Category: Rule 144

Rule 144: The Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) Rule 144 sets forth certain requirements for the use of Section 4(1) for the resale of securities. Section 4(1) of the Securities Act provides an exemption for a transaction “by a person other than an issuer, underwriter, or dealer.” The terms “Issuer” and “dealer” have pretty straightforward meanings under the Securities Act, but the term “underwriter” does not. Rule 144 provides a safe harbor from the definition of “underwriter.” If all the requirements for Rule 144 are met, the seller will not be deemed an underwriter and the purchaser will receive unrestricted securities…

May232017

Recommendations Of SEC Government-Business Forum On Small Business Capital Formation

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In early April, the SEC Office of Small Business Policy published the 2016 Final Report on the SEC Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation, a forum I had the honor of attending and participating in. As required by the Small Business Investment Incentive Act of 1980, each year the SEC holds a forum focused on small business capital formation. The goal of the forum is to develop recommendations for government and private action to eliminate or reduce impediments to small business capital formation.

The forum is taken seriously by the SEC and its participants, including the NASAA, and leading small business and professional organizations. The forum began with short speeches by each of the SEC commissioners and a panel discussion, following which attendees, including myself, worked in breakout sessions to drill down on specific issues and suggest changes to rules and regulations to help support small business capital formation, as well

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

Nov012016

SEC Issues New C&DI On Rule 701

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On June 23, 2016, the SEC issued seven new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“C&DI”) related to Rule 701 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). On October 19, 2016, the SEC issued an additional three C&DI. The majority of the new C&DI focus on the effect on Rule 701 issuances following a merger or acquisition and clarify financial statement requirements under Rule 701. Two of the new C&DI address restricted stock awards including the disclosure requirements are triggered and when the holding period begins under Rule 144.

Rule 701 – Exemption for Offers and Sales to Employees of Non-Reporting Entities

Rule 701 of the Securities Act provides an exemption from the registration requirements for the issuance of securities under written compensatory benefit plans. Rule 701 is a specialized exemption for private or non-reporting entities and may not be relied upon by companies that are subject to the reporting requirements of

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

Mar152016

House Passes More Securities Legislation

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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In what must be the most active period of securities legislation in recent history, the US House of Representatives has passed three more bills that would make changes to the federal securities laws. The three bills, which have not been passed into law as of yet, come in the wake of the Fixing American’s Surface Transportation Act (the “FAST Act”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2015.

The 3 bills include: (i) H.R. 1675 – the Capital Markets Improvement Act of 2016, which has 5 smaller acts imbedded therein; (ii) H.R. 3784, establishing the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation and Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee within the SEC; and (iii) H.R. 2187, proposing an amendment to the definition of accredited investor. None of the bills have been passed by the Senate as of yet.

Meanwhile, the SEC continues to finalize rulemaking under both the JOBS Act, which

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

Jun302015

Going Public Transactions For Smaller Companies: Direct Public Offering And Reverse Merger

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Introduction

One of the largest areas of my firms practice involves going public transactions.  I have written extensively on the various going public methods, including IPO/DPOs and reverse mergers.  The topic never loses relevancy, and those considering a transaction always ask about the differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, both reverse mergers and direct and initial public offerings.  This blog is an updated new edition of past articles on the topic.

Over the past decade the small-cap reverse merger, initial public offering (IPO) and direct public offering (DPO) markets diminished greatly.  The decline was a result of both regulatory changes and economic changes.  In particular, briefly, those reasons were:  (1) the recent Great Recession; (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

Jun232015

The Section 4(a)(1) And 4(a)(1½) Exemption; Recommendations For An Amendment To Rule 144 Related To Shell Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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What are the Section 4(a)(1) and Section 4(a)(1½) exemptions, and how do they work?

Section 4(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) provides an exemption for a transaction “by a person other than an issuer, underwriter, or dealer.”  Rule 144 provides a non-exclusive safe harbor for the sale of securities under Section 4(a)(1). In the event that Rule 144 is unavailable, a holder of securities may still rely upon Section 4(a)(1).  Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act provides an exemption for sales by the issuer not involving a public offering.  The issuer itself may not rely on Section 4(a)(1), and selling security holders may not rely on Section 4(a)(2).

Case law and the SEC unilaterally conclude that an affiliate (officer, director or greater than 10% shareholder) of the issuer may not rely on Section 4(a)(1) for the resale of securities.  In particular, an affiliate is presumptively deemed an underwriter unless such

Dec302014

First Issuer Completes NASAA Coordinated Review For Regulation A Offering

 ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The first issuer has completed the NASAA coordinated review process to qualify to sell securities in multiple states under Regulation A.  As the first and only issuer to complete this process, the issuer (Groundfloor Finance, Inc.) took the time to write a comment letter to the SEC with respect to its Regulation A+ rulemaking and in particular to discuss its experience with the NASAA coordinated review process.  The issuer’s comment letter was followed by a letter to SEC Chair Mary Jo White from the House Financial Services Committee requesting that the SEC study the NASAA Coordinated Review Program.

 The Coordinated Review Process 

The NASAA coordinated review process is well put together and seems to have a focus on both investor protection and supportive assistance for the issuer.  An issuer elects to complete the coordinated review process by completing a Form CR-3b and submitting the application together with a copy of the completed Form

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