On June 25, 2020, SEC Chair Jay Clayton gave testimony before the Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services on the topic of capital markets and emergency lending in the Covid-19 era. The next day, on June 26, Chair Clayton, William Hinman, Director of the Division of Corporation Finance, Dalia Blass, Director of the Division of Investment Management and Brett Redfearn, Director of the Division of Trading and Markets issued a public statement on the same topic but expanded to include efforts to ensure the orderly function of U.S. capital markets.
Chair Clayton Testimony
Chair Clayton breaks down his testimony over five topics including: (i) market monitoring and regulatory coordination; (ii) guidance and targeted assistance and relief; (iii) investor protection, education and outreach efforts; (iv) ongoing mission-oriented work; and (v) the SEC’s fiscal-year 2021 budget request.
Market Monitoring and Regulatory Coordination
Despite the extraordinary volumes and volatility we have seen
Last week the SEC Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA) made a public statement on the importance of high-quality financial reporting for investors in light of Covid-19 on the same day that the Division of Corporation Finance issued an updated Disclosure Guidance Topic No. 9A on operations, liquidity, and capital resources disclosures related to the virus. Disclosure Guidance Topic No. 9A supplements the previously issued Topic No. 9 (see HERE) and follows the SEC’s virtual Investor Advisory Committee (“IAC”) meeting where investors testified as to additional information that should be relayed to the capital markets by public companies (see HERE).
OCA Statement on Financial Reporting
On April 3, 2020, the SEC Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA) made its first public statement on the importance of high-quality financial reporting for investors in light of Covid-19. At that time, many companies were in the process of preparing Q1 results and reports. Now that Q2 is coming to a
NASDAQ Provides Additional Relief To Shareholder Approval Requirements For Companies Affected By Covid-19
Nasdaq has provided additional relief to listed companies through temporary rule 5636T easing shareholder approval requirements for the issuance of shares in a capital raise. The rule was effective May 4, 2020 and will continue through and including June 30, 2020. The purpose of the rule change is to give listed companies affected by Covid-19 quicker access to much-needed capital.
Temporary Rule 5636T is limited to the transactions and shareholder approval requirements specifically stated in the rule. If shareholder approval is required based on another rule, such as a change of control, or another Nasdaq rule is implicated, those other rules will need to be complied with prior to an issuance of securities.
The Nasdaq shareholder approval rules generally require companies to obtain approval from shareholders prior to issuing securities in connection with: (i) certain acquisitions of the stock or assets of another company (see HERE); (ii) equity-based compensation of officers, directors, employees or consultants (see HERE); (iii)
In addition to the SEC, the various trading markets, including the Nasdaq, NYSE and OTC Markets are providing relief to trading companies that are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.
The NYSE has taken a more formal approach to relief for listed companies. On March 20, 2020 and again on April 6, 2020 the NYSE filed a notice and immediate effectiveness of proposed rule changes to provide relief from the continued listing market cap requirements and certain shareholder approval requirements.
Recognizing the extremely high level of market volatility as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the NYSE has temporarily suspended until June 30, 2020 its continued listing requirement that companies must maintain an average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30-trading-day period of at least $15 million. Likewise, the NYSE is suspending the requirement that a listed company maintain a minimum trading price of $1.00 or more over a consecutive 30-trading-day period,