Category: Broker Dealer Registration Requirements

Broker Dealer Registration Requirements: The SEC’s Guide to Broker-Dealer Registration (the “Guide”)lists the following examples of activities and factors where broker registration may be required…

Oct252016

Florida Broker-Dealer Registration Exemption For M&A Brokers

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Following the SEC’s lead, effective July 1, 2016, Florida has passed a statutory exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for entities effecting securities transactions in connection with the sale of equity control in private operating businesses (“M&A Broker”). As discussed further below, the new Florida statute, together with the SEC M&A Broker exemption, may have paved the way for Florida residents to act as an M&A broker in reverse or forward merger transactions involving OTCQX-traded public companies without broker-dealer registration.

Florida has historically had stringent broker-dealer registration requirements in connection with the offer and sale of securities. Moreover, Florida does not always mirror the federal registration requirements or exemptions. For example, see my blog HERE detailing some state blue sky concerns when dealing with Florida, including the lack of an issuer exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for public offerings.

However, in a move helpful to merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in the

Jan262016

FINRA Proposes New Category Of Broker-Dealer For “Capital Acquisition Brokers”

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In December, 2015, FINRA proposed rules for a whole new category of broker-dealer, called “Capital Acquisition Brokers” (“CABs”), which limit their business to corporate financing transactions. In February 2014 FINRA sought comment on the proposal, which at the time referred to a CAB as a limited corporate financing broker (LCFB). Following many comments that the LCFB rules did not have a significant impact on the regulatory burden for full member firms, the new rules modify the original LCFB proposal in more than just name. The new rules will take effect upon approval by the SEC and are currently open to public comments.

A CAB will generally be a broker-dealer that engages in M&A transactions, raising funds through private placements and evaluating strategic alternatives and that collects transaction based compensation for such activities. A CAB will not handle customer funds or securities, manage customer accounts or engage in market making or proprietary trading.

As

Aug252015

Finders- The Facts Related To Broker-Dealer Registration Requirements

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Introduction

As a recurring topic, I discuss exemptions to the broker-dealer registration requirements for entities and individuals that assist companies in fundraising and related services.  I have previously discussed the no-action-letter-based exemption for M&A brokers, the exemptions for websites restricted to accredited investors and for crowdfunding portals as part of the JOBS Act and the statutory exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements found in Securities Exchange Act Rule 3a4-1, including for officers, directors and key employees of an issuer.  I have also previously published a blog on the American Bar Association’s recommendations for the codification of an exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for private placement finders.   I’ve included links to each of these prior articles in the conclusion to this blog. 

A related topic with a parallel analysis is the use of finders for investors and investor groups, an activity which has become prevalent in today’s marketplace.  In that case the investor

May122015

SEC Proposes Broadening Of Broker-Dealer Registration Rules To Include Proprietary And High-Frequency Traders

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On March 25, 2015, the SEC proposed rule amendments to require high-frequency and off-exchange traders to become members of FINRA.  The amendments would increase regulatory oversight over these traders.

Over the years many active cross-market proprietary trading firms have emerged, many of which engage in high-frequency trading.  These firms generally rely on the broad proprietary trading exemption in rule 15b9-1 to forgo membership with, and therefore regulatory oversight by, FINRA.  The rule change is specifically designed to require these high-frequency traders to become members of FINRA and submit to its review and oversight. 

The proposed rule change amends Rule 15b9-1 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) to narrow a current exemption from FINRA membership if the broker is a member of a national securities exchange, carries no customer accounts and has annual gross income of no more than $1,000 derived from sources other than the exchange to

Dec162014

SEC Sanctions BITCOIN Exchange Operator-A Case Study In Basic Registration And Exemption Requirements

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 8, 2014, the SEC settled charges against a creative, but ill informed, entrepreneur for acting as an unlicensed broker-dealer and for violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.  Ethan Burnside and his company, BTC Trading Corp., operated two online enterprises, BTC Virtual Stock Exchange and LTC-Global Virtual Stock Exchange, that traded securities using virtual currencies, bitcoin or litecoin.  Neither of these exchanges were registered as broker-dealers or stock exchanges.  In addition, Burnside and his company conducted separate transactions in which he offered investors the opportunity to use virtual currencies to buy or sell shares in the LTC-Global exchange itself and a separate litecoin mining venture he owned and operated.  These offerings were not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws.

According to the SEC release on the matter, “the exchanges provided account holders the ability to use bitcoin or litecoin to buy,

May202014

Exemption to Broker-Dealer Registration Requirements for Officers, Directors and Key Employees

The topic of using unlicensed persons to assist in fundraising activities is discussed almost daily in the small and microcap community.  For many years the SEC has maintained a staunch view that any and all activities that could fall within the broker-dealer registration requirements set forth in Section 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), require registration. See also the SEC Guide to Broker-Dealer Registration on the SEC website.

In my blog on February 18th, 2014  I talked about the new no-action-letter-based exemption for M&A brokers, the exemptions for websites restricted to accredited investors and for crowdfunding portals as part of the JOBS Act.   In this blog, I am focusing on the statutory exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements found in Securities Exchange Act Rule 3a4-1, including for officers, directors and key employees of an issuer.

Exchange Act Rule 3a4-1  – Persons Associated with an Issuer that are not Required to be Licensed as

Feb182014

The SEC Establishes Key Exemption to the Broker-Dealer Registration Requirements for M&A Brokers

On January 31, 2014, the SEC Division of Trading and Markets issued a no-action letter in favor of entities effecting securities transactions in connection with the sale of equity control of private operating businesses (“M&A Broker”).  The SEC stated that it would not require broker-dealer registration for M&A Brokers arranging for the sale of private businesses, in accordance with the facts and circumstances set forth in the no action letter, as described below.

For many years the SEC has maintained a staunch view that any and all activities that could fall within the broker-dealer registration requirements set forth in Section 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), require registration. See also the SEC Guide to Broker-Dealer Registration (2008) on the SEC website.

In accordance with the SEC Guide to Broker-Dealer Registration, providing any of the following services may require the individual or entity to be registered as a broker-dealer:

  • “finders,” “business brokers,” and
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Sep032013

Will FINRA Rule Changes Related to Private Placement Further Deter Broker Dealers From Placing the Securities of Small Businesses?

On August 19, 2013, FINRA published Regulatory Notice 13-26 about the updated Private Placement Form that firms must file with FINRA when acting as a placement agent for the private placement of securities.  A copy of the form is included with the regulatory notice at www.finra.org/web/groups/industry/@ip/@reg/@notice/documents/notices/p325359.pdf.  The Form went effective on July 1, 2013.  FINRA has also updated the FAQs relating to the Private Placement Form.  The updated Private Placement Form has six new questions:

  • Is this a contingency offering?
  • Does the issuer have
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