Category: OTCQX

OTCQX: The OTCQX divides its listing criteria between U.S. companies and International companies, though they are very similar…

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

Aug162016

SEC Continues Efforts To Prevent Microcap Fraud

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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As I’ve written about numerous times in the past, a primary agenda of the SEC and FINRA is to prevent small- and micro-cap fraud. On March 23, 2016, the SEC charged Guy Gentile with penny stock fraud. The SEC complaint, as well as numerous industry articles and a blog by Mr. Gentile himself, reveal in-depth efforts by the SEC together with FINRA and the FBI and DOJ to remove recidivist and bad actors from the micro-cap system. While the methods used by the regulators have been the subject of heated debates and articles, the message and result remain that the SEC is committed to its efforts to deter securities law violations.

Although small- and micro-cap fraud has always been an important area of concern and enforcement by the SEC since the financial crisis of 2008, it has increasingly been a focus. Regulators have amplified their efforts through regulations and stronger enforcement, including the

Jun282016

OTC Markets Petitions The SEC To Expand Regulation A To Include SEC Reporting Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On June 6, OTC Markets filed a petition for rulemaking with the SEC requesting that the SEC amend Regulation A to expand the eligibility criteria to include all small issuers, including those that are subject to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) reporting requirements and to allow “at-the-market offerings.”

Background

On March 25, 2015, the SEC released final rules amending Regulation A. The new Regulation A creates two tiers of offerings.  Tier I of Regulation A, which does not preempt state law, allows offerings of up to $20 million in a twelve-month period.  Due to difficult blue sky compliance, Tier 1 is rarely used.  Tier 2, which does preempt state law, allows a raise of up to $50 million.  Issuers may elect to proceed under either Tier I or Tier 2 for offerings up to $20 million.  The new rules went into effect on June 19, 2015 and have been gaining

May312016

OTC Markets Amends IPO Listing Standards for OTCQX

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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OTC Markets has unveiled changes to the quotations rule and standards for the OTCQX, which proposed changes are scheduled to become effective on June 13, 2016.  The proposed amendments are intended to address and accommodate companies completing an IPO onto the OTCQX and which accordingly have no prior trading history.  Such entities either would have a recently cleared Form 211 with FINRA or are completing the 211 application process through a market maker, at the time of their OTCQX application.  The initial qualification changes apply to OTCQX Rules for U.S. Companies, U.S. Banks and International Companies.

The OTCQX previously amended its listing standards effective January 1, 2016 to increase the quantitative criteria for listing and to add additional qualitative requirements further aligning the OTCQX with a national stock exchange.  To read my blog on the January 1, 2016 amendments see HERE.

The new amendments will (i) allow companies that meet the $5

Dec292015

OTC Markets Amends Listing Standards For The OTCQX

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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OTC Markets has unveiled changes to the quotations rule and standards for the OTCQX, which changes become effective January 1, 2016. The amended listing standards increase the quantitative criteria for listing and add additional qualitative requirements continuing to align the OTCQX with standards associated with a national stock exchange. Companies already listed on the OTCQX as of December 31, 2015 will have until January 2017 to meet the new ongoing eligibility requirements.

As part of the rule changes, OTC Markets has renamed its U.S. Designated Advisor for Disclosure (DAD) to an OTCQX Advisor. All U.S. companies that are quoted on the OTCQX must have either an attorney or an Investment Bank OTCQX Advisor. A company may appoint a new OTCQX Advisor at any time, provided that the company retains an approved OTCQX Advisor at all times.

All International companies that are quoted on the OTCQX must have either an Attorney Principal American Liaison

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