As 2023 has come to a close it is time to prepare for the upcoming annual report season and this year there are multiple new requirements to be cognizant of. With annual reports being followed by proxies and first quarter 10-Q’s in rapid succession, it is important to get ahead of all the new disclosures. This blog will summarize each of the new disclosures and include some practice tips.
First, though is what is suddenly not a new requirement and in particular the share repurchase disclosures. Adopted on May 3, 2023 (see HERE) the new disclosure requirements would have taken effect for inclusion in the upcoming 10-K season. Following a successful court challenge, on November 22, 2023, the SEC issued an order postponing the effective date of the new rules pending further SEC action (see HERE). However, the SEC may not get the opportunity to resurrect the rules. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is doubling down and
On August 25, 2023, the SEC published five new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) on the recently effective Rule 10b5-1 amendments. The new rules were adopted on December 14, 2022 (see HERE) to enhance disclosure requirements and investor protections against insider trading. The amendments include updates to Rule 10b5-1(c)(1), which provides an affirmative defense to insider trading liability under Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5. This is the second time the SEC has published guidance on the rules having issued three C&DI in May – see HERE.
The rule amendments updated the conditions to satisfy the 10b5-1 affirmative defense, including adding cooling-off periods before trading can commence under a Rule 10b5-1 plan and a condition that all persons entering into a Rule 10b5-1 plan must act in good faith with respect to the plan. The amendments also require directors and officers to include representations in their plans certifying at the time of the adoption of
Over the years I’ve noted that information required pursuant to various disclosure obligations, or new or amended rules, may be “furnished” versus “filed” with the SEC, but I realize in a “let’s get back to basics” moment, I have not yet (until now) provided a detailed explanation of what that means. In summary, information that is “filed” with the SEC carries Section 18 liability, only “filed” information can be incorporated by reference into other filings, such as an S-3 registration statement, and only “filed” SEC reports affect S-3 eligibility.
Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) imposes liability on any person that makes or causes to be made any statement in any application, report or document “filed” pursuant to the Exchange Act or any rule thereunder which statement was at the time and in the light of the circumstances under which it was made false or misleading with
On March 24, 2021, the SEC adopted interim final amendments to implement the congressionally mandated submission and disclosure requirements of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCA Act). Following adoption of the HFCA, on July 30, 2021, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler issued a statement warning of risks associated with investing in companies based in China. Although the statement has a different angle, it joins the core continued concerns of the SEC top brass and Nasdaq expressed over the years.
In June 2020 Nasdaq published proposed rules which would make it more difficult for a company to list or continue to list based on the quality of its audit, which could have a direct effect on companies based in China (see HERE). In September 2020, the SEC instituted proceedings as to whether to approve or deny the proposed rule change. As of the date of this blog, the proposal has not been ruled upon by the SEC.
The recent amendments to Items 101, 103 and 105 of Regulation S-K (see HERE) went into effect on November 9, 2020, raising many questions as to the transition to the new requirements. In response to what I am sure were many inquiries to the Division of Corporation Finance, the SEC has issued three transitional FAQs.
The amendments made changes to Item 101 – description of business, Item 103 – legal proceedings, and Item 105 – Risk Factors of Regulation S-K.
FAQ – Form S-3 Prospectus Supplement
The first question relates to the impact on Form S-3 and in particular the current use of prospectus supplements for an S-3 that went into effect prior to November 9, 2020. In general, a Form S-3 is used as a shelf registration statement and a company files a prospectus supplement each time it takes shares down off that shelf (see HERE).
The prospectus supplement must meet the requirements of Securities Act Rule
Just eight months following the rule proposal (see HERE), on August 26, 2020, the SEC adopted final amendments to Item 101 – description of business, Item 103 – legal proceedings, and Item 105 – Risk Factors of Regulation S-K. The amendments make a more principles-based approach to business descriptions and risk factors, recognizing the significant changes in business models since the rule was adopted 30 years ago. The amendments to disclosures related to legal proceedings continue the current prescriptive approach. In addition, the rule changes are intended to improve the readability of disclosure documents, as well as discourage repetition and disclosure of information that is not material.
The Item 101 and Item 103 amendments only apply to domestic companies and foreign private issuer that elect to file using domestic company forms. The forms generally used by foreign private issuers (F-1, F-3, 20-F, etc.) do not have references to Items 101 and 103 of Regulation S-K but rather refer
The SEC has issued FAQ on Covid-19 issues, including the impact on S-3 shelf registration statements. The SEC issued 4 questions and answers consisting of one question related to disclosure and three questions related to S-3 shelf registrations.
Confirming prior guidance, the SEC FAQ sets forth the required disclosures in the Form 8-K or 6-K filed by a company to take advantage of a Covid-19 extension for the filing of periodic reports. In particular, in the Form 8-K or Form 6-K, the company must disclose (i) that it is relying on the COVID-19 Order (for more information on the Order, see HERE); (ii) a brief description of the reasons why the company could not file the subject report, schedule or form on a timely basis; (iii) the estimated date by which the report, schedule or form is expected to be filed; and (iv) a company-specific risk factor or factors explaining the impact, if material, of
In December 2018, the SEC approved final rules to require companies to disclose practices or policies regarding the ability of employees or directors to engage in certain hedging transactions, in proxy and information statements for the election of directors. The new rules implement Section 14(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) as mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act and will require the robust disclosure on hedging policies and practices including a description of any hedging transactions that are specifically permitted or disallowed. The proposed rules had initially been published on February 9, 2015 – see HERE.
Smaller reporting companies and emerging growth companies must comply with the new disclosure requirements in their proxy and information statements during fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2020. All other companies must comply in fiscal years beginning July 1, 2019. As foreign private issuers (FPI) are not subject to the proxy statement requirements under Section 14 of the Exchange Act,
On December 8, 2016, the SEC issued 35 new compliance and disclosure interpretations (C&DI) including five related to the use of Form 20-F by foreign private issuers and seven related to the definition of a foreign private issuer.
C&DI Related to use of Form 20-F
In the first of the five new C&DI, the SEC confirms that under certain circumstances the subsidiary of a foreign private issuer may use an F-series registration statement to register securities that are guaranteed by the parent company, even if the subsidiary itself does not qualify as a foreign private issuer. In addition, the subsidiary may use Form 20-F for its annual report. To qualify, the parent and subsidiary must file consolidated financial statements or be eligible to present narrative disclosure under Rule 3-10 of Regulation S-X.
Changes In India’s Laws Related To Foreign Direct Investments- A U.S. Opportunity; Brief Overview For Foreign Private Issuers
In June 2016, the Indian government announced new rules allowing for foreign direct investments into Indian owned and domiciled companies. The new rules continue a trend in laws supporting India as an open world economy. A large portion of the U.S. public marketplace is actually the trading of securities of foreign owned or held businesses. Foreign businesses may register and trade directly on U.S. public markets as foreign private issuers, or they may operate as partial or wholly owned subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies that in turn quote and trade on either the OTC Markets or a U.S. exchange.
Brief Overview for Foreign Private Issuers
Definition of Foreign Private Issuer
Both the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) contain definitions of a “foreign private issuer.” Generally, if a company does not meet the definition of a foreign private issuer, it is subject to the same registration and