Rule 506 of Regulation D

Feb272013

Implementation Of The Elimination Of The Prohibition Against Advertising For Private Accredited Investor Offerings And The Crowdfunding Act, Continues To Be Delayed

The annual “SEC Speaks” conference, in which Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) representatives review the agency’s efforts over the past year and preview the year to come, was held on February 22-23, 2013.

During the conference the SEC laid out the numerous items on its agenda for the year to come and beyond.  The list included the careful implementation of the various titles of the JOBS Act, including Title II and Title III.

Title II of the JOBS Act provides that the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors.  Although on August 29, 2012 the SEC published proposed rules implementing Title II, those rules have been met with numerous comments and opposition and it is entirely unclear how the SEC shall proceed. 

Jul122012

What is an Accredited Investor or a Qualified Institutional Investor Anyway?

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Title II of the JOBS Act provides that the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. The JOBS Act directs the SEC to make the same amendment to Rule 144A so long as all purchasers in the Rule 144A offering are qualified institutional buyers.  Neither a Rule 506 offering nor a Rule 144A offering will be considered a public offering (i.e. will lose its exemption) by virtue of a general solicitation or general advertising so long as the issuer has taken reasonable steps to verify that purchasers are either accredited investors or qualified institutional buyers, respectively.  Since it would be impossible to ensure that only accredited investors, or qualified institutional buyers, receive, review or become aware of

Aug132010

Dodd-Frank Act Changes Definition Of Accredited Investor Effective Immediately

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). After many revisions, the final Dodd-Frank Act has only minor effects on securities Issuers and their investors. The primary change, which takes effect immediately, is a modification to the definition of “accredited investor” contained in the Securities Act of 1933. In particular: (i) as it relates to natural persons, the $1,000,000 net worth standard must now be calculated excluding the value of the primary residence of such natural person; and (2) the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been mandated to review the entire accredited investor definition within four (4) years and make appropriate changes within that time, without additional act of Congress.

Increased Net Worth Requirements

This change effectively increases the net worth requirements for investors, whose largest asset is often their primary residence. Although the SEC has not yet issued any guidance or other information on the change,

Jan282010

Section 4(6) Registration Exemption for Accredited Investors

Section 4(6) provides a registration exemption for offerings to accredited investors, if the aggregate offering amounts up to the dollar limit of Section 3(b) (currently $5,000,000), if there is no advertising or public solicitation in connection with the transaction by the Issuer or anyone acting on the Issuer’s behalf.

The term accredited investor is defined in section 2(a)(15) and generally includes:

  • Banks, insurance companies and pension plans;
  • Corporations, partnerships and business entities with over $5 million in assets;
  • Directors, executive officers and general partners of the issuer;
  • Natural persons with over $1 million net worth or over $200,000 in annual income for two years; and
  • Entities, all of whose equity owners are accredited.

In addition, the SEC has the power to define as an accredited investor any person, who, on the basis of such factors as financial sophistication, net worth, knowledge, and experience in financial matters, or amount of assets under management qualifies as an accredited investor.

Section 4(6) and

Feb072017

House Passes Creating Financial Prosperity For Business And Investors Act

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 5, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Creating Financial Prosperity for Businesses and Investors Act (H.R. 6427) (the “Act”), continuing the House’s pro-business legislation spree. The Act is actually comprised of six smaller acts, all of which have previously been considered and passed by the House in 2016. The Act is comprised of: (i) Title I: The Small Business Capital Formation Enhancement Act (H.R. 4168); (ii) Title II: The SEC Small Business Advocate Act (H.R. 3784); (iii) Title III: The Supporting American’s Innovators Act (H.R. 4854); (iv) Title IV: The Fix Crowdfunding Act (H.R. 4855); (v) Title V: The Fair Investment Opportunities for Professionals Experts Act (H.R. 2187); and (vi) Title VI: The U.S. Territories Investor Protection Act (H.R. 5322).

Title I: The Small Business Capital Formation Enhancement Act (H.R. 4168)

This Act requires the SEC to respond to the findings and recommendations of the SEC’s annual Government-Business Forum

Sep152015

SEC Issues Investor Alert Warning That Fantasy Stock Trading Websites May Violate Securities Laws

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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At the end of June, the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy issued an Investor Alert and reminded us all that the net of federal securities laws is far-reaching.  The Investor Alert warns investors that fantasy stock trading and similar websites violate federal securities laws and, in particular, the “security-based swap” regulations enacted by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The SEC Investor Alert warns against websites that claim to offer a chance to make money from publicly traded or privately held companies without actually buying stock.  Generally the sites are set up as a “fantasy” trading game or competition and involve a small entry fee with the chance to win a larger payment if you win the fantasy competition.  The SEC has taken the position that these fantasy stock trading programs could potentially involve security-based swaps and implicate both the federal securities and commodities laws.  The SEC has and is continuing to investigate the