Category: Regulation S-K

Regulation S-K: On March 6, 2015, the Federal Regulation of Securities Committee (“Committee”) of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) submitted its second comment letter to the SEC making recommendations for changes to Regulation S-K…

May172016

SEC Issues Concept Release On Regulation S-K; Part 2

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On April 15, 2016, the SEC issued a 341-page concept release and request for public comment on sweeping changes to certain business and financial disclosure requirements in Regulation S-K (“S-K Concept Release”).  This blog is the second part discussing that concept release.  In Part I, which can be read HERE, I discussed the background and general concepts for which the SEC provides discussion and seeks comment.  In this Part II, I will discuss the rules and recommendations made by the SEC and, in particular, those related to the 100, 200, 300, 500 and 700 series of Regulation S-K.

Background

The fundamental tenet of the federal securities laws is defined by one word: disclosure.  In fact, the SEC neither reviews nor opines on the merits of any company or transaction, but only upon the appropriate disclosure, including risks, made by that company.  However, excessive rote immaterial disclosure can dilute the material important information

May032016

SEC Issues Concept Release On Regulation S-K; Part 1

On April 15, 2016, the SEC issued a 341-page concept release and request for public comment on sweeping changes to certain business and financial disclosure requirements in Regulation S-K (“S-K Concept Release”).  This blog is the first part in a series discussing that concept release.  The S-K Concept Release is part of the SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative mandated by the JOBS Act.

The fundamental tenet of the federal securities laws is defined by one word: disclosure.  In fact, the SEC neither reviews nor opines on the merits of any company or transaction, but only upon the appropriate disclosure, including risks, made by that company.

This is the first blog in a two-part series on the S-K Concept Release.  In this Part I, I will discuss the background and general concepts for which the SEC provides discussion and seeks comment.  In Part II of the series I will discuss the rules and recommendations made by the SEC and, in particular, those

Mar292016

Responding To SEC Comments

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Background

The SEC Division of Corporation Finance (CorpFin) reviews and comments upon filings made under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”). The purpose of a review by CorpFin is to ensure compliance with the disclosure requirements under the federal securities laws, including Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X, and to enhance such disclosures as to each particular issuer. CorpFin will also be cognizant of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws and may refer a matter to the Division of Enforcement where material concerns arise over the adequacy and accuracy of reported information or other securities law violations, including violations of the Section 5 registration requirements. CorpFin has an Office of Enforcement Liason in that regard.

CorpFin’s review and responsibilities can be described with one word: disclosure!

CorpFin selectively reviews filings, although generally all first-time filings, such as an S-1 for an initial

Mar082016

SEC Gives Insight On 2016 Initiatives

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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SEC Chair Mary Jo White gave a speech at the annual mid-February SEC Speaks program and, as usual, gave some insight into the SEC’s focus in the coming year.  This blog summarized Chair White’s speech and provides further insight and information on the topics she addresses.

Consistent with her prior messages, Chair White focuses on enforcement, stating that the SEC “needs to go beyond disclosure” in carrying out its mission.  That mission, as articulated by Chair White, is the protection of investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation.  In 2015 the SEC brought a record number of enforcement proceedings and secured an all-time high for penalty and disgorgement orders.  The primary areas of focus included cybersecurity, market structure requirements, dark pools, microcap fraud, financial reporting failures, insider trading, disclosure deficiencies in municipal offerings and protection of retail investors and retiree savings.  In 2016 the SEC intends to focus enforcement

Feb162016

SEC’s Financial Disclosure Requirements For Sub-Entities Of Registered Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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As required by the JOBS Act, in 2013 the SEC launched its Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative and has been examining disclosure requirements under Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X and methods to improve such requirements. In September 2015, the SEC issued a request for comment related to the Regulation S-X financial disclosure obligations for certain entities other than the reporting entity. In particular, the SEC is seeking comments on the current financial disclosure requirements for acquired businesses, subsidiaries not consolidated, 50% or less owned entities, issuers of guaranteed securities, and affiliates whose securities collateralize the reporting company’s securities.

It is important to note that the SEC release relates to general financial statement and reporting requirements, and not the modified reporting requirements for smaller reporting companies or emerging growth companies. In particular, Article 8 of Regulation S-X applies to smaller reporting companies and Article 3 to those that do not qualify for the reduced Article 8

Oct272015

SEC Small Business Advisory Committee Public Company Disclosure Recommendations

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On September 23, 2015, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) met and finalized its recommendation to the SEC regarding changes to the disclosure requirements for smaller publicly traded companies.    

By way of reminder, the Committee was organized by the SEC to provide advice on SEC rules, regulations and policies regarding “its mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitating capital formation” as related to “(i) capital raising by emerging privately held small businesses and publicly traded companies with less than $250 million in public market capitalization; (ii) trading in the securities of such businesses and companies; and (iii) public reporting and corporate governance requirements to which such businesses and companies are subject.”

The topic of disclosure requirements for smaller public companies under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) has come to the forefront over the past year.  In early December

Jun012015

ABA Federal Regulation Of Securities Committee Makes Recommendations On Regulation S-K

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On March 6, 2015, the Federal Regulation of Securities Committee (“Committee”) of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) submitted its second comment letter to the SEC making recommendations for changes to Regulation S-K.  The Committee’s recommendations are aimed at improving the quality of business and financial information that must be disclosed in periodic reports and registration statements in accordance with Regulation S-K.  I note that I am a member of the Committee, but not a member of the sub-committee that drafted the comment letter, nor did I have any input in regard to the comment letter.

The recommendations fall into four major categories: materiality; duplication; consolidation of existing interpretive and other guidance from the SEC; and obsolescence.  The recommendations in the letter are based on themes articulated by the Division of Corporation Finance in a 2013 report to Congress mandated by the JOBS Act and subsequent speeches by the Division’s Director, Keith F.

Dec232014

Will the Disclosure Modernization and Simplification Act of 2014 Simplify Reporting Requirements for ECG’s and Smaller Reporting Companies?

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In early December the House passed the Disclosure Modernization and Simplification Act of 2014, which will now go to the Senate for action—or inaction, as the case may be.

The bill joins a string of legislative and political pressure on the SEC to review and modernize Regulation S-K to eliminate burdensome, unnecessary disclosure with the dual purpose of reducing the costs to the disclosing issuer and ensure readable, material information for the investing public.

The Disclosure Modernization and Simplification Act of 2014, if passed, would require the SEC to adopt or amend rules to: (i) allow issuers to include a summary page to Form 10-K; and (ii) scale or eliminate duplicative, antiquated or unnecessary requirements in Regulation S-K.  In addition, the SEC would be required to conduct yet another study on all Regulation S-K disclosure requirements to determine how best to amend and modernize the rules to reduce costs and burdens while

Nov182014

Risk Factor Disclosures For Reporting Public Companies 

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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 A risk factor disclosure involves a discussion of circumstances, trends, or issues that may affect a company’s business, prospects, operating results, or financial condition.  Risk factors must be disclosed in registration statements under the Securities Act and registration statements and reports under the Exchange Act.  In addition, risk factors must be included in private offering documents where the exemption relied upon requires the delivery of a disclosure document, and is highly recommended even when such disclosure is not statutorily required.

The Importance of Risk Factors

Risk factors are one of the most often commented on sections of a registration statement.  The careful crafting of pertinent risk factors can provide leeway for more robust discussion on business plans and future operations, and can satisfy a wide arrange of SEC concerns regarding existing financial and non-financial matters (such as potential default provisions in debt, dilution matters, inadvertent rule violations, etc.).

Although smaller reporting companies are

Sep022014

Public Company and Affiliate Stock Buyback Rules; Rule 10b-18

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The SEC allows for limited methods that an issuer can utilize to show confidence in its own stock and assist in maintaining or increasing its stock price.  One of those methods is Rule 10b-18 promulgated under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”).  Exchange Act Rule 10b-18 provides issuers with a non-exclusive safe harbor from liability for market manipulation under Sections 9(a)(2) and 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 under the Exchange Act when issuers bid for or repurchase their common stock in the open market in accordance with the Rule’s manner, timing, price and volume conditions.  Each of the four main conditions of Rule 10b-18 must be satisfied on each day that a repurchase is made.

Sections 9 and 10 of the Exchange Act are the general anti-fraud and anti-manipulation provisions under the Act.  Section 9(a)(2) of the Exchange Act makes it unlawful for any person to, directly or indirectly, create