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Form S-3

A Review of FINRA’s Corporate Finance Rule

As the strongest U.S. IPO market in decades continues unabated, it seems a good time to talk about underwriter’s compensation.  FINRA Rule 5110 (Corporate Financing Rule – Underwriting Terms and Arrangements) governs the compensation that may be received by an underwriter in connection with a public offering.

Rule 5110 – The “Corporate Financing Rule”

Rule 5110 regulates underwriting compensation and prohibits unfair arrangements in connection with the public offerings of securities.  The Rule prohibits member firms from participating in a public offering of securities if the underwriting terms and conditions, including compensation, are unfair as defined by FINRA.  The Rule requires FINRA members to make filings with FINRA disclosing information about offerings they participate in, including the amount of all compensation to be received by the firm or its principals, and affiliations and relationships that could result in the existence of a conflict of interest.  As more fully described herein, underwriter’s compensation is subject to lock-up provisions.

Filing Requirements

SEC Issues Transitional FAQ On Regulation S-K Amendments

The recent amendments to Items 101, 103 and 105 of Regulation S-K (see HERE) went into effect on November 9, 2020, raising many questions as to the transition to the new requirements.  In response to what I am sure were many inquiries to the Division of Corporation Finance, the SEC has issued three transitional FAQs.

The amendments made changes to Item 101 – description of business, Item 103 – legal proceedings, and Item 105 – Risk Factors of Regulation S-K.

FAQ – Form S-3 Prospectus Supplement

The first question relates to the impact on Form S-3 and in particular the current use of prospectus supplements for an S-3 that went into effect prior to November 9, 2020.  In general, a Form S-3 is used as a shelf registration statement and a company files a prospectus supplement each time it takes shares down off that shelf (see HERE).

The prospectus supplement must meet the requirements of Securities Act Rule

A Covid IPO: The Virtual Roadshow

Although many aspects of an IPO are unaffected by a pandemic, assuming the capital markets continue to have an appetite for public offerings, the grueling road show has gone virtual, and it may be here to stay.  An old-fashioned road show involved an intense travel schedule and expensive setup.  The new virtual road show can be completed in half the time and a fraction of the price, and interestingly, the IPO’s that have been completed since March 2020, have all priced their deals at the midpoint or higher of their ranges.  The lack of face-to-face presentations is not hurting the deals.

I tend to believe the world has changed forever.  However, fluidity of memory and a capacity to adapt are fundamental human traits and we have and will adapt our business style to adjust to a world where germs are a real enemy and getting sick doesn’t just mean a day or two out of the office.   There has been

SPAC IPOs A Sign Of Impending M&A Opportunities

The last time I wrote about special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) in July 2018, I noted that SPACs had been growing in popularity, raising more money in 2017 than in any year since the last financial crisis (see HERE).  Not only has the trend continued, but the Covid-19 crisis, while temporarily dampening other aspects of the IPO market, has caused a definite uptick in the SPAC IPO world.

In April, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that SPACs are booming and that “[S]o far this year, these special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have raised $6.5 billion, on pace for their biggest year ever, according to Dealogic. In April, 80% of all money raised for U.S. initial public offerings went to blank-check firms, compared with an average of 9% over the past decade.”

I’m not surprised.  Within weeks of Covid-19 reaching a global crisis and causing a shutdown of the U.S. economy, instead of my phone

SEC Publishes FAQ On COVID-19 Effect On S-3 Registration Statements

The SEC has issued FAQ on Covid-19 issues, including the impact on S-3 shelf registration statements.  The SEC issued 4 questions and answers consisting of one question related to disclosure and three questions related to S-3 shelf registrations.

SEC FAQ

Disclosure

Confirming prior guidance, the SEC FAQ sets forth the required disclosures in the Form 8-K or 6-K filed by a company to take advantage of a Covid-19 extension for the filing of periodic reports.  In particular, in the Form 8-K or Form 6-K, the company must disclose (i) that it is relying on the COVID-19 Order (for more information on the Order, see HERE); (ii) a brief description of the reasons why the company could not file the subject report, schedule or form on a timely basis; (iii) the estimated date by which the report, schedule or form is expected to be filed; and (iv) a company-specific risk factor or factors explaining the impact, if material, of

Relief For Persons Affected By The Coronavirus

Last week I published a blog summarizing the relief granted by the SEC for public companies and capital markets participants impacted by the coronavirus (Covid-19) (see HERE).  Just as Covid-19 rapidly evolves, so have the regulators response.  The SEC has now expanded the relief and issued guidance on public company disclosures related to Covid-19.

While we work to complete the usual filings while in quarantine, a new conversation is starting to develop at a rapid pace.  That is, the conversation of opportunity and the accelerating of a more technologically driven economy than ever before.  Businesses and service providers must stay nimble and ready to serve the ever changing needs of entrepreneurs and the capital markets – I know we are!

Extension in SEC Reporting Filing Deadlines

On March 25, 2020, the SEC extended its prior conditional relief order such that periodic filings that would have been due from between March 1 and July 1, 2020 can avail themselves of

Conditional Relief For Persons Affected By Coronavirus

As the whole world faces unprecedented personal and business challenges, our duty to continue to run our businesses, meet regulatory filing obligations and support our capital markets continues unabated.  While we stay inside and practice social distancing, we also need to work each day navigating the new normal.  Thankfully many in the capital markets, including our firm, were already set up to continue without any interruption, working virtually in our homes relying on the same technology we have relied on for years.

We all need to remember that the panic selling frenzy will end.  Emotions with even out and the daily good news that comes with the bad (for example, the number of cases in China is falling dramatically; some drugs are working to help and the FDA is speeding up review times for others; early signs China’s economy is starting to recover already; scientists around the world are making breakthroughs on a vaccine; etc.) will begin to quell the

Terminating Section 15(d) Reporting; Determining Voluntary Reporting Status

A public company with a class of securities registered under Section 12 or which is subject to Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) must file Section 13 reports with the SEC (10-K, 10-Q and 8-K).  A company becomes subject to Section 15(d) by filing a registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”) such as a Form S-1.  A company registers securities under Section 12 by filing an Exchange Act registration statement such as on Form 10, Form 20-F or Form 8-A.

The Section 15(d) reporting requirements are scaled down from the Exchange Act reporting requirements for a company with a class of securities registered under Section 12.  In particular, a company that is only subject to Section 15(d) need only comply with the Section 13 reporting obligations and need not comply with the federal proxy rules and third-party tender offer rules in Section 14, the officer/director and

Incorporation By Reference

During lulls in the very active rule changes and blog-worthy news coming from the SEC and related regulators, it is great to step back and write about basics that affect SEC attorneys and market participants on a daily basis. In the realm of securities laws, the concept of “incorporation by reference” is simple enough – information from another document, registration statement or filing is included in a current document, registration statement or filing by referring to the other without repeating its contents.  Similarly, “forward incorporation by reference” means that a document is automatically updated with information contained in a future SEC filing.

Although the concepts are relatively straight forward, their application is complex with differing rules for different classes of companies (such as an emerging growth company, smaller reporting company, or well-known seasoned issuer) and different filings such as a registration statement filed under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) or a periodic report filed under the Securities

S-3 Eligibility

The ability to use an S-3 registration statement is significant for exchange traded companies.  An S-3 allows forward incorporation by reference and can be used for a shelf registration among other benefits.  S-3 eligibility is comprised of both registrant or company requirements and transaction requirements.  In this blog I will discuss the general company and transaction requirements for a Form S-3.  In a separate blog I will drill down on shelf offerings.

Registrant Requirements

Companies that meet the following requirements are eligible to use a Form S-3 for a transaction that meets one of the transaction requirements:

                (1) The company must be organized under the laws of the United States and must have its principal business operations in the United States or its territories;

                (2) The company has a class of securities registered pursuant to either Section 12(b) or 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) or is required to file reports pursuant to Section 15(d)

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