Category: JOBS ACT

JOBS ACT: On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing American’s Surface Transportation Act (the “FAST Act”) into law, which included many capital markets/securities-related bills. The FAST Act is being dubbed the JOBS Act 2.0 by many industry insiders. The FAST Act has an aggressive rulemaking timetable and some of its provisions became effective immediately upon signing the bill into law on December 4, 2015…

Jan062015

SEC Issues Several Proposed Rule Changes Pertaining To JOBs Act

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 18, 2014, the SEC published proposed rule amendments to implement portions of Title V and Title VI of the JOBS Act by amending rules promulgated under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).  The proposed amendments will revise the Section 12(g) rules to reflect the new, higher shareholder thresholds for triggering registration requirements and for allowing the voluntary termination of registration or suspension of reporting obligations.  The proposed rules also make similar changes related to banks, bank holding companies, and savings and loan companies. 

The proposed rules establish the time for determining accredited status for purposes of calculating shareholders of record and the corresponding application of the registration and deregistration rules.  In particular, the proposed rules set the last day of the fiscal year as the relevant calculation moment effectively imposing an obligation on issuers to obtain, and investors to give, updated representations following an initial

Dec302014

First Issuer Completes NASAA Coordinated Review For Regulation A Offering

 ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The first issuer has completed the NASAA coordinated review process to qualify to sell securities in multiple states under Regulation A.  As the first and only issuer to complete this process, the issuer (Groundfloor Finance, Inc.) took the time to write a comment letter to the SEC with respect to its Regulation A+ rulemaking and in particular to discuss its experience with the NASAA coordinated review process.  The issuer’s comment letter was followed by a letter to SEC Chair Mary Jo White from the House Financial Services Committee requesting that the SEC study the NASAA Coordinated Review Program.

 The Coordinated Review Process 

The NASAA coordinated review process is well put together and seems to have a focus on both investor protection and supportive assistance for the issuer.  An issuer elects to complete the coordinated review process by completing a Form CR-3b and submitting the application together with a copy of the completed Form

Dec022014

Private Offering Rule Changes Since JOBS Act

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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As the end of 2014 approaches, I find myself reflecting on the significant successes and failures in the private offering arena since the enactment of the Jumpstart our Business Startups Act (“JOBS Act”) on April 5, 2012.  Some provisions under the JOBS Act became law without further rule-making action on the part of the SEC; others took time to pass; and significantly, Title III Crowdfunding, the most anticipated change in capital market access, has completely stalled.  This blog is a summary of the in-depth detailed blogs I’ve previously written on each of these topics with some added commentary.

506(c) – The Elimination of the Prohibition Against General Solicitation and Advertising in Private Offerings to Accredited Investors; Broker-Dealer Exemption for 506(c) Funding Websites

The enactment of new 506(c) resulting in the elimination of the prohibition against general solicitation and advertising in private offerings to accredited investors has been a slow but sure success.  Trailblazers

Oct212014

SEC Issues Advertising Guidance Related to State-Specific Crowdfunding

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 23, 2013, the SEC published proposed crowdfunding rules.  The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” The entire 584-page text of the rule release is available on the SEC website.  As of today, it is unclear when final rules will be released and passed into law and what changes those final rules will have from the proposed rules.  Moreover, upon passage of the final rules, there will be a period of ramping-up time in which crowdfunding portals complete the process of registering with the SEC, becoming members of FINRA and completing the necessary steps to ensure that their portal operates in compliance with those final rules.  Federal crowdfunding is coming, but it is a slow process.

In the meantime, several states have either enacted or introduced state-specific crowdfunding legislation.

Federal Authority for State Crowdfunding Legislation

Both the federal government

Aug192014

NASAA and US Senate Oppose State Law Pre-Emption in Proposed Regulation A+

On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, commonly referred to as Regulation A+.  Since that time there has been very little activity towards the advancement of a final rule.  The comment period closed March 24, 2014, and presumably the SEC is analyzing the information and deciding on the next reiteration.

NASAA

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), a group whose members are comprised of state securities regulators, while supportive of the Regulation A+ concept as a whole, has been vocal of its opposition of the proposed state law pre-emption provisions.

Notably, on April 8, 2014, Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar, the NASAA liaison, gave a speech at the North American Securities Administrators Association commenting on the NASAA’s position.  In the speech Mr. Aguilar praised the concept of the rule itself, including the two-tier structure, offering amount limits and importantly ongoing reporting requirements.  He expressed agreement with many of the same

Aug122014

Corporate Communications During the Public Offering Process; Avoid Gun Jumping

The public offering process is divided into three periods: (1) the quiet or pre-filing period, (2) the waiting or pre-effective period, and (3) the post-effective period.  Communications made by the company during any of these three periods may, depending on the mode and content, result in violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”).  Communication related violations of Section 5 are often referred to as “gun jumping.”  All forms of communication could create “gun jumping” issues (e.g., press releases, interviews, and use of social media).  “Gun jumping” refers to written or oral offers of securities made before the filing of the registration statement and written offers made after the filing of the registration statement other than by means of a prospectus that meet the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act, a free writing prospectus or a communication falling within one of the several safe harbors from the gun-jumping provisions.

Section 5(a) of

May062014

Say-On-Pay for Smaller Reporting Companies

Effective April 4, 2011, the SEC adopted final rules implementing shareholder advisory votes on executive compensation as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”).  Upon enactment smaller reporting companies were given a two-year exemption from the compliance requirements.  Smaller reporting companies are defined as entities which, as of the last business day of their second fiscal quarter, have a public float of less than $75 million.  Beginning in 2013, that exemption expired and now these smaller reporting companies are required to include say-on-pay voting.  Although smaller reporting companies have been subject to the rules for a year now, I still encounter questions from the entities as to their obligations and requirements under the rules.

The say-on-pay rules were implemented by adding Section 14A, which requires companies to conduct a separate shareholder advisory vote to approve the compensation of executives, which pay is disclosed pursuant to Item 402 (the “say-on-pay” vote).

Mar112014

Crowdfunding Using Intrastate Offerings and Rule 147 – Is Florida Next?

As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 23, 2013, the SEC published proposed crowdfunding rules.  The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” The entire 584-page text of the rule release is available on the SEC website. The proposed rules invite public comment on many points and have indeed resulted in such comments.  As of today, it is unclear when final rules will be released and passed into law and what changes those final rules will have from the proposed rules.  Moreover, upon passage of the final rules, there will be a period of ramping up time in which crowdfunding portals complete the process of registering with the SEC, becoming members of FINRA and completing the necessary steps to ensure that their portal operates in compliance with those final rules.  Federal crowdfunding it coming, but it is a slow process.

In the meantime, many states have recently either enacted or introduced state-specific crowdfunding

Feb252014

SEC Proposes Rules for Regulation A+

On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, commonly referred to as Regulation A+.  The proposed rules both add the new Section 3(b)(2) (i.e., Regulation A+) provisions and modify the existing Regulation A.  This blog is limited to a discussion of the new Regulation A+.

Background

Title IV of the JOBS Act technically amends Section 3(b) of the Securities Act, which up to now has been a general provision allowing the SEC to fashion exemptions from registration, up to a total offering amount of $5,000,000.  Regulation A is and has historically been an exemption created under the powers afforded the SEC by Section 3(b).

Technically speaking, Regulation D, Rule 504 and 505 offerings and Regulation A offerings are promulgated under Section 3(b), and Rule 506 is promulgated under Section 4(a)(2).  This is important because federal law does not pre-empt state law for Section 3(b) offerings, but it does so for Section

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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