On January 30, 2023, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance updated its Financial Reporting Manual (“Manual”). The latest update is dated as of December 31, 2022. Although we attorneys like to leave the accounting to the accountants, the Financial Reporting Manual is a go to resource for all practitioners and is generally one of the many resources always open on my desktop.
As the preamble to the Manual states, it was originally created as internal guidance to the SEC staff. In 2008, in an effort to increase transparency of informal staff interpretations, the SEC posted a version of the Manual to its website. The SEC continues with its usual disclaimers that the manual is not formal guidance and that they can change their interpretations or views at any time, etc. Regardless, we all use it as a resource and in my years of experience, have never had the SEC take a counter-position to the Manual’s guidance unless there has been
Final Rules On The Foreign Companies Accountable Act; PCAOB Reached Deal WIth China And Hong Kong – Part III
The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (“HFCA”) was adopted on December 18, 2020, requiring both the SEC and the PCAOB to adopt rules and procedures implementing its provisions. The HFCA requires foreign-owned issuers to certify that the PCAOB has been able to audit specified reports and inspect their audit firm within the last three years. If the PCAOB is unable to inspect the company’s public accounting firm for three consecutive years, the company’s securities are banned from trading on a national exchange.
As part of the HFCA’s implementation, on November 5, 2021, the SEC approved PCAOB Rule 6100 establishing a framework for the PCAOB’s determination that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms located in foreign jurisdictions because of a position taken by an authority in that jurisdiction (see HERE) On December 2, 2021, the SEC adopted amendments to finalize rules implementing the submission and disclosure requirements in the HFCA (see HERE) and
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt normal business operations and impede a third proxy/annual meeting season, the SEC has issued guidance regarding compliance with the federal proxy rules for upcoming annual meetings considering health, transportation, and other logistical issues raised by the spread of Covid. Layering onto the guidance directed at extra-ordinary circumstances is the growing underlying belief that virtual and hybrid meetings are here to stay and public America must navigate a new road map.
On January 19, 2022, the SEC Divisions of Corporation Finance (“CorpFin”) and of Investment Management issued guidance related to meeting the requirements of the federal proxy rules for holding annual meetings in light of Covid disruptions. In addition to the specific guidelines, the SEC strongly encourages all market participants, including broker-dealers, transfer agents, and proxy service providers to be flexible and work collaboratively with one another with the goal of facilitating a company’s obligation to hold an annual meeting.
On June 1, 2021, SEC Chair Gary Gensler and the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued statements making it clear that the SEC would not be enforcing the 2020 amendments to certain rules governing proxy advisory firms or the SEC guidance on the new rules.
In particular, in July 2020 the SEC adopted amendments to change the definition of “solicitation” in Exchange Act Rule 14a-1(l) to specifically include proxy advice subject to certain exceptions, provide additional examples for compliance with the anti-fraud provisions in Rule 14a-9 and amended Rule 14a-2(b) to specifically exempt proxy voting advice businesses from the filing and information requirements of the federal proxy rules. On the same day, the SEC issued updated guidance on the new rules. See HERE for a discussion on the new rules and related guidance.
Like all rules and guidance related to the proxy process, the amendments were controversial with views generally falling along partisan lines. On June 1, 2021, Chair
Those that regularly read my blog know that I sometimes like to go back to basics. This blog will revisit and discuss the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance (“CorpFin”) comment and review process. Back in March 2016, I wrote about the SEC comment and review process, including a description of the internal review process, review levels and breakup of industry sector reviewers. That blog can be read HERE. Since that time, the SEC has eliminated the Tandy Letter requirement. See HERE. Furthermore, on March 22, 2018, CorpFin updated its “Filing Review Process” page on the SEC website.
At the end of each calendar year, the big four accounting firms generally publish studies on CorpFin’s Comment Priorities. Their studies, and other recent publications, uniformly found that the number of comments, especially in a registration process, has dramatically declined. I have noticed this trend as well in my practice.
Also consistent in reports is a list of recent