On January 23, 2019, biotechnology company Gossamer Bio, Inc., filed an amended S-1 pricing its $230 million initial public offering, taking advantage of a rarely used SEC Rule that will allow the S-1 to go effective, and the IPO to be completed, 20 days from filing, without action by the SEC. Since the government shutdown, several companies have opted to proceed with the effectiveness of a registration statement for a follow-on offering without SEC review or approval, but this marks the first full IPO, and certainly the first of any significant size. The Gossamer IPO is being underwritten by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SVB Leerink, Barclays and Evercore ISI. On January 24, 2019, Nasdaq issued five FAQ addressing their position on listing companies utilizing Section 8(a). Although the SEC has recommenced full operations as of today, there has non-the-less been a transformation in the methods used to access capital markets, and the use of 8(a) is just
In a much talked about speech to the Economic Club of New York on July 12, 2017, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton set forth his thoughts on SEC policy, including a list of guiding principles for his tenure. Chair Clayton’s underlying theme is the furtherance of opportunities and protection of Main Street investors, a welcome viewpoint from the securities markets’ top regulator. This was Chair Clayton’s first public speech in his new role and follows Commissioner Michael Piwowar’s recent remarks to the SEC-NYU Dialogue on Securities Market Regulation largely related to the U.S. IPO market. For a summary of Commissioner Piwowar’s speech, read HERE.
Chair Clayton outlined a list of eight guiding principles for the SEC.
#1: The SEC’s Mission is its touchstone
As described by Chair Clayton, the SEC has a three part mission: (i) to protect investors; (ii) to maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets, and (iii) to facilitate capital formation. Chair Clayton stresses that it
Introduction and brief summary of the rule
On March 22, 2017, the SEC adopted a rule amendment shortening the standard settlement cycle for broker-initiated trade settlements from three business days from the trade date (T+3) to two business days (T+2). The change is designed to help enhance efficiency and reduce risks, including credit, market and liquidity risks, associated with unsettled transactions in the marketplace.
Acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar stated, “[A]s technology improves, new products emerge, and trading volumes grow, it is increasingly obvious that the outdated T+3 settlement cycle is no longer serving the best interests of the American people.” The SEC originally proposed the rule amendment on September 28, 2016. My blog on the proposal can be read HERE. In addition, for more information on the clearance and settlement process for U.S. capital markets, see HERE.
On September 28, 2016, the SEC proposed a rule amendment to shorten the standard broker-initiated trade settlement cycle from three business days from the trade date (T+3) to two business days (T+2). The change is designed to help reduce risks, including credit, market and liquidity risks, associated with unsettled transactions in the marketplace. Outgoing SEC Chair, Mary Jo White was quoted as saying that the change “is an important step to the SEC’s ongoing efforts to enhance the resiliency and efficiency of the U.S. clearance and settlement system.” I have previously written about the clearance and settlement process for U.S. capital markets, which can be reviewed HERE.
DTC provides the depository and book entry settlement services for substantially all equity trading in the US. Over $600 billion in transactions are completed at DTC each day. Although all similar, the exact clearance and settlement process depends on the type of security being traded (stock, bond, etc.), the form the
On June 3, 2016, the DTC filed a new set of proposed rules to specify procedures available to issuers when the DTC imposes or intends to impose chills or locks. The issue of persistent and increasing chills and global locks which once dominated many discussions related to the small- and micro-cap space has dwindled in the last year or two. The new proposed rule release explains the change in DTC procedures and mindset related to its function in combating the deposit and trading of ineligible securities.
On October 8, 2013, I published a blog and white paper providing background and information on the Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) eligibility, chills and locks and the DTC’s then plans to propose new rules to specify procedures available to issuers when the DTC imposes or intends to impose chills or locks (see my blog HERE). On December 5, 2013, the DTC filed these proposed rules with the SEC and on December 18,
Within the world of securities there are many sectors and facets to explore and understand. To be successful, a public company must have an active, liquid trading market. Accordingly, the trading markets themselves, including the settlement and clearing process in the US markets, is an important fundamental area of knowledge that every public company, potential public company, and advisor needs to comprehend. A basic understanding of the trading markets will help drive relationships with transfer agents, market makers, broker-dealers and financial public relations firms as well as provide the knowledge to improve relationships with shareholders. In addition, small pooled funds such as venture and hedge funds and family offices that invest in public markets will benefit from an understanding of the process.
This blog provides a historical foundation and summary of the clearance and settlement processes for US equities markets. In a future blog, I will drill down into specific trading, including short selling.
History and Background
The Paperwork Crisis
One of the largest areas of my firms practice involves going public transactions. I have written extensively on the various going public methods, including IPO/DPOs and reverse mergers. The topic never loses relevancy, and those considering a transaction always ask about the differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, both reverse mergers and direct and initial public offerings. This blog is an updated new edition of past articles on the topic.
Over the past decade the small-cap reverse merger, initial public offering (IPO) and direct public offering (DPO) markets diminished greatly. The decline was a result of both regulatory changes and economic changes. In particular, briefly, those reasons were: (1) the recent Great Recession; (2) backlash from a series of fraud allegations, SEC enforcement actions, and trading suspensions of Chinese companies following reverse mergers; (3) the 2008 Rule 144 amendments, including the prohibition of use of the rule for shell company and former shell company shareholders; (4) problems
On March 2, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended the trading in 128 dormant shell companies trading on the OTC Link. The SEC suspended the trading in these shell companies because of questions regarding the accuracy and adequacy of publicly disseminated information concerning the companies’ operating status, if any.
The SEC notes in its release that OTC Markets had been unable to contact each of the issuers for more than one year. None of the subject issuers had filed any information or updated with either OTC Markets or the SEC in over a year. The SEC staff then independently attempted to contact the issuers and was able to contact 10 of the 128 companies and confirm from those ten that they had either ceased operations or gone private.
The trading suspensions are part of an SEC initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group. As part of the initiative, the SEC Enforcement Division’s Office of
CUSIP stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. A CUSIP number identifies securities, specifically U.S. and Canadian registered stocks, and U.S. government and municipal bonds. The CUSIP system—owned by the American Bankers Association and operated by Standard & Poor’s—facilitates the clearing and settlement process of securities by giving each such security a unique identifying number.
The CUSIP number consists of a combination of nine characters, both letters and numbers, which act as individual coding for the security—uniquely identifying the company or issuer and the type of security. The first six characters identify the issuer and are alphabetical; the seventh and eighth characters, which can be alphabetical or numerical, identify the type of issue; and the last digit is used as a check digit. A CUSIP number changes with each change in the security, including splits and name changes.
Whereas CUSIP identifies securities, a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) identifies issuers. An LEI is a new global standard identifier for
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today suspended the trading in 61 dormant shell companies. The trading suspensions are part of an SEC initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group. In May 2012, the SEC suspended the trading on 379 shell companies as part of the initiative. Each of the companies were dormant shells that were not current in public disclosures. 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 to file a