Category: Securities Law

Securities Law: Legal & Compliance, LLC is a securities law firm located in West Palm Beach, FL…

Apr192016

The U.S. Capital Markets Clearance And Settlement Process

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Within the world of securities there are many sectors and facets to explore and understand.  To be successful, a public company must have an active, liquid trading market.  Accordingly, the trading markets themselves, including the settlement and clearing process in the US markets, is an important fundamental area of knowledge that every public company, potential public company, and advisor needs to comprehend.  A basic understanding of the trading markets will help drive relationships with transfer agents, market makers, broker-dealers and financial public relations firms as well as provide the knowledge to improve relationships with shareholders.  In addition, small pooled funds such as venture and hedge funds and family offices that invest in public markets will benefit from an understanding of the process.

This blog provides a historical foundation and summary of the clearance and settlement processes for US equities markets.  In a future blog, I will drill down into specific trading, including short

Apr122016

Regulation SCI

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The SEC adopted Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity (Regulation SCI) on November 3, 2015 to improve regulatory standards and processes related to technology in the securities business including by financial services firms. Regulation SCI was originally proposed in March 2013. Security and standards related to technological processes, data storage and systems has been a top priority of the SEC over the last few years and continues to be so this year.

Background

Technology has transformed the securities industry over the last years both in the area of regulatory oversight such as through algorithms to spot trading anomalies that could indicate manipulation and/or insider trading issues, and for market participants through enhanced speed, capacity, efficiency and sophistication of trading abilities. Enhanced technology carries the corresponding risk of failures, disruptions and of course hacking/intrusions. Moreover, as U.S. securities market systems are interconnected; an issue with one entity or system can have widespread consequences for all

Apr052016

Mergers And Acquisitions: Types Of Transactions

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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As merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions completed its most active year since the financial crisis, it is helpful to go back to basics. Activity has been prevalent in all market sectors, including large, mid and small cap and across all industries, including biotech, financial services, technology, consumer goods and services, food and beverage and healthcare, among others.

Although I’ve written about M&A transactions multiple times, this will be the first time I’ve given a broad overview of the forms that an M&A transaction can take.

Types of Mergers and Acquisitions

A merger or acquisition transaction is the combination of two companies into one resulting in either one corporate entity or a parent-holding and subsidiary company structure. Mergers can categorized by the competitive relationship between the parties and by the legal structure of the transaction. Related to competitive relationship, there are three types of mergers: horizontal, vertical and conglomerate. In a horizontal merger, one

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

Mar222016

SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies Reviews Capital Formation

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On February 25, 2016, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) met and listened to three presentations on access to capital and private offerings. The three presentations were by Jeffrey E. Sohl, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Decision Science Director, Center For Venture Research at University of New Hampshire; Brian Knight, Associate Director of Financial Policy, Center for Financial Markets at the Milken Institute; and Scott Bauguess, Deputy Director, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis at the SEC. The presentations expound upon the recent SEC study on unregistered offerings (see blog HERE).

The presentations were designed to provide information to the Advisory Committee as they continue to explore recommendations to the SEC on various capital formation topics. This blog summarizes the 3 presentations.

By way of reminder, the Committee was organized by the SEC to provide advice on SEC rules, regulations and policies regarding “its mission of

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

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

Mar012016

State Blue Sky Concerns; Florida and New York

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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I have often written about state blue sky compliance and issues in completing offerings that do not pre-empt state law, including Tier 1 of Regulation A+ and initial or direct public offerings on Form S-1. I’ve also often expressed my opinion that the SEC, together with FINRA, is best suited to govern most securities-related registrations and exemptions, including both for offerings and broker-dealer matters, and that the states should be more focused on state-specific registrations and exemptions (such as intrastate offerings) and investigation and enforcement with respect to fraud or deceit, or unlawful conduct.

Despite the SEC support for the NASAA-coordinated review program to simplify the state blue sky process for securities offerings, such as under Tier 1 of Regulation A+, only 43 states participate. I say “only” in this context because the holdouts – including, for example, Florida, New York, Arizona and Georgia – are extremely active states for small business

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