Category: Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE)

Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE): A PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) transaction is typically a private placement of equity or equity-linked securities by a public company to accredited investors that is followed by the registration of the resale of those securities with the SEC…

Dec132016

SEC Cracks Down On Failure To File 8-K For Financing Activities; An Overview Of Form 8-K

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Introduction and Background

On September 26, 2016, and again on the 27th, the SEC brought enforcement actions against issuers for the failure to file 8-K’s associated with corporate finance transactions and in particular PIPE transactions involving the issuance of convertible debt, preferred equity, warrants and similar instruments. Prior to the release of these two actions, I have been hearing rumors in the industry that the SEC has issued “hundreds” of subpoenas (likely an exaggeration) to issuers related to PIPE transactions and in particular to determine 8-K filing deficiencies. Using this as a backdrop, this blog will also address Form 8-K filing requirements in general.

Back in August 2014, the SEC did a similar sweep related to 8-K filing failures associated with 3(a)(10) transactions. See my blog HERE for a discussion of those actions and 3(a)(10) proceedings in general. The 8-K filing deficiency actions were a precursor to a larger SEC investigation on 3(a)(10)

Feb092016

SEC Study On Unregistered Offerings

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In October 2015, the SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis issued a white paper study on unregistered securities offerings from 2009 through 2014 (the “Report”). The Report provides insight into what is working in the private placement market and has been on my radar as a blog since its release, but with so many pressing, timely topics to write about, I am only now getting to this one. The SEC Report is only through 2014; however, at the end of this blog, I have provided supplemental information from another source related to PIPE (private placements into public equity) transactions in 2015.

Private offerings are the largest segment of capital formation in the U.S. markets. In 2014 private offerings raised more than $2 trillion. The SEC study used information collected from Form D filings to provide insight into the offering characteristics, including types of issuers, investors and financial intermediaries that participate in offerings.

Jun162015

SEC Has Approved A Two-Year Tick Size Pilot Program For Smaller Public Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On May 6, 2015 the SEC approved a two-year pilot program with FINRA and the national securities exchanges that will widen the minimum quoting and trading increments, commonly referred to as tick sizes, for the stocks of smaller public companies.  The goal of the program is to study whether wider tick sizes improve the market quality and trading of these stocks. 

The basic premise is that if a tick size is wider, the spread will be bigger, and thus market makers and underwriters will have the ability to earn a larger profit on trading.  If market makers and underwriters can earn larger profits on trading, they will have incentive to make markets, support liquidity and issue research on smaller public companies.  The other side of the coin is that larger spreads and more profit for the traders equates to increased costs to the investors whose accounts are being traded. 

The tick size program

Jan212014

Direct Public Offering or Reverse Merger; Know Your Best Option for Going Public

Introduction

For at least the last twelve months, I have received calls daily from companies wanting to go public.  This interest in going public transactions signifies a big change from the few years prior.

Beginning in 2009, the small-cap and reverse merger, initial public offering (IPO) and direct public offering (DPO) markets diminished greatly.  I can identify at least seven main reasons for the downfall of the going public transactions.  Briefly, those reasons are:  (1) the general state of the economy, plainly stated, was not good; (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 and former shell company shareholders; (4) problems clearing penny stock with broker dealers and FINRA’s enforcement of broker-dealer and clearing house due diligence requirements related to penny stocks; (5) DTC scrutiny and difficulty in obtaining clearance following

Aug132013

SEC Updates May Benefit Equity Line Financing Providers and Issuers

On May 16, 2013, the SEC updated their Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations addressing the point at which an equity line agreement can be determined to be a completed transaction for purposes of filing a resale registration statement. 

Background

Equity line financings are transactions where a company has a long-term contract to put shares to an investor (the equity line provider) at a price, generally determined by a formula based on a discount to market price.  That is, the Issuer has the right to tell the investor when to buy securities from the Issuer over a set period of time and the investor has no right to decline to purchase the securities (or a limited right to decline).  Generally, the dollar value of the

May292013

The OTCQX And OTCQB Are Finally Recognized As “Established Public Markets” By The SEC

Back in October 2010 I wrote a blog titled “Has the OTCBB been replaced by the OTCQX and OTCQB”; at the time and up until May 16, 2013, my opinion was “yes” with one big caveat.  Prior to May 16, 2013, all three tiers of the OTC Link were considered “pinksheets” by the SEC staff.  Prior to May 16, 2013, the OTC Link was not considered a market and therefore: (1) there could be no at-the-market pricing of securities registered for resale by an Issuer on behalf of its selling shareholders; and (2) there could be no equity lines or similar financing transactions and no registration of underlying convertible equities which are priced based on a formula tied to the trading price (usually a discount to market), for OTC Link quoted securities.

On May 16, 2013, the SEC updated their Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations confirming that the OTCQB and OTCQX marketplaces are now considered public marketplaces for purposes of establishing

Jul242012

Q2 By The Numbers – An Analysis of Market

First, I’d like to give credit to The DealFlow Report which was my initial source for the numerical factual information in this blog.

 

The Numbers and Facts

Q2 reflects the uncertainty that goes along with an election year and the concerns over tax increases (or decreases) that go along with election years.  There also remains the ongoing worry over European markets.  In short, it is a time of change and uncertainty.  Moreover, according to Adam Lyon, a managing director and co-head of private capital at Conaccord Genuity, the small cap financing market, “is probably in for the usual seasonal fluctuations: a tough summer followed by a pick-up in late August and September.”  I note that my law firm has seen this trend consistently for the past decade.

According to data from Dealogic, the number of IPO’s dropped by 41.4% in Q2, however, mainly as a result of the facebook IPO, the dollar value of those IPO’s rose by 56.4%. 

Aug102011

Convertible Promissory Notes; Flexible Financing Options

I have explored the topic of promissory notes in previous articles. This analysis shall specifically concentrate on convertible promissory notes.

As a reminder, a promissory note is a written promise by a person, persons or entity to pay a specific amount of money (called “principal”) to another, usually to include a specified amount of interest on the unpaid principal amount.  In addition, a promissory note will include the basic specifics of the debt, including the debtor and creditor, when payment or payments are due, interest rates, if the debt is secured, and whether the debt may be converted into stock or other equity.  A promissory note that may be converted is often referred to as either a debenture or a convertible promissory note.

Notes Can Be Sold or Assigned

Unless specifically prohibited in the language of the note, a promissory note is assignable by the lender.  That is, the lender can sell or assign the note to a third party

Jun182010

PIPE Transactions, Terms and Requirements

A PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) transaction is typically a private placement of equity or equity-linked securities by a public company to accredited investors that is followed by the registration of the resale of those securities with the SEC. Generally the securities are sold at a discount to market price. A traditional PIPE generally involves a fixed number of securities at a fixed price, with the closing conditioned only on the effectiveness of a resale registration statement. Any transaction that does not fall within this parameter is considered non-traditional and the structure can vary widely, including for example price variables (such as a death spiral), warrants and options, convertible securities and equity line transactions.

Traditional PIPE Transactions

In particular, a traditional PIPE is generally a set number of securities at a set price (which may be a discount to market at the time of close) and is conditioned only upon the effectiveness of a re-sale registration statement. A traditional

Jan162010

Equity Line Financing Examined

In a typical “equity line” financing arrangement, an investor and an Issuer enter into a written agreement whereby the Issuer has the right to “put” its securities to the investor. That is, the Issuer has the right to tell the investor when to buy securities from the Issuer over a set period of time and the investor has no right to decline to purchase the securities (or a limited right to decline). Generally the dollar value of the equity line is set in the written agreement, but the number of securities varies based on a formula tied to the market price of the securities at the time of each “put”.

Similar to PIPE Transactions

Most equity line financing arrangements are similar to a PIPE (private investment into public entity) transaction such that the Issuer relies on the private placement exemption from registration to sell the securities under the equity line and then files a registration statement for the re-sale of