The much anticipated amendments to the accredited investor definition and definition of qualified institutional buyer under Rule 144A were adopted by the SEC on August 26, 2020. The amendments come almost five years after the SEC published a report on the definition of “accredited investors” ( see HERE) and nine months after it published the proposed amendments (see HERE). The rule changes also took into account the input and comment letters received in response to the SEC’s concept release and request for public comment on ways to simplify, harmonize and improve the exempt offering framework (see HERE).
As a whole industry insiders, including myself, are pleased with the rule changes and believe it will open up private investment opportunities to a wider class of sophisticated investors, while still maintaining investor protections. As the SEC pointed out historically, individual investors who do not meet specific income or net worth tests, regardless of their financial sophistication, have been denied
Four years after issuing its report on the definition of “accredited investors” in December 2015, the SEC has published a proposed rule amendment to the definition. See HERE for my blog on the SEC’s report. The amendments were anticipated following an in-depth discussion on the definition contained in the SEC’s Concept Release on Private Offerings published in July 2019 (see HERE)
As a whole industry insiders, including myself, are pleased with the proposal and believe it will open up private investment opportunities to a wider class of sophisticated investors, while still maintaining investor protections. In the rule amendment release the SEC cites numerous comment letters suggesting and supporting many of the proposed amendments including one from the Crowdfunding Professionals Association (CfPA), Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Division, a committee I sit on and for which I participated in the preparation of the comment letter.
The current test for individual accredited investors is a bright line income or net
On December 16, 2016, the SEC announced several new settled enforcement proceedings against market participants including issuers, attorneys and a transfer agent, related to penny stock fraud. On the same day the SEC issued a new white paper detailing the risks associated with investing in penny stocks. This blog summarizes the SEC white paper.
As I have written about on numerous occasions, the prevention of micro-cap fraud is and will always be a primary focus of the SEC and other securities regulators. In fact, the SEC will go to great lengths to investigate and ultimately prosecute micro-cap fraud. See my blog HERE regarding the recent somewhat scandalous case involving Guy Gentile.
The SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis published a white paper on the risks and consequences of investing in stocks quoted in the micro-cap markets versus those listed on a national securities exchange. The paper reviewed 1.8 million trades by more than 200,000 investors and concludes that
SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies Issues Further Recommendations On Accredited Investor Definition
On July 19, 2016, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) met and drafted its recommendations and response to the SEC report on the definition of accredited investor. The subject of changes to the definition of accredited investor has been debated in a series of reports, recommendations, proposals and comment letters since early 2015.
On December 18, 2015, the SEC issued a 118-page report on the definition of “accredited investor” (the “report”). The report follows the March 2015 SEC Advisory Committee recommendations related to the definition. The SEC is reviewing the definition of “accredited investor” as directed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that the SEC review the definition as relates to “natural persons” every four years to determine if it should be modified or adjusted. See my blog HERE on the report and additional background on the subject.
At the July 19 meeting, the Advisory Committee finalized a draft of a letter
On May 3, 2016, the SEC issued final amendments to revise the rules related to the thresholds for registrations, termination of registration, and suspension of reporting under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The amendments mark the final rule making and implementation of all provisions under the JOBS Act, and implement further provisions under the FAST Act.
The amendments revise the Section 12(g) and 15(d) rules to reflect the new, higher shareholder thresholds for triggering registration requirements and for allowing the voluntary termination of registration or suspension of reporting obligations. The new rules also make similar changes related to banks, bank holding companies, and savings and loan companies.
Specifically, the SEC has amended Exchange Act Rules 12g-1 through 12g-4 and 12h-3 related to the procedures for termination of registration under Section 12(g) through the filing of a Form 15 and for suspension of reporting obligations under Section 15(d), to reflect the higher thresholds set by the
On December 18, 2015, the SEC issued a 118-page report on the definition of “Accredited Investor” (the “Report”). The report follows the March 2015 SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) recommendations related to the definition. The SEC is reviewing the definition of “accredited investor” as directed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that the SEC review the definition as relates to “natural persons” every four years to determine if it should be modified or adjusted.
The definition of “accredited investor” has not been comprehensively re-examined by regulators since its adoption in 1982; however, in 2011 the Dodd-Frank Act amended the definition to exclude a person’s primary residence from the net worth test of accreditation.
Although the Report contains detailed discussions on the various aspects of the definition of an accredited investor, the history of the different aspects of the definition, a discussion of different approaches taken in other U.S. regulations and in foreign
SEC Advisory Committee On Small And Emerging Companies’ Recommendations On Accredited Investor Definition
On December 17, 2014 and again on March 4, 2015, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “Advisory Committee”) met and finalized its recommendation to the SEC regarding the definition of “accredited investor.” The Advisory Committee unanimously approved the recommendation, which is decidedly pro small business and supportive of facilitating capital formation, and communicated such recommendation to the SEC in a letter dated March 9, 2015 (the “Letter”). The Letter contains a pragmatic discussion of the importance of small business capital formation, the importance of the “accredited investor” definition, and the lack of connection between the definition and fraud prevention.
As set forth in the Advisory Committee Letter, the committee was organized by the SEC to provide advice on SEC rules, regulations and policies regarding “its mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitating capital formation” as related to “(i) capital raising by emerging privately held small businesses and publicly traded companies
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
On December 18, 2014, the SEC published proposed rule amendments to implement portions of Title V and Title VI of the JOBS Act by amending rules promulgated under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”). The proposed amendments will revise the Section 12(g) rules to reflect the new, higher shareholder thresholds for triggering registration requirements and for allowing the voluntary termination of registration or suspension of reporting obligations. The proposed rules also make similar changes related to banks, bank holding companies, and savings and loan companies.
The proposed rules establish the time for determining accredited status for purposes of calculating shareholders of record and the corresponding application of the registration and deregistration rules. In particular, the proposed rules set the last day of the fiscal year as the relevant calculation moment effectively imposing an obligation on issuers to obtain, and investors to give, updated representations following an initial
NASDAQ acquires Sharepost
On Wednesday March 6, 2013, NASDAQ surprised the small cap and investment community when it announced it is acquiring Sharepost’s private company market place (PCMP) exchange and rebranding it the Nasdaq Private Exchange.
In December, 2011, I wrote a few blogs on PCMPs. A PCMP is a trading platform, such as SharePost or SecondMarket that provides a market place for illiquid restricted securities, such as private company securities, 144 stock, debt instruments, warrants, and the like or alternative assets. It is on a PCMP that pre-IPO Facebook, Groupon and LInkedin received their trading start. Following the IPO of these large entities, and in particular Facebook, traffic and use of PCMP sites declines, but NASDAQ clearly believes the decline is temporary, and I agree.
Private Company Market Places
Each PCMP offers a fully automated back office, documentation, escrow, transfer and settlement support. Users open trading accounts, like they would with any other broker dealer. The PCMP provider collects
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
Title II of the JOBS Act provides that the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. The JOBS Act directs the SEC to make the same amendment to Rule 144A so long as all purchasers in the Rule 144A offering are qualified institutional buyers. Neither a Rule 506 offering nor a Rule 144A offering will be considered a public offering (i.e. will lose its exemption) by virtue of a general solicitation or general advertising so long as the issuer has taken reasonable steps to verify that purchasers are either accredited investors or qualified institutional buyers, respectively. Since it would be impossible to ensure that only accredited investors, or qualified institutional buyers, receive, review or become aware of