The Section 4(a)(1) And 4(a)(1½) Exemption; Recommendations For An Amendment To Rule 144 Related To Shell Companies
What are the Section 4(a)(1) and Section 4(a)(1½) exemptions, and how do they work?
Section 4(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) provides an exemption for a transaction “by a person other than an issuer, underwriter, or dealer.” Rule 144 provides a non-exclusive safe harbor for the sale of securities under Section 4(a)(1). In the event that Rule 144 is unavailable, a holder of securities may still rely upon Section 4(a)(1). Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act provides an exemption for sales by the issuer not involving a public offering. The issuer itself may not rely on Section 4(a)(1), and selling security holders may not rely on Section 4(a)(2).
Case law and the SEC unilaterally conclude that an affiliate (officer, director or greater than 10% shareholder) of the issuer may not rely on Section 4(a)(1) for the resale of securities. In particular, an affiliate is presumptively deemed an underwriter unless such affiliate meets the requirements for use of