One of the bankers that I work with often once asked me if I had written a blog with a side-by-side comparison of listing on Nasdaq vs. the OTC Markets and I realized I had not, so it went on the list and with the implementation of the new 15c2-11 rules, now seems a very good time to tackle the project. I’ve added NYSE American to the list as well.
Quantitative and Liquidity Listing Standards
Nasdaq Capital Markets
To list its securities on Nasdaq Capital Markets, a company is required to meet: (a) certain initial quantitative and qualitative requirements and (b) certain continuing quantitative and qualitative requirements. The quantitative listing thresholds for initial listing are generally higher than for continued listing, thus helping to ensure that companies have reached a sufficient level of maturity prior to listing. NASDAQ also requires listed companies to meet stringent corporate governance standards.
|Requirements||Equity Standard||Market Value of
As the compliance date for the new 15c2-11 rules looms near, on August 2, 2021, in a very short statement, the SEC shot down any near-term hope for an OTC Markets operated “expert market.” The SEC short statement indicated that a review of the proposed exemptive order that would allow the expert market is not on its agenda in the short term. The SEC continued that “[A]ccordingly, on September 28, 2021, the compliance date for the amendments to Rule 15c2-11, we expect that broker-dealers will no longer be able to publish proprietary quotations for the securities of any issuer for which there is no current and publicly available information, unless an existing exception to Rule 15c2-11 applies.”
The statement acts as a great segue for a review as to just what those exceptions may be. In addition, this blog will discuss the OTC Markets proposed expert market and finish with a broader refresher on the new 211 rules including the
Despite an unusual abundance of comments and push-back, on September 16, 2020, one year after issuing proposed rules (see HERE), the SEC has adopted final rules amending Securities Exchange Act (“Exchange Act”) Rule 15c2-11. The primary purpose of the rule amendment is to enhance retail protection where there is little or no current and publicly available information about a company and as such, it is difficult for an investor or other market participant to evaluate the company and the risks involved in purchasing or selling its securities. The SEC believes the final amendments will preserve the integrity of the OTC market, and promote capital formation for issuers that provide current and publicly available information to investors.
From a high level, the amended rule will require that a company have current and publicly available information as a precondition for a broker-dealer to either initiate or continue to quote its securities; will narrow reliance on certain of the rules
As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 23, 2013, the SEC published proposed crowdfunding rules. The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” The entire 584-page text of the rule release is available on the SEC website. The proposed rules invite public comment on many points and have indeed resulted in such comments. As of today, it is unclear when final rules will be released and passed into law and what changes those final rules will have from the proposed rules. Moreover, upon passage of the final rules, there will be a period of ramping up time in which crowdfunding portals complete the process of registering with the SEC, becoming members of FINRA and completing the necessary steps to ensure that their portal operates in compliance with those final rules. Federal crowdfunding it coming, but it is a slow process.
In the meantime, many states have recently either enacted or introduced state-specific crowdfunding
On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, commonly referred to as Regulation A+. The proposed rules both add the new Section 3(b)(2) (i.e., Regulation A+) provisions and modify the existing Regulation A. This blog is limited to a discussion of the new Regulation A+.
Title IV of the JOBS Act technically amends Section 3(b) of the Securities Act, which up to now has been a general provision allowing the SEC to fashion exemptions from registration, up to a total offering amount of $5,000,000. Regulation A is and has historically been an exemption created under the powers afforded the SEC by Section 3(b).
Technically speaking, Regulation D, Rule 504 and 505 offerings and Regulation A offerings are promulgated under Section 3(b), and Rule 506 is promulgated under Section 4(a)(2). This is important because federal law does not pre-empt state law for Section 3(b) offerings, but it does so for Section
Back in October 2010 I wrote a blog titled “Has the OTCBB been replaced by the OTCQX and OTCQB”; at the time and up until May 16, 2013, my opinion was “yes” with one big caveat. Prior to May 16, 2013, all three tiers of the OTC Link were considered “pinksheets” by the SEC staff. Prior to May 16, 2013, the OTC Link was not considered a market and therefore: (1) there could be no at-the-market pricing of securities registered for resale by an Issuer on behalf of its selling shareholders; and (2) there could be no equity lines or similar financing transactions and no registration of underlying convertible equities which are priced based on a formula tied to the trading price (usually a discount to market), for OTC Link quoted securities.
On May 16, 2013, the SEC updated their Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations confirming that the OTCQB and OTCQX marketplaces are now considered public marketplaces for purposes of establishing
For the past two years it had appeared that the OTCBB had been replaced by the OTC Link run OTCQB and the OTCQX. For all intents and purposes since the fall of 2010, the industry-wide proliferation of the OTCQB and OTCQX has marginalized the OTCBB to the brink of extinction. It is has now become incredibly apparent that the OTCQB is the new micro-cap reporting standard.
Over the past few years the historical “Pink Sheets” and its online presence has undergone some considerable changes, starting with the creation of several well-defined “tiers” of issuers and culminating in a completely refurbished website and a new URL – www.otcmarkets.com; and new name for the Inter-dealer quotation system – the OTC Link. The OTC Link divides issuers into three levels: OTCQX; OTCQB and Pink Sheets. Quotation on both the OTCQB and OTCQX requires that the Issuer be subject to and current with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today suspended the trading in 379 dormant shell companies. This is the most trading suspensions in a single day in the history of the SEC. The trading suspensions are part of an SEC initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group. Each of the companies was a dormant shell that was lacking any and all public disclosures. That is, each of the companies failed to have adequate current public information available either through the news service on OTC Markets or filed with the SEC via EDGAR.
The federal securities laws allow the SEC to suspend trading in any stock for up to 10 business days. Once a company is suspended from trading, it cannot be quoted again until it provides updated information including complete disclosure of its business and accurate financial statements. In addition to providing the necessary information, to begin to trade again, a company must enlist a market maker