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…

Jan082010

Overview of Recognized Exemptions From Section 5

The Securities Act of 1933 recognizes two broad types of exemptions to the registration requirements of Section 5, exempt securities and exempt transactions.

The Exempt securities are set forth in Sections 3(a)(1) – (8), (13) and (14) of the Securities Act. Exempt securities are continuously exempt from the registration requirements regardless of the nature of the transaction in which they may be offered, issued, sold or resold. Examples of exempt securities which may be publicly offered, issued, sold and resold by their issuers or any other person without registration include:

  • Securities issued or guaranteed by the federal government;
  • Any security issued or guaranteed by a bank;
  • Commercial paper with a maturity of nine months or less;
  • Securities issued by non-profit religious, educational or charitable organizations; and
  • Insurance contracts

Exempt Transactions

The exempt transactions are set forth in Sections 3(a)(9), 3(b) and Section 4 of the Securities Act. Exempt transactions allow a security to be offered or sold in a particular

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

Nov052009

SEC Rule 144: Pledged Securities, Holding Periods and Subscriptions Agreements

Securities which are bona fide pledged may be tacked to the holding period of the pledgor as long as the pledge has full recourse against the pledgor. Gifted securities may be tacked with the holding period of the donor. Securities transferred to a trust may be tacked with the holding period of the settlor. Likewise securities transferred to a 401(k) or other individual retirement account will tack to the original issuance date. Securities obtained by beneficiaries of an estate may be tacked with the holding period of the deceased.

Securities acquired solely by the cashless exercise of an option or warrant are deemed to have been issued on the date of issuance of the underlying option or warrant; provided however, that the payment of any consideration, even a de minimus amount of cash, for the newly issued securities will restart the holding period. Accordingly, securities issued upon exercise of options or warrants in a stock option plan are deemed issued

Nov042009

SEC Rule 144: Current Public Information and Reporting Requirements

The current public information requirement is measured at the time of each sale of securities. That is, the Issuer, whether reporting or non-reporting, must satisfy the current public information requirements as set forth in Rule 144(c) at the time that each resale of securities is made in reliance on Rule 144. Most attorney opinion letters and Forms 144 cover a three month period and many Sellers sell securities over that three month period. However, the Seller (or person selling on behalf of Seller such as the broker dealer) is required to make a determination that current public information is available at the time of each sale.

Accordingly, if a reporting issuer does not file a required Q or K during this period, or 15c2-11 information lapses for a non-reporting issuer, sales must cease until the current public information requirement is again satisfied. Moreover, Sellers are taking a risk by selling during the 5-day or 15-day period following the filing of

Nov032009

SEC Rule 144: Resale Conditions and Exempt Transactions

There are many questions regarding the application of Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) Rule 144 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.” Therefore, an understanding of the term “underwriter” is important in determining whether or not the Section 4(1) exemption from registration is available for the sale of the securities. 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.

As Rule 144 only addresses the resale of restricted securities, the rule first defines “restricted securities”. Restricted securities include: (i) securities acquired directly or indirectly from the Issuer, of from an affiliate of the Issuer (affiliate includes spouses and family members living in the same household), in a transaction or chain of transactions not

Oct282009

Five Essential Conditions for Unregistered Spin-Offs

A spin-off occurs when a parent company distributes shares of a subsidiary to the parent company’s shareholders such that the subsidiary separates from the parent and is no longer a subsidiary. In Staff Legal Bulletin No. 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) explains how and under what circumstances a spin-off can be completed without the necessity of filing a registration statement.

In particular, the subsidiary shares (the shares distributed to the parent company shareholders) do not need to be registered if the following five conditions are met: (i) the parent shareholders do not provide consideration for the spun-off shares; (ii) the spin-off is pro-rata to the parent shareholders; (iii) the parent provides adequate information about the spin-off and the subsidiary to its shareholders and to the trading markets; (iv) the parent has a valid business purpose for the spin-off; and (v) if the parent spins-off restricted securities, it has held those securities for at least one year. Below is

Oct062009

Examination of Rule 144 and Potential Interpretations

The SEC revised Rule 144, effective February 15, 2008. Section 144 rules are used to ascertain if a company falls into an exemption from registration, because of non-underwriter status. But if securities, or the transaction, are registered as required, 144 doesn’t apply. The revisions aimed to reduce previous limits on resale of restricted securities by reporting companies. Unfortunately, a certain amount of ambiguity has also crept in.

The Rule had clearly required a one-year holding period. But included in the new Rule 144(i) is the following: (paraphrased) “if a company has ever been a shell company[1], past or present, then the company must be current on its periodic SEC filings for twelve months following the time it ceases to be a shell, before 144 is available.”

For non-affiliates of non-reporting companies, the one year holding period requirement remains.

Rule 144 thus allows non-affiliates of a reporting company to resell restricted securities after a six-month holding period,