As the strongest U.S. IPO market in decades continues unabated, it seems a good time to talk about underwriter’s compensation. FINRA Rule 5110 (Corporate Financing Rule – Underwriting Terms and Arrangements) governs the compensation that may be received by an underwriter in connection with a public offering.
Rule 5110 – The “Corporate Financing Rule”
Rule 5110 regulates underwriting compensation and prohibits unfair arrangements in connection with the public offerings of securities. The Rule prohibits member firms from participating in a public offering of securities if the underwriting terms and conditions, including compensation, are unfair as defined by FINRA. The Rule requires FINRA members to make filings with FINRA disclosing information about offerings they participate in, including the amount of all compensation to be received by the firm or its principals, and affiliations and relationships that could result in the existence of a conflict of interest. As more fully described herein, underwriter’s compensation is subject to lock-up provisions.
On November 2, 2020, the SEC adopted final rule changes to harmonize, simplify and improve the exempt offering framework. The new rules go into effect on March 14, 2021. The 388-page rule release provides a comprehensive overhaul to the exempt offering and integration rules worthy of in-depth discussion. As such, like the proposed rules, I am breaking it down over a series of blogs with this second blog discussing offering communications including new rules related to demo days and generic testing the waters. The first blog in the series discussed the new integration rules (see HERE).
The Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) requires that every offer and sale of securities either be registered with the SEC or exempt from registration. The purpose of registration is to provide investors with full and fair disclosure of material information so that they are able to make their own informed investment and voting decisions.
Offering exemptions are found in Sections 3
On March 4, 2020, the SEC published proposed rule changes to harmonize, simplify and improve the exempt offering framework. The SEC had originally issued a concept release and request for public comment on the subject in June 2019 (see HERE). The proposed rule changes indicate that the SEC has been listening to capital markets participants and is supporting increased access to private offerings for both businesses and a larger class of investors. Together with the proposed amendments to the accredited investor definition (see HERE), the new rules could have as much of an impact on the capital markets as the JOBS Act has had since its enactment in 2012.
The 341-page rule release provides a comprehensive overhaul to the exempt offering and integration rules worthy of in-depth discussion. I have been breaking the information down into a series of blogs, with this fourth blog focusing on amendments to Regulation A other than integration and offering communications which
On September 14, 2017, the SEC issued three new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) to provide guidance related to the filing of a Form 8-A in conjunction with a Tier 2 Regulation A offering. The new guidance addresses the timing of financial statements and subsequent reporting requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”).
Furthermore, earlier in September, the House passed the Improving Access to Capital Act, which would allow companies subject to the reporting requirements under the Exchange Act to use Regulation A, a change the entire marketplace is advocating for.
As I do with each blog on Regulation A, I have included an ongoing commentary, practice tips, and thoughts on Regulation A+, and a summary of the Regulation A+ rules, including interpretations and guidance up to the date of this blog.
New CD&I Guidance
As a reminder, Tier 2 issuers that have used the S-1 format for their Form 1-A filing are permitted
On March 31, 2017, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued six new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) to provide guidance related to Regulation A/A+. Since the new Regulation A+ came into effect on June 19, 2015, its use has continued to steadily increase. In my practice it is the most popular method for a public offering under $50 million.
As an ongoing commentary on Regulation A+, following a discussion on the CD&I guidance, I have included practice tips, and thoughts on Regulation A+, and a summary of the Regulation A+ rules, including interpretations and guidance up to the date of this blog.
New CD&I Guidance
In the first of the new CD&I, the SEC clarifies the timing of the filing of a Form 8-A to register a class of securities under Section 12(b) or (g) of the Exchange Act. In particular, in order to be able to file a Form 8-A as part of the Regulation A+
On November 17, 2016, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued three new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) to provide guidance related to Regulation A/A+. Since the new Regulation A+ came into effect on June 19, 2015, its use has continued to steadily increase. In my practice alone I am noticing a large uptick in broker-dealer-placed Regulation A+ offerings, and recently, institutional investor interest.
Following a discussion on the CD&I guidance, I have included some interesting statistics, practice tips, and thoughts on Regulation A+, and a refresher summary of the Regulation A+ rules.
New CD&I Guidance
In the first of the new CD&I, the SEC has clarified that where a company seeks to qualify an additional class of securities via post-qualification amendment to a previously qualified Form 1-A, Item 4 of Part I, which requires “Summary Information Regarding the Offering and Other Current or Proposed Offerings,” need only include information related to the new class of securities seeking
On August 25, 2016, the SEC requested public comment on possible changes to the disclosure requirements in Subpart 400 of Regulation S-K. Subpart 400 encompasses disclosures related to management, certain security holders and corporate governance. The request for comment is part of the ongoing SEC Division of Corporation Finance’s Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative and as required by Section 72003 of the FAST Act.
The topic of disclosure requirements under Regulations S-K and S-X as pertains to financial statements and disclosures made in reports and registration statements filed under the Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) has come to the forefront over the past couple of years. The purpose of the Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative is to assess whether the business and financial disclosure requirements continue to provide the information investors need to make informed investment and voting decisions.
Regulation S-K, as amended over the years, was adopted as part of a uniform disclosure initiative
The JOBS Act enacted in 2012 made the most dramatic changes to the landscape for the marketing and selling of both private and public offerings since the enactment of the Securities Act of 1933. These significant changes include: (i) the creation of Rule 506(c), which came into effect on September 23, 2013 and allows for general solicitation and advertising in private offerings where the purchasers are limited to accredited investors; (ii) the overhaul of Regulation A creating two tiers of offerings, which came into effect on June 19, 2015 and allows for both pre-filing and post-filing marketing of an offering, called “testing the waters”; (iii) the addition of Section 5(d) of the Securities Act, which came into effect in April 2012, permitting emerging growth companies to test the waters by engaging in pre- and post-filing communications with qualified institutional buyers or institutions that are accredited investors; and (iv) Title III crowdfunding, which came into effect May 19, 2016 and allows
On March 25, 2015, the SEC released final rules amending Regulation A. The new rules are commonly referred to as Regulation A+. The existing Tier I Regulation A, which does not preempt state law, has been increased to $20 million and the new Tier 2, which does preempt state law, allows a raise of up to $50 million. Issuers may elect to proceed under either Tier I or Tier 2 for offerings up to $20 million. The new rules are expected to be effective on or near June 19, 2015.
On March 31, 2015, I published a blog with a high-level summary of the new rules. In this blog, I will give a deeper review of the entire new Regulation and then in future installments will drill down on different aspects of the new rules as such become relevant to this new offering regime.
Background on Rules
On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title
On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, commonly referred to as Regulation A+. The proposed rules both add the new Section 3(b)(2) (i.e., Regulation A+) provisions and modify the existing Regulation A. This blog is limited to a discussion of the new Regulation A+.
Title IV of the JOBS Act technically amends Section 3(b) of the Securities Act, which up to now has been a general provision allowing the SEC to fashion exemptions from registration, up to a total offering amount of $5,000,000. Regulation A is and has historically been an exemption created under the powers afforded the SEC by Section 3(b).
Technically speaking, Regulation D, Rule 504 and 505 offerings and Regulation A offerings are promulgated under Section 3(b), and Rule 506 is promulgated under Section 4(a)(2). This is important because federal law does not pre-empt state law for Section 3(b) offerings, but it does so for Section