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SPAC Warrants

SEC Adopts Final Rules On SPACS, Shell Companies And The Use Of Projections – Part 1

On January 24, 2024, the SEC adopted final rules enhancing disclosure obligations for SPAC IPOs and subsequent de-SPAC business combination transactions.  The rules are designed to more closely align the required disclosures and legal liabilities that may be incurred in de-SPAC transactions with those in traditional IPOs.  The new rules spread beyond SPACs to shell companies and blank check companies in general.

The SEC is specifically requiring enhanced disclosures with respect to compensation paid to sponsors, conflicts of interest, dilution, and the determination, if any, of the board of directors (or similar governing body) of a SPAC regarding whether a de-SPAC transaction is advisable and in the best interests of the SPAC and its shareholders.  The SEC has also adopted rules that deem any business combination transaction involving a reporting shell company, including a SPAC, to involve a sale of securities to the reporting shell company’s shareholders, and has amended several financial statement requirements applicable to transactions involving

SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s Annual Congressional Testimony

On September 12, 2023, Gary Gensler gave his annual testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and then on September 27th to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services (for a review of last year’s testimony see HERE).  Both appearances included the same prepared remarks followed by robust Q&A from the lawmakers.

This year Chair Gensler’s prepared remarks focused on: (i) rule amendments and updates; (ii) improving efficiency in equity markets; (iii) disclosure matters and related enforcement including related to cryptocurrency; and (iv) general updates on the SEC and capital markets.

Prepared Remarks

We shouldn’t expect the busy SEC rule making agenda to slow down any time soon.  Chair Gensler prioritizes updating rules for technology, business and market changes.  Although Gensler’s speech focuses on rule changes to make the markets more efficient and resilient and lower costs, the reality is that not all rule changes will accomplish

SPAC Director And Sponsor Fiduciary Obligations

A year following the Delaware Chancery Court’s decision in Multiplan Corp. Stockholders Litigation (f/k/a Churchill Capital Corp III), the court again issued an opinion supporting a breach of fiduciary duty cause of action against SPAC directors and sponsors and confirming that a de-SPAC transaction should be reviewed using the “entire fairness” standard.  In the January 2023 case of Delman v. Gigacquisitions3, LLC, et al. the Delaware Court denied a motion to dismiss by SPAC sponsors and directors, upholding their potential liability.  Interestingly, the Delman motion was in front of the same vice-chancellor as was Multiplan.  My blog on the Multiplan Corp. Stockholders Litigation (f/k/a Churchill Capital Corp III) case and its ramifications can be read HERE.

In addition to confirming the inherent conflict of interest of SPAC sponsors and directors, the cases will undoubtedly cause practitioners and market participants to implement new policies and procedures related to proxy statement disclosures, diligence, board discussions, financial valuations, capital raising

Class Voting in Delaware – The Saga Continues

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the Garfield v. Boxed, Inc. case in Delaware questioning whether Class A and Class B common stock in a SPAC structure were different series of a same class or different classes of stock requiring separate class voting in certain circumstances (see HERE).  The Delaware Chancery court in Garfield v. Boxed, found that in that particular case, the Class A and Class B were separate classes requiring a separate class vote to increase the total outstanding common stock as required by the Delaware General Corporate Law (DGCL) Section 242(b)(2).

Following the Garfield decision, there has been a run on the Chancery Court by post-business-combination SPACs seeking to ratify shareholder approvals obtained during the de-SPAC process, in reliance on DGCL Section 205.  Although the wording has varied, in essence each of the companies have asked the Chancery court to (i) validate and declare effective the company’s current certificate of incorporation

Class Voting In Delaware And The Impact On SPACs

In December 2022, the Delaware Chancery Court entered a ruling sending the SPAC world spiraling, for what seems like the 10th time in the last couple of years.  As is always the case in a SPAC (or at least 99% of the time), common stock is broken into two series, Class A and Class B.  The Class A common stock is issued to the public shareholders in the underwritten initial public offering and the Class B common stock is issued to the sponsor.  Upon closing a business combination transaction, the sponsor Class B common stock automatically converts into Class A common stock, leaving one Class of common stock.  Also, in the majority of SPAC transactions, the shareholder approval for the business combination transaction involves other changes to the charter documents for the SPAC, including a name change, and changes in authorized capital stock, etc.  The term “charter” in this blog refers to the certificate of incorporation and any amendments

2022 Annual Report Of The Office Of The Advocate For Small Business Capital Formation

The Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation (“Office”) has published its Annual Report for fiscal year 2022 (“Report”).  The Report is delivered to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives directly by the Office, without review or input from the SEC at large.

Background

The SEC’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation launched in January 2019 after being created by Congress pursuant to the Small Business Advocate Act of 2016 (see HERE).  The mission of the Office is to advocate for pragmatic solutions to accessing capital markets and business growth.

The Office has the following functions: (i) assist small businesses (privately held or public with a market cap of less than $250 million) and their investors in resolving problems with the SEC or self-regulatory organizations; (ii) identify and propose regulatory changes that would benefit small businesses

SEC Proposes New Rules For SPACs – Part 6

On March 30, 2022, the SEC proposed rules related to SPAC and de-SPAC transactions including significantly enhanced disclosure obligations including related to financial projections, making a target company a co-registrant when a SPAC files an S-4 or F-4 registration statement associated with a business combination, and aligning de-SPAC transactions with initial public offering rules.  In addition, the SEC has also proposed rules that would deem any business combination transaction involving a reporting shell company, including but not limited to a SPAC, to involve a sale of securities to the reporting shell company’s shareholders.  The new rules would amend a number of financial statement requirements applicable to transactions involving shell companies.

In addition, the SEC has proposed a new safe harbor under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (‘40 Act’) that would provide that a SPAC that satisfies the conditions of the proposed rule would not be an investment company and therefore would not be subject to regulation under the

SEC Proposes New Rules For SPACs – Part 5

On March 30, 2022, the SEC proposed rules related to SPAC and de-SPAC transactions including significantly enhanced disclosure obligations, expanding the scope of deemed public offerings in these transactions, making a target company a co-registrant when a SPAC files an S-4 or F-4 registration statement associated with a business combination, and aligning de-SPAC transactions with initial public offering rules.  In addition, the SEC has also proposed rules that would deem any business combination transaction involving a reporting shell company, including but not limited to a SPAC, to involve a sale of securities to the reporting shell company’s shareholders.  The new rules would amend a number of financial statement requirements applicable to transactions involving shell companies.

In addition to proposing new rules for SPAC and de-SPAC transactions, the SEC is proposing new Securities Act Rule 145a that would deem all business combinations with an Exchange Act reporting shell to involve the sale of securities to the reporting shell company’s

SEC Proposes New Rules for SPACs- Part 4

On March 30, 2022, the SEC proposed rules enhancing disclosure requirements associated with SPAC initial public offerings (IPOs) and de-SPAC merger transactions; requiring that a private operating company be a co-registrant when a SPAC files an S-4 or F-4 registration statement associated with a business combination; requiring a re-determination of smaller reporting company status within four days following the consummation of a de-SPAC transaction; amending the definition of a “blank check company” to make the liability safe harbor in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for forward-looking statement such as projections, unavailable in filings by SPACs and other blank check companies; and deeming underwriters in a SPAC IPO to be underwriters in a de-SPAC transaction when certain conditions are met.

The proposed rules would require specialized disclosure with respect to compensation paid to sponsors, conflicts of interest, dilution and the fairness of business combination transactions.  Further disclosures will also be required in connection with the use of projections. 

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