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…

Aug232012

The OTCBB – Nearly Extinct, OTCQB is the Micro-Cap Reporting Standard

For the past two years it had appeared that the OTCBB had been replaced by the OTC Link run OTCQB and the OTCQX. For all intents and purposes since the fall of 2010, the industry-wide proliferation of the OTCQB and OTCQX has marginalized the OTCBB to the brink of extinction. It is has now become incredibly apparent that the OTCQB is the new micro-cap reporting standard.

Background

Over the past few years the historical “Pink Sheets” and its online presence has undergone some considerable changes, starting with the creation of several well-defined “tiers” of issuers and culminating in a completely refurbished website and a new URL – www.otcmarkets.com; and new name for the Inter-dealer quotation system – the OTC Link.  The OTC Link divides issuers into three levels: OTCQX; OTCQB and Pink Sheets.  Quotation on both the OTCQB and OTCQX requires that the Issuer be subject to and current with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act

Jun192012

SEC Grants Accelerated Approval to FINRA Rule Amendment Regarding Minimum Quotation Size Requirements for OTC Equity Securities

On June 15, 2012, the SEC granted accelerated approval to an amendment to FINRA rule 6433 related to the minimum quotation size for OTC equity securities.  Rule 6433 applies to all market makers.  Rule 6433 sets forth the specific minimum quotation size requirements in tiers that are based on the price of the OTC equity security being quoted by the market maker.  In addition, the rule change will require market makers to publish customer limit orders.

The new rule amends and lowers the current 9 tier quotation size requirements to 6 tiers as follows:

  • $175.00 per share and above, the minimum quotation size would be 1 share;
  • $1.00 through $174.99 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 100 shares;
  • $0.51 through $0.9999 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 1,000 shares;
  • $0.20 through $0.5099 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 2,500 shares;
  • $0.10 through $0.1999 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 5,000 shares;
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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

Dec162011

Private Capital Market Places – A Second Look

Last week I wrote a blog introducing, at least to me, Private Company Market Places (PCMP).  A PCMP is a trading platform, such as SharePost or SecondMarket that provides a market place for illiquid restricted securities, such as private company securities, 144 stock, debt instruments, warrants, and the like or alternative assets.  It is on a PCMP that Facebook’s shares currently trade and where pre-IPO Groupon and LInkedin received their trading start.

This week I reviewed some of the top PCMP players, including Gate Technologies, SecondMarket, Sharespost and Xpert Financial.  I have no affiliation, have never worked with and maintain no accounts with any of these PCMPs.

PCMP’s are Broker Dealers or Affiliated

Each PCMP is a licensed broker dealer or affiliated with a licensed broker dealer, that has either created or licensed an electronic trading board, available at their respective websites, which allows investors to view, buy, and sell otherwise illiquid, restricted or alternative assets.  These securities are

Dec092011

Private Capital Marketplace – A First Look

As I discussed in a recent blog, the attraction of the small cap and reverse merger market has diminished greatly in the past two years.  The Over the Counter market has become an expensive place to conduct business; the antithesis of the very reason small companies sought to list there to begin with. Accessing capital markets for microcap companies is not as simple as it once was.

In addition to the added expensive of complying with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 disclosure requirements, the marketplace invites speculators who short sell (bet that the price of a stock will go down) and hedge with derivatives, often creating unpredictable volatility and share prices not indicative of the underlying value of the actual business.

No Automatic Liquidity for Issuers

Being public is no guarantee of liquidity either. It’s fantastic for an issuer to state that their stock is being quoted at $5.00 per share, but if there is no volume (the shares

Nov032011

DTC Eligibility and the OTC Issuer (Part 3)

This is the third 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 Pink Sheets.  All technical information in this article comes from the DTC website.

DTC Eligibility

As detailed in my first two articles in this series, in order to become and remain DTC eligible, and Issuer must have a transfer agent that has completed and has on file with DTC a DTC Operational Arrangements Agent Letter.  In addition, all Issuers must meet the requirements set forth in the DTC Operational Arrangements (OA).  This article begins to discuss the OA necessary for an Issue to become and remain eligible for DTC service.  Moreover, the OA rules relate to and regard all Issuers.  This article will only discuss those rules and requirements for OTC Issuers.

The DTC OA states:

“Generally,

Oct102011

DTC Eligibility and the OTC Issuer (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of articles 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 Pink Sheets. All technical information in this blog comes from the DTC website.

DTC Requirements for Eligibility

As discussed in my first article on this topic, Issuers, a sponsoring DTC Participant Member must make application to become DTC eligible.  The DTC Operational Arrangements criteria (available on the DTC website) set forth in-depth requirements for eligibility, which will be discussed in a separate articles in this series on DTC eligibility.  In addition to the Operational Arrangements, in order to be DTC eligible, an Issuer’s securities must:

(i)            be issued in a transaction registered with the SEC under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”);

(ii)        be issued in a transaction exempt from registration under the Securities Act and

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

Jun172011

SEC Approves BX Venture Market

The SEC has recently approved the NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.’s application to form the BX Venture Market (“BX Market”) as an alternative quotation medium to the OTCBB and OTC Markets, Inc. (including PinkSheets, OTCQB and OTCQX).  The new BX Market will provide companies that do not otherwise qualify for an exchange listing, an opportunity to list their shares.  The BX Market will compete with the OTCBB and the OTC Markets OTCQB and OTCQX (interestingly and as an aside, NASDAQ sold the OTCBB last year to a private buyer).  The SEC has issued an in-depth order approving the application.

The OTCBB, OTCQB and OTCQX Alternative

The BX Market is marketing itself as a more transparent, better regulated, listing alternative to both the OTCBB and OTCQB and OTCQX.  Presumably this means that companies trading on the BX Market would appear to have greater credibility than those on the OTCBB or OTCQB/QX.  The BX Market will be run through joint ventures with NASDAQ

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