Category: Going Public

Going Public: One of the largest areas of my firms practice involves going public transactions. I have written extensively on the various going public methods, including IPO/DPOs and reverse mergers. The topic never loses relevancy, and those considering a transaction always ask about the differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, both reverse mergers and direct and initial public offerings. This blog is an updated new edition of past articles on the topic…

Jun302015

Going Public Transactions For Smaller Companies: Direct Public Offering And Reverse Merger

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Introduction

One of the largest areas of my firms practice involves going public transactions.  I have written extensively on the various going public methods, including IPO/DPOs and reverse mergers.  The topic never loses relevancy, and those considering a transaction always ask about the differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, both reverse mergers and direct and initial public offerings.  This blog is an updated new edition of past articles on the topic.

Over the past decade the small-cap reverse merger, initial public offering (IPO) and direct public offering (DPO) markets diminished greatly.  The decline was a result of both regulatory changes and economic changes.  In particular, briefly, those reasons were:  (1) the recent Great Recession; (2) backlash from a series of fraud allegations, SEC enforcement actions, and trading suspensions of Chinese companies following reverse mergers; (3) the 2008 Rule 144 amendments, including the prohibition of use of the rule for shell company

Sep152014

SEC Files Dozens of Charges for Violations of the Section 16 and Section 13 Corporate Insider Reporting Requirements

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Introduction

On September 10, 2014, the SEC filed 28 separate actions against officers, directors and major shareholders and an additional 6 actions against reporting companies, all stemming from violations of the reporting requirements contained in Sections 13 and 16 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”).  The SEC announced that it had created a task force to investigate violations using quantitative data sources and ranking algorithms to identify repetitive late filers.  The SEC settled with all but one of the charged for a total of $2.6 million in penalties.

The actions against insiders and major shareholders were based on direct violations of their individual reporting requirements.  The actions against reporting companies were for “contributing to” the violations.  In these cases, the companies had contractually agreed to take on the responsibility of making the filings for their insiders, and had been delinquent in doing so.

Historically the SEC has rarely

Mar182014

Guide to Reverse Merger Transaction

What is a reverse merger?  What is the process?

A reverse merger is the most common alternative to an initial public offering (IPO) or direct public offering (DPO) for a company seeking to go public.  A “reverse merger” allows a privately held company to go public by acquiring a controlling interest in, and merging with, a public operating or public shell company.  The SEC defines a “shell company” as a publically traded company with (1) no or nominal operations and (2) either no or nominal assets or assets consisting solely of any amount of cash and cash equivalents.

In a reverse merger process, the private operating company shareholders exchange their shares of the private company for either new or existing shares of the public company so that

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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Jan212014

Direct Public Offering or Reverse Merger; Know Your Best Option for Going Public

Introduction

For at least the last twelve months, I have received calls daily from companies wanting to go public.  This interest in going public transactions signifies a big change from the few years prior.

Beginning in 2009, the small-cap and reverse merger, initial public offering (IPO) and direct public offering (DPO) markets diminished greatly.  I can identify at least seven main reasons for the downfall of the going public transactions.  Briefly, those reasons are:  (1) the general state of the economy, plainly stated, was not good; (2) backlash from a series of fraud allegations, SEC enforcement actions, and trading suspensions of Chinese companies following reverse mergers; (3) the 2008 Rule 144 amendments including the prohibition of use of the rule for shell company and former shell company shareholders; (4) problems clearing penny stock with broker dealers and FINRA’s enforcement of broker-dealer and clearing house due diligence requirements related to penny stocks; (5) DTC scrutiny and difficulty in obtaining clearance following

Feb262013

Structuring The Private Placement Investment- Development Stage Or Start Up Company Valuation

The question:

As the economy has been gaining strength, so have the number of entrepreneurs seeking private equity investments through pre-packaged structured private placement offerings, and negotiated venture and angel capital sources.  A question that arises almost daily in my practice is how to determine a valuation for a development stage or start-up venture.  Determining a valuation is instrumental to answering the overriding questions of what percentage of a company is being sold and at what price.

The Answer:

For business entities with operating history, revenue, profit margins and the like, valuation is determined by mathematical calculations and established mathematically based matrixes.  For a development stage or start-up venture, the necessary elements to complete a mathematical analysis simply do not exist.

In the case of a pre-packaged private placement offering for a development stage or start up venture, valuation is an arbitrary guess, a best estimate.  In the case of a negotiated investment with a venture capital or angel

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),

Jun162010

Direct Public Offerings And The Internet

In today’s financial environment, many Issuers are choosing to self underwrite their public offerings, commonly referred to as a Direct Public Offering (DPO). Moreover, as almost all potential investors have computers, many Issuers are choosing to utilize the Internet for such DPO’s. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published rules for utilizing the Internet for an offering.

To comply with the SEC rules for electronic use, an Issuer must comply with the following minimum rules, among others:

  • An electronic prospectus must provide the same information as a paper written prospectus;
  • The Investor must elect to receive electronic delivery of the prospectus and must be provided with personal access codes to access electronic materials over the Internet;
  • The Investor must pre-qualify to receive the offering materials (such as being in a particular state, being accredited, etc.) prior to receiving access codes;
  • The Investor must be immediately notified of any amendments or changes in the offering documents; and
  • The Issuer must
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Mar192010

Form 10 Registration Statements

A Form 10 Registration Statement is a registration statement used to register a class of securities pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”). To explain a Form 10 registration statement, let’s start with what it isn’t. It is not used to register specific securities for sale or re-sale and does not change the transferability of any securities. That is, a Form 10 registration statement does not register a security for the purposes of Section 5[1] of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) . Following the effectiveness of a Form 10 registration statement, restricted securities remain restricted and free trading securities remain free trading.

The Purpose of Form 10 Registration Statements

Now onto what a Form 10 registration is. As indicated above a Form 10 registration statement is used to register a class of securities. Any Company with in excess of $10,000,000 in total assets and 750 or more record shareholders

Jan222010

Rule 144 and the Evergreen Requirement Examined

Technically Rule 144 provides a safe harbor from the definition of the term “underwriter” such that a selling shareholder may utilize the exemption contained in Section 4(1) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, to sell their restricted securities. In addition, Rule 144 is used to remove the restrictive legend from securities in advance of a sale. In layman terms, Rule 144, allows shareholders to either remove the restrictive legend or sell their unregistered shares.

Rule 144(i), as amended, provides in pertinent part that the Rule is unavailable to issuers with no or nominal operations or no or nominal non-cash assets. That is the rule is unavailable for the use by shareholders of any company that is or was at any time previously, a shell company. A shell company is one with no or nominal operations and either no or nominal assets, assets consisting solely of cash and cash equivalents or assets consisting of any amount of cash and