Category: OTCQB

OTCQB: 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…

Jun272017

OTC Markets Amends Listing Standards For OTCQB To Allow Non-Reporting Issuers

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Effective May 18, 2017, the OTC Markets has amended its qualification rules for the OTCQB to allow quotation by companies that follow its alternative reporting standard (“Alternative Reporting Standard”). OTC Markets aligned the new requirements with the existing OTCQX Alternative Reporting Standard requirements. In addition, the OTC Markets made clarifying amendments to its rules, amended the rules related to the timing of removal for delinquent filers, and revised the rules for international reporting companies.

Highlights of Changes

To qualify for the OTCQB using the Alternative Reporting Standard, a company must file audited financial statements prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP by a PCAOB qualified auditor, have a minimum bid price of $0.01, not be subject to bankruptcy or reorganization proceedings, and maintain corporate governance including (i) have a board of directors that includes a minimum of two independent directors, and (ii) have an audit committee comprised of a majority of independent directors.

Feb212017

SEC Issues White Paper On Penny Stock Risks

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 16, 2016, the SEC announced several new settled enforcement proceedings against market participants including issuers, attorneys and a transfer agent, related to penny stock fraud. On the same day the SEC issued a new white paper detailing the risks associated with investing in penny stocks. This blog summarizes the SEC white paper.

As I have written about on numerous occasions, the prevention of micro-cap fraud is and will always be a primary focus of the SEC and other securities regulators. In fact, the SEC will go to great lengths to investigate and ultimately prosecute micro-cap fraud. See my blog HERE regarding the recent somewhat scandalous case involving Guy Gentile.

Introduction

The SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis published a white paper on the risks and consequences of investing in stocks quoted in the micro-cap markets versus those listed on a national securities exchange. The paper reviewed 1.8 million trades by

Nov082016

Changes In India’s Laws Related To Foreign Direct Investments- A U.S. Opportunity; Brief Overview For Foreign Private Issuers

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In June 2016, the Indian government announced new rules allowing for foreign direct investments into Indian owned and domiciled companies. The new rules continue a trend in laws supporting India as an open world economy.  A large portion of the U.S. public marketplace is actually the trading of securities of foreign owned or held businesses. Foreign businesses may register and trade directly on U.S. public markets as foreign private issuers, or they may operate as partial or wholly owned subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies that in turn quote and trade on either the OTC Markets or a U.S. exchange.

Brief Overview for Foreign Private Issuers

                Definition of Foreign Private Issuer

Both the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) contain definitions of a “foreign private issuer.” Generally, if a company does not meet the definition of a foreign private issuer, it

Oct252016

Florida Broker-Dealer Registration Exemption For M&A Brokers

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Following the SEC’s lead, effective July 1, 2016, Florida has passed a statutory exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for entities effecting securities transactions in connection with the sale of equity control in private operating businesses (“M&A Broker”). As discussed further below, the new Florida statute, together with the SEC M&A Broker exemption, may have paved the way for Florida residents to act as an M&A broker in reverse or forward merger transactions involving OTCQX-traded public companies without broker-dealer registration.

Florida has historically had stringent broker-dealer registration requirements in connection with the offer and sale of securities. Moreover, Florida does not always mirror the federal registration requirements or exemptions. For example, see my blog HERE detailing some state blue sky concerns when dealing with Florida, including the lack of an issuer exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for public offerings.

However, in a move helpful to merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in the

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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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

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

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