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,