Category: OTC Markets

OTC Markets: OTC Markets divide issuers into three (3) levels of quotation marketplaces: OTCQX, OTCQB and OTC Pink. The OTC Pink, which involves the highest-risk, highly speculative securities, is further divided into three tiers: Current Information, Limited Information and No Information. This page provides a summary of the listing requirements for each level of quotation on OTC Markets…

Jul072015

OTC Markets Amends Listing Standards For OTCQB To Include Regulation A+ Issuers

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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OTC Markets has unveiled changes to the quotations rule and standards for the OTCQB, which changes become effective July 10, 2015.  The OTC Markets rule amendments will allow a company to use its required Regulation A+ ongoing reporting requirements to satisfy the initial and ongoing OTCQB disclosure requirements.

Concurrently with this substantive amendment, OTCQB has made clarifying general amendments to its listing standards for all listed and prospective OTCQB companies.  OTC Markets has invited comments on the proposed changes. 

To summarize, the Regulation A related amendment to the OTCQB rules and regulations includes:

  • The addition of definitions for “Regulation A” and “Regulation A Reporting Company”
  • Initial Disclosure Obligations – a Regulation A Reporting Company can meet the OTCQB initial disclosure obligations by having filed all required reports on EDGAR, including annual audited financial statements;
  • OTCQB Certification – clarifying amendment to the OTCQB Certification including that a Regulation A Reporting Company is required to
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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

Mar032015

SEC Suspends Trading On 128 OTC Markets Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On March 2, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended the trading in 128 dormant shell companies trading on the OTC Link.  The SEC suspended the trading in these shell companies because of questions regarding the accuracy and adequacy of publicly disseminated information concerning the companies’ operating status, if any.

The SEC notes in its release that OTC Markets had been unable to contact each of the issuers for more than one year.  None of the subject issuers had filed any information or updated with either OTC Markets or the SEC in over a year.   The SEC staff then independently attempted to contact the issuers and was able to contact 10 of the 128 companies and confirm from those ten that they had either ceased operations or gone private.

The trading suspensions are part of an SEC initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group.  As part of the

Feb102015

OTC Markets Quotation Levels, Listing Requirements, and Comprehensive Pubco Criteria

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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OTC Markets divide issuers into three (3) levels of quotation marketplaces: OTCQX, OTCQB and OTC Pink.  The OTC Pink, which involves the highest-risk, highly speculative securities, is further divided into three tiers: Current Information, Limited Information and No Information.   This page provides a summary of the listing requirements for each level of quotation on OTC Markets.

OTCQX

The OTCQX divides its listing criteria between U.S. companies and International companies, though they are very similar.  The OTCQX has two tiers of quotation for U.S. companies: (i) OTCQX U.S. Premier (also eligible to quote on a national exchange); and (ii) OTCQX U.S. and two tiers for International companies: (i) OTCQX International Premier; and (ii) OTCQX International.  Quotation is available for American Depository Receipts (ADR’s) or foreign ordinary securities of companies traded on a Qualifying Foreign Stock Exchange, and an expedited application process is available for such companies.

Issuers on the OTCQX must meet specified eligibility

Oct282014

FINRA Seeks to Eliminate the OTCBB and Impose Regulations on the OTC Markets

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On October 7, 2014, the SEC published a release instituting proceedings to determine whether to approve FINRA’s request to delete the rules related to, and the operations of, the OTC Bulletin Board quotation service.  On June 27, 2014, FINRA quietly filed a proposed rule change with the SEC seeking to adopt rules relating to the quotation requirements for OTC equity services and to delete the rules relating to the OTCBB and thus cease its operations.  Although the rule filing was published in the Federal Register, it garnered no attention in the small cap marketplace.  Only one comment letter, from OTC Market Group, Inc. (“OTC Markets”) (i.e., the entity that owns and operates the inter-dealer quotation system known by its OTC Pink, OTCQB and OTCQX quotation tiers) was submitted in response to the filing.

The OTCBB has become increasingly irrelevant in the OTC marketplace for years.  In October 2010, I wrote a blog titled

Sep302014

The ECOS Matter; When Is A Reverse Split Effective?

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In what was presumably an unintended consequence, the application of an SEC- approved FINRA regulation has resulted in a conflict between state and federal corporate law for a small publicly traded company.

On September 16, 2014, Ecolocap Solutions, Inc. (“ECOS”) filed a Form 8-K in which it disclosed that FINRA had refused to process its 1-for-2,000 reverse split.  At the time of the FINRA refusal, ECOS had already received board and shareholder approval and had filed the necessary amended articles with the State of Nevada, legally effectuating the reverse split in accordance with state law.  Moreover, ECOS is subject to the reporting requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”), and had filed a preliminary and then definitive 14C information statement with the SEC, reporting the shareholder approval of the split.

The ECOS 8-K attached a copy of the FINRA denial letter, which can be viewed HERE

Sep082014

OTCQX Listing and Quotation Eligibility and Requirements for International Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On May 23, 2014, OTC Markets Group, Inc., published its updated OTCQX Rules for International Companies version 6.7.  This blog summarizes those rules.  A complete copy of the rules is available on the OTC Link website, otcmarkets.com.

Background

The www.otcmarkets.com divides issuers into three (3) levels: OTCQX, OTCQB and OTC Pink.

The OTCQX has two tiers of quotation for U.S. companies: (i) OTCQX International Premier; and (ii) OTCQX International.  International issuers on the OTCQX must meet specified eligibility requirements.  Quotation is available for American Depository Receipts (ADR’s) or foreign ordinary securities of companies traded on a Qualifying Foreign Stock Exchange.

International issuers on the OTCQB must either be fully reporting and current in their SEC reporting obligations or qualify for the Rule 12g3-2(b) exemption from SEC registration for foreign private issuers.  In addition, OTCQB entities must meet minimum price standards, file annual reports and pay annual fees, but do not undergo additional quality

Jul292014

Direct Public Offerings by Shell Companies- Tread Carefully

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As I’ve written about previously, recently (albeit not officially) the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has materially altered its position on offerings by shell companies that are not blank check companies.  In particular, over the past year, numerous shell companies that are not also blank check companies have completed direct public offerings using a S-1 registration statement and successfully obtained market maker support and a ticker symbol from FINRA and are trading.

Rule 419 and Blank Check Companies

The provisions of Rule 419 apply to every registration statement filed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, by a blank check company.  Rule 419 requires that the

Jul222014

Completing A Name Change Without Shareholder Approval

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Generally a name change is completed through an amendment to a company’s articles of incorporation.  Moreover, amendments to articles of incorporation generally require shareholder consent, which can be time-consuming and expensive and become even more so if the company is subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

All companies with securities registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, (i.e., through the filing of a Form 10 or Form 8-A) are subject to the Exchange Act proxy requirements found in Section 14 and the rules promulgated thereunder.  The proxy rules govern the disclosure in materials used to solicit shareholders’ votes in annual or special meetings held for the approval of any corporate action requiring shareholder approval.  The information contained in proxy materials must be filed with the SEC in advance of any solicitation to ensure compliance with the disclosure

Apr222014

OTCQX Listing and Quotation Eligibility and Requirements for U.S. Companies

On February 13, 2014, OTC Markets Group, Inc., published its OTCQX Rules For U.S. Companies version 6.5.  This blog summarizes those rules.  A complete copy of the rules are available on the OTC Link website, otcmarkets.com.

Background

The www.otcmarkets.com divides issuers into three (3) levels: OTCQX, OTCQB and OTC Pink.

The OTCQX has two tiers of quotation for U.S. companies: (i) OTCQX U.S. Premier (also eligible to quote on a national exchange); and (ii) OTCQX U.S. issuers on the OTCQX must meet specified eligibility requirements, which interestingly do not include a requirement as to being subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) for OTCQX U.S.  Moreover, OTC Markets has the discretionary authority to allow quotation to substantially capitalized acquisition entities that are analogous to SPAC’s.

Issuers on the OTCQB must be fully reporting and current in their SEC reporting obligations, meet minimum price standards, file annual reports and pay annual fees, but do