Following the SEC’s lead, effective July 1, 2016, Florida has passed a statutory exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for entities effecting securities transactions in connection with the sale of equity control in private operating businesses (“M&A Broker”). As discussed further below, the new Florida statute, together with the SEC M&A Broker exemption, may have paved the way for Florida residents to act as an M&A broker in reverse or forward merger transactions involving OTCQX-traded public companies without broker-dealer registration.
Florida has historically had stringent broker-dealer registration requirements in connection with the offer and sale of securities. Moreover, Florida does not always mirror the federal registration requirements or exemptions. For example, see my blog HERE detailing some state blue sky concerns when dealing with Florida, including the lack of an issuer exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements for public offerings.
However, in a move helpful to merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in the state, Florida has now passed an M&A
When forming a new entity, I am often asked the best state of domicile. Following a July 1, 2014 increase in Delaware franchise taxes, I am also often asked the best state to re-domicile or move to following an exit from Delaware. Delaware remains the gold standard; however, there has been a definite shift and Delaware is now not the “only standard.”
Part of the reason for the shift away from Delaware has been the increase in fees. Delaware calculates annual fees based on one of two methods: (i) the authorized share method; and (ii) the assume par value capital (asset value) method. For either method the annual fee is capped at $180,000.00. Even for small- and micro-cap business issuers, the annual fee often reaches the tens of thousands. For example, a company with 300,000,000 common shares authorized with a $.001 par value per share and 30,000,000 shares issued and outstanding and $20,000,000 in gross assets would pay $180,000.00 per
I have often written about state blue sky compliance and issues in completing offerings that do not pre-empt state law, including Tier 1 of Regulation A+ and initial or direct public offerings on Form S-1. I’ve also often expressed my opinion that the SEC, together with FINRA, is best suited to govern most securities-related registrations and exemptions, including both for offerings and broker-dealer matters, and that the states should be more focused on state-specific registrations and exemptions (such as intrastate offerings) and investigation and enforcement with respect to fraud or deceit, or unlawful conduct.
Despite the SEC support for the NASAA-coordinated review program to simplify the state blue sky process for securities offerings, such as under Tier 1 of Regulation A+, only 43 states participate. I say “only” in this context because the holdouts – including, for example, Florida, New York, Arizona and Georgia – are extremely active states for small business development and private capital formation. Moreover, even