Category: FINRA

FINRA: 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…

May242012

CFIRA Submits Crowdfunding Letter to SEC

The CFIRA (Crowdfund Intermediaries Regulatory Advocates) was established by crowdfunding industry professionals for the purpose of working with the SEC and FINRA on establishing and maintaining crowdfunding rules and industry practices.  As I blogged in the past, I believed at one point, based on news and information released from the CFIRA, that the CFIRA intended to become a self regulatory organization (SRO) and register with the SEC under Section 15A. As of today, it appears that the CFIRA is still working towards the goal of becoming an SRO. In any event, I expect that the CFIRA will be an active participant in the crowdfunding industry and invaluable source of input and information.

CFIRA and the SEC

On May 15, 2012, the CFIRA submitted a comment letter to the SEC regarding the pending Crowdfunding regulations.  The comment letter specifically addressed issues regarding how the general solicitation rules will interact with social media and the internet.  The letter addressed the general solicitation

May142012

SEC Suspends Trading for Record Number of Shell Companies

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today suspended the trading in 379 dormant shell companies.  This is the most trading suspensions in a single day in the history of the SEC.  The trading suspensions are part of an SEC initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group.  Each of the companies was a dormant shell that was lacking any and all public disclosures.  That is, each of the companies failed to have adequate current public information available either through the news service on OTC Markets or filed with the SEC via EDGAR.

The federal securities laws allow the SEC to suspend trading in any stock for up to 10 business days. Once a company is suspended from trading, it cannot be quoted again until it provides updated information including complete disclosure of its business and accurate financial statements.  In addition to providing the necessary information, to begin to trade again, a company must enlist a market maker

Apr242012

SEC Grapples With Crowdfunding Rulemaking

On April 5, 2012 President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law.

 

The SEC’s Rulemaking Duty

Some of the rules went into effect immediately; others are in the drafting process.   Within 90 days of the signing of the Act (i.e. mid July), the SEC is required to issue enabling rules as to other portions of the Act, including rules related to general solicitation and advertising of accredited investors under Rule 506 of Regulation D. For the SEC that is the easy part.

Finally, the SEC has up to 270 days (beginning of 2013) to release rules relating to the new crowdfunding exemption and crowdfunding platform portal regulations. That will be difficult part.  As a matter of background, the biggest opponents of the crowdfunding bill were the SEC and FINRA.  It is easy to see why, the SEC’s mission, direct from their website is:

“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly,

Nov162011

Why Rule 419 Companies May Revitalize the Small-Cap Market

Are Rule 419 Companies poised to be the next big thing in the small-cap sector?

Recently, the small-cap and reverse merger market has diminished substantially. Operating businesses are wary of completing reverse mergers, and PIPE investors are harder to come by. The reasons for this are easily identifiable.

 

First – The General State of the Economy

 

Simply stated, it’s not good.

 

Second – The Backlash from a Series of Fraud Allegations, SEC Enforcement Actions, and Trading Suspensions of Chinese Company’s Following Reverse Mergers

Chinese company reverse mergers dominated the shell company business for years; now there are none.  Moreover, it is unlikely that this area will recover any time soon. The Chinese government and US regulators must reach agreement and a mutual understanding regarding PCAOB review of Chinese audits.  Even then, it may take years for the stigma to fade.

 

Third – The Rule 144 Changes Enacted in 2008

As discussed in previous blogs Rule 144(i),

Oct052011

DTC Eligibility and the OTC Issuer

This is the first in a series of articles I am writing regarding DTC (Depository Trust Company) eligibility for OTC (Over the Counter) Issuers.  OTC Issuers include all companies whose securities trade on the Over the Counter market, including the OTCBB, OTCQB and PinkSheets.

DTC eligibility has become a major concern for OTC Issuers in the past year.  Obtaining and maintaining eligibility is of utmost importance for the smooth trading of an Issuer’s float in the secondary market.  Moreover, DTC eligibility is a prerequisite for OTC Issuers’ shareholders to deposit securities with their brokers and have such securities be placed in street name.  Most Issuers and many legal practitioners do not know or understand the eligibility requirements or procedures.

The DTC Application Process

First and foremost, like a Form 211 submittal to FINRA, an Issuer cannot make direct application to DTC for eligibility.  An application must be submitted and sponsored by a DTC Participant.  A current list of DTC Participants

Jun012011

Filing Deadlines for Exchange Act Quarterly and Annual Reports

It should be noted that this article focuses specifically on non-accelerated filers.

Companies subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) are required to file quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and annual reports on Form 10-K.  In additional articles, I will discuss in depth the contents and specific disclosure requirements of both forms.  However, in summary, the quarterly report on 10-Q contains unaudited reviewed quarterly financial statements together with management discussion and analysis of those statements.

Form 10-K

The annual report on Form 10-K contains audited annual financial statements, together with management discussion and analysis of those statements as well as other disclosures including but not limited to management bios, management compensation, unregistered issuances of stock, generally background on the registrant, internal control reports, litigation matters and more.

Quarterly reports on form 10-Q are due 45 days from the end of the quarter and annual reports on Form 10-K are due

Dec132010

New FINRA Rules For Corporate Actions

Effective September 27, 2010, the SEC has approved new FINRA Rule 6490 (Processing of Company Related Actions). Rule 6490 requires that corporations whose securities are trading on the over the counter market (OTCQX, OTCQB, OTCBB or PinkSheets) timely notify FINRA of certain corporate actions, such as dividends, forward or reverse splits, rights or subscription offerings, and name changes. The Rule grants FINRA discretionary power when processing documents related to the announcements, and implements fees for these services.

FINRA and the OTCBB

FINRA (the Financial Industry National Regulatory Authority) operates the OTC Bulletin Board and processes corporate actions for changes such as splits and name changes. FINRA also issues trading symbols to over the counter (non-exchange) traded issuers and maintains a symbols database for issuers. When processing by FINRA of a corporate action is complete, FINRA notifies the OTC marketplace of such changes and actions, such as repricing securities following a forward or reverse split, or issuing a new trading symbol

Dec092010

Has The OTCBB Been Replaced By The OTCQX And OTCQB?

Over the past few years, the historical “PinkSheets” has undergone some major changes, starting with the creation of certain “tiers” of issuers and culminating in its newly refurbished website and new URL www.otcmarkets.com. Where the term “PinkSheets” used to denote an over the counter quotation system using the website www.pinksheets.com it now simply refers to the lower tier of entities that trade on the over the counter market. In fact the URL www.pinksheets.com no longer exists with users being redirected to the new www.otcmarkets.com.

Three Levels of Reporting

The new www.otcmarkets.com divides issuers into three (3) levels: OTCQX; OTCQB and PinkSheets. The new website also provides quotes for the OTCBB but it seems this is just more as a comfort or segue until the industry gets used to the idea that the “bulletin board” is no more. The OTCBB has no particular listing or quotation requirements other than that the issuer be subject to the reporting requirements of

Oct192009

New FINRA Requirements for Corporate Actions Require More Thorough Documentation on Behalf of Issuers

If you are a private company looking to go public on the OTCBB, securities attorney Laura Anthony provides expert legal advice and ongoing corporate counsel. Ms. Anthony counsels private and small public companies nationwide regarding reverse mergers, corporate transactions and all aspects of securities law.

As of December 1, 2008, the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) began a new policy for effectuating corporate actions for OTCBB quoted and traded securities (securities quoted and traded on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board and the PinkSheets). Corporate actions include anything that would require notification to FINRA and the issuance of a new trading symbol, such as a name change, reverse or forward stock split.

Prior to the initiation of the new procedures, Issuers making corporate changes were only required to submit a short cover letter explaining the action and providing the new CUSIP number. In addition, they were required to submit a copy of the documents evidencing the corporate action, including board

Oct072009

Potential Impact of Rule SEC Release #34-60515 Regarding Proposal to Extend Regulation NMS Coverage to OTC Securities

FINRA, in August of 2009, filed Release No. 34-60515 with the SEC. FINRA proposes to extend certain NMS protections to quoting and trading in the OTC market for equity securities.

In summary:

  1. Restrictions on sub-penny quoting;
  2. Prohibitions on locked or crossed markets;
  3. Implementation of caps on access fees;
  4. Requirements of transparency of customer limit orders.

FINRA’s goals, part of broadly anticipated changes in financial systems, are proposed as part of efforts to both modernize and achieve higher “quality” in the OTC marketplace.

1. Sub-Penny Quote Restrictions

FINRA addresses both issues of modernization and higher quality by proposing to restrict sub-penny quoting in conjunction with removing the requirement that ATS’s include non-subscriber access fees within its quote. Restricting sub-penny quoting may help prevent the practice of “stepping ahead” of displayed limit orders by trivial amounts.

The proposal will most effect small businesses whose securities trade for under $1.00. Under FINRA’s proposal, market participants will be able to quote in increments ranging