Category: Small Cap Market

Small Cap Market: A SPAC is a company organized to purchase one or more operating businesses and which generally intends to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO), direct public offering (DPO) or private offering…

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

Jun162015

SEC Has Approved A Two-Year Tick Size Pilot Program For Smaller Public Companies

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On May 6, 2015 the SEC approved a two-year pilot program with FINRA and the national securities exchanges that will widen the minimum quoting and trading increments, commonly referred to as tick sizes, for the stocks of smaller public companies.  The goal of the program is to study whether wider tick sizes improve the market quality and trading of these stocks. 

The basic premise is that if a tick size is wider, the spread will be bigger, and thus market makers and underwriters will have the ability to earn a larger profit on trading.  If market makers and underwriters can earn larger profits on trading, they will have incentive to make markets, support liquidity and issue research on smaller public companies.  The other side of the coin is that larger spreads and more profit for the traders equates to increased costs to the investors whose accounts are being traded. 

The tick size program

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.

May262015

SEC Congressional Testimony – Part 3

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On three occasions recently representatives of the SEC have given testimony to Congress.  On March 24, 2015, SEC Chair Mary Jo White testified on “Examining the SEC’s Agenda, Operations and FY 2016 Budget Request”; on March 19, 2015, Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement, testified to Congress on the “Oversight of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement”; and on March 10, 2015, Stephen Luparello, Director of the Division of Trading and Markets, testified on “Venture Exchanges and Small-Cap Companies.”  In a series of blogs, I will summarize the three testimonies.

In this last blog in the series I am summarizing the testimony of Stephen Luparello, Director of the Division of Trading and Markets, on “Venture Exchanges and Small-Cap Companies.”  The topic of venture exchanges and small-cap companies is of particular importance to me and my clients – it is the world in which we participate.

On May 5, 2015, I

May192015

SEC Proposed Pay Versus Performance

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On April 29, 2015, the SEC published the anticipated pay versus performance proposed rules.  The rules are in the comment period and will not be effective until the SEC publishes final rules.  Although timing is unclear, some commentators believe the new rules will be implemented as soon as the 2016 proxy season. 

The proposed rules require companies to clearly and concisely disclose the relationship between executive compensation actually paid and the financial performance of the company, taking into account any change in the value of the shares of stock and dividends of the registrant and any distributions.  The new proposed disclosure requirements will not apply to emerging growth companies or foreign private issuers.  In addition, smaller public companies will have a scaled back disclosure requirement. 

The proposed new rules implement Section 14(i) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) and as added by Section 953(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall

May122015

SEC Proposes Broadening Of Broker-Dealer Registration Rules To Include Proprietary And High-Frequency Traders

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On March 25, 2015, the SEC proposed rule amendments to require high-frequency and off-exchange traders to become members of FINRA.  The amendments would increase regulatory oversight over these traders.

Over the years many active cross-market proprietary trading firms have emerged, many of which engage in high-frequency trading.  These firms generally rely on the broad proprietary trading exemption in rule 15b9-1 to forgo membership with, and therefore regulatory oversight by, FINRA.  The rule change is specifically designed to require these high-frequency traders to become members of FINRA and submit to its review and oversight. 

The proposed rule change amends Rule 15b9-1 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) to narrow a current exemption from FINRA membership if the broker is a member of a national securities exchange, carries no customer accounts and has annual gross income of no more than $1,000 derived from sources other than the exchange to

May052015

SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies Explores Venture Exchanges, Private And Secondary Securities Trading and The NASAA Coordinated Review Program- Part I

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory 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.”

As previously written about, on March 4, 2015, the committee met and finalized its recommendation to the SEC regarding the definition of “accredited investor.”  My blog on those recommendations can be read HERE.  In addition to finalizing the accredited investor definition recommendation, at the March 4 meeting the Advisory Committee listened to presentations regarding and discussed several important and

Apr282015

SEC Congressional Testimony– Part II

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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SEC CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY – PART II

On three occasions recently, representatives of the SEC have given testimony to Congress.  On March 24, 2015, SEC Chair Mary Jo White testified on “Examining the SEC’s Agenda, Operations and FY 2016 Budget Request”; on March 19, 2015, Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement, testified to Congress on the “Oversight of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement”; and on March 10, 2015, Stephen Luparello, Director of the Division of Trading and Markets, testified on “Venture Exchanges and Small-Cap Companies.”  In a series of blogs, I will summarize the three testimonies. 

In the first blog in the series, which can be read HERE, I summarized Mary Jo White’s testimony.  This second blog in the series summarizes the testimony of Andrew Ceresney and in particular his words on the SEC’s enforcement focus for fiscal year 2016.

Andrew Ceresney, Director Division of Enforcement – Testimony to Congress

Apr142015

SEC Congressional Testimony- Part I

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On three occasions recently representatives of the SEC have given testimony to Congress.  On March 24, 2015, SEC Chair Mary Jo White testified on “Examining the SEC’s Agenda, Operations and FY 2016 Budget Request”; on March 19, 2015, Andrew Ceresny, Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement, testified to Congress on the “Oversight of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement”; and on March 10, 2015, Stephen Luparello, Director of the Division of Trading and Markets, testified on “Venture Exchanges and Small-Cap Companies.”  In a series of blogs, I will summarize the three testimonies.  This first blog in the series summarizes the testimony of Mary Jo White.

Mary Jo White Testimony

On March 24, 2015, SEC Chair Mary Jo White gave testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  The testimony was titled “Examining the SEC’s Agenda, Operations and FY 2016 Budget Request.”  As can be gleaned from the title, Mary

Mar312015

SEC Has Published Final Rules Adopting Regulation A+

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On March 25, 2015, the SEC pleasantly surprised the business community by releasing final rules amending Regulation A. The new rules are commonly referred to as Regulation A+.  The existing Tier I Regulation A, which does not preempt state law, has been increased to $20 million and the new Tier II, which does preempt state law, allows a raise of up to $50 million.  Issuers may elect to proceed under either Tier I or Tier II for offerings up to $20 million.  As is becoming common in the industry, I will refer to the new rules, including both Tier I and Tier II offerings, as Regulation A+.

In its press release announcing the passage, SEC Chair Mary Jo White was quoted as saying, “These new rules provide an effective, workable path to raising capital that also provides strong investor protections.  It is important for the Commission to continue to look for ways