Category: SEC

SEC: On December 18, 2015, the SEC issued a 118-page report on the definition of “Accredited Investor” (the “Report”). The report follows the March 2015 SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) recommendations related to the definition. The SEC is reviewing the definition of “accredited investor” as directed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that the SEC review the definition as relates to “natural persons” every four years to determine if it should be modified or adjusted…

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

Feb232016

SEC Proposes Transfer Agent Rules

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 22, 2015, the SEC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and concept release on proposed new requirements for transfer agents and requesting public comment. The transfer agent rules were adopted in 1977 and have remained essentially unchanged since that time. An advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) describes intended new and amended rules and seeks comments on same, but is not in fact that actual proposed rule release. The SEC indicates that following the comment process associated with this ANPR, it intends to propose actual new rules as soon as practicable.

To invoke thoughtful comment and response, the SEC summarized the history of the role of transfer agents within the securities clearing system as well as the current rules and proposed new rules. In addition, the SEC discusses and seeks comments on broader topics that may affect transfer agents and the securities system as a whole. This blog gives a

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

Jan122016

SEC Issues Report On Accredited Investor Definition

On December 18, 2015, the SEC issued a 118-page report on the definition of “Accredited Investor” (the “Report”). The report follows the March 2015 SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) recommendations related to the definition. The SEC is reviewing the definition of “accredited investor” as directed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that the SEC review the definition as relates to “natural persons” every four years to determine if it should be modified or adjusted.

The definition of “accredited investor” has not been comprehensively re-examined by regulators since its adoption in 1982; however, in 2011 the Dodd-Frank Act amended the definition to exclude a person’s primary residence from the net worth test of accreditation.

Although the Report contains detailed discussions on the various aspects of the definition of an accredited investor, the history of the different aspects of the definition, a discussion of different approaches taken in other U.S. regulations and in foreign

Nov242015

SEC Advisory Committee Recommendations Related To Finders

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 the regulation of finders and other intermediaries in small business capital formation transactions. This is a topic I have written about often, including a recent comprehensive blog which can be read HERE.

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 Advisory Committee made four recommendations related

Nov172015

SEC Proposes Amendments Related To Intrastate And Regional Securities Offerings- Part 1

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On October 30, 2015, the SEC published proposed rule amendments to facilitate intrastate and regional securities offerings. This rule proposal comes following the September 23, 2015, Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) recommendation to the SEC regarding the modernization of the Rule 147 Intrastate offering exemption. The SEC has proposed amendments to Rule 147 to modernize the rule and accommodate adopted state intrastate crowdfunding provisions. The proposed amendment eliminates the restriction on offers and eases the issuer eligibility requirements, provided however the issuer must comply with the specific state securities laws. In addition, the SEC has proposed amendments to Rule 504 of Regulation D to increase the aggregate offering amount from $1 million to $5 million and to add bad actor disqualifications from reliance on the rule. Finally, the SEC has made technical amendments to Rule 505 of Regulation D.

In this Part I of the blog, I will

Nov032015

The Materiality Standard; NYSE Amends Rules; FASB Proposed Guidance

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The recent increase in regulatory activity and marketplace discussion on the topic of disclosure has not been limited to the small business arena or small cap marketplace.  Effective September 28, 2015, the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) amended its Rule 202.06 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual, which governs the procedures that listed companies must follow for the release of material information.  Also, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued two exposure drafts providing guidance and seeking comments on the use of materiality to help companies eliminate unnecessary disclosures in their financial statements and to determine what is “material” for inclusion in notes to the financial statements.  Both exposure drafts solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts published by FASB.

NYSE Rule 202.06 Amendment

As published in the federal register, the NYSE proposes to amend Section 202.06 of the Manual to “(i) expand the premarket hours

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

Oct132015

SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies Recommends Modernizing Rule 147 for Intrastate Crowdfunding Offerings

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 the modernization of the Rule 147 Intrastate offering exemption.  The recommendations are focused on facilitating recently enacted and future state-based crowdfunding initiatives.

I have written about the Advisory Committee on numerous occasions, but 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.”

In formulating its recommendations, the Advisory

Sep292015

SEC Footnote 32 and Sham S-1 Registration Statements

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Over the past several years, many direct public offering (DPO) S-1 registration statements have been filed for either shell or development-stage companies, claiming an intent to pursue and develop a particular business, when in fact, the promoter intends to create a public vehicle to be used for reverse merger transactions.  For purposes of this blog, I will refer to these S-1 registration statements the same way the SEC now does, as “sham registrations.”  I prefer the term “sham registrations” as it better describes the process than the other used industry term of art, “footnote 32 shells.”

Footnote 32 is part of the Securities Offering Reform Act of 2005 (“Securities Offering Reform Act”).  In the final rule release for the Securities Offering Reform Act, the SEC included a footnote (number 32) which states:

“We have become aware of a practice in which the promoter of a company and/or affiliates of the promoter