Category: Public Shell Company

Public Shell Company: 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…

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

Mar182014

Guide to Reverse Merger Transaction

What is a reverse merger?  What is the process?

A reverse merger is the most common alternative to an initial public offering (IPO) or direct public offering (DPO) for a company seeking to go public.  A “reverse merger” allows a privately held company to go public by acquiring a controlling interest in, and merging with, a public operating or public shell company.  The SEC defines a “shell company” as a publically traded company with (1) no or nominal operations and (2) either no or nominal assets or assets consisting solely of any amount of cash and cash equivalents.

In a reverse merger process, the private operating company shareholders exchange their shares of the private company for either new or existing shares of the public company so that

Mar042014

Understanding Section 3(a)(9) Exchanges and Conversions as Related to Convertible Promissory Notes

As an attorney specializing in the representation of companies and investment funds in the micro, small and mid cap arena, we work on corporate financing transactions involving convertible debt almost daily.  These transactions provide a tremendous amount of benefit to these small cap companies, in that they obtain cash today that will be repaid with common stock tomorrow.  Financing using convertible instruments that are repaid with stock is one of the many reasons an entity may choose to go public.  However, the financing comes at a price including both dilution to existing stockholders and likely a reduced stock price resulting from the selling pressure when the debt is converted.  Of course, all financing has pros and cons and public entities need to consider

Feb042014

SEC Files Proceedings Against 19 S-1 Companies and Suspends Trading on 255 Shell Companies

A.  S-1 Proceedings

On February 3, 2014, the SEC initiated administrative proceedings against 19 companies that had filed S-1 registration statements.  The 19 registration statements were all filed with an approximate 2-month period around January 2013.  Each of the companies claimed to be an exploration-stage entity in the mining business without known reserves, and each claimed they had not yet begun actual mining.  The 19 entities used the same attorney, who is the subject of a separate SEC action filed in August 2013 alleging involvement in a pump-and-dump scheme.  Each of the entities was incorporated at around the same time using the same registered agent service.  The 19 S-1’s read substantially the same.

Importantly, each of the 19 S-1’s lists a separate officer, director and sole shareholder, and each claims that this person is the sole control person.  The SEC complains that contrary to the representations in the S-1, a separate single individual is the actual control person behind each

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

Oct012013

SEC has Modified Policies on Offerings by Shell Companies

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 offerings using an S-1 registration statement and successfully obtained market maker support and a ticker symbol from FINRA and are trading.  As recently as 18 months ago, this was not possible.

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 blank-check company filing such registration statement deposit the securities being offered and proceeds of the offering into

Jul022013

Section 3(a)(10) Debt Conversions in a Shell Company Pre-Reverse Merger

Section 3(a) (10) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”) is an exemption from the Securities Act registration requirements for the offers and sales of securities by Issuers.  The exemption provides that “Except with respect to a security exchanged in a case under title 11 of the United States Code, any security which is issued in exchange for one or more bona fide outstanding securities, claims or property interests, or partly in such exchange and partly for cash, where the terms and conditions of such issuance and exchange are approved, after a hearing upon the fairness of such terms and conditions at which all persons to whom it is proposed to issue securities in such exchange shall have the right to appear, by any court, or by any official or agency of the United States, or by any State or Territorial banking or insurance commission or other governmental authority expressly authorized by law to grant such

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

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

Nov112009

Rule 144 and Pink Sheet Shells; Selling Shares Post Merger

One of the most common inquiries received by securities attorneys today involves Issuers wanting to know when they and their shareholders can sell their shares on the open market following a merger with a Pink Sheet shell. In many cases, the answer they get is not the answer they want; twelve months after the Pink Sheet Company becomes a fully reporting entity.

If a private entity has merged with a Pink Sheet shell under the assumption that they can avoid the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting requirements, this revelation is devastating. As a result of the amendments to Rule 144 and Rule 145, enacted in February, 2009, private companies that wish to go public on the Pink Sheets are advised to do so directly, and not through a reverse merger with a shell company.

Rule 144

Technically Rule 144 provides a safe harbor from the definition of the term “underwriter” such that a selling shareholder may utilize the exemption