The SEC Has Adopted Final Amendments To Rule 15C2-11; Major Change For OTC Markets Companies
Despite an unusual abundance of comments and push-back, on September 16, 2020, one year after issuing proposed rules (see HERE), the SEC has adopted final rules amending Securities Exchange Act (“Exchange Act”) Rule 15c2-11. The primary purpose of the rule amendment is to enhance retail protection where there is little or no current and publicly available information about a company and as such, it is difficult for an investor or other market participant to evaluate the company and the risks involved in purchasing or selling its securities. The SEC believes the final amendments will preserve the integrity of the OTC market, and promote capital formation for issuers that provide current and publicly available information to investors.
From a high level, the amended rule will require that a company have current and publicly available information as a precondition for a broker-dealer to either initiate or continue to quote its securities; will narrow reliance on certain of the rules
OTC Markets Makes Several Regulatory Recommendations
On March 8, 2018, Cromwell Coulson, CEO of OTC Markets Group, made a presentation to the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee (“IAC”) as part of a panel on “Discussion of Regulatory Approaches to Combat Retail Investor Fraud.” During the meeting, Mr. Coulson discussed the most serious market risks and presented a list of 14 OTC Market’s regulatory recommendations to improve disclosure and combat these market risks.
A review of OTC Markets website on April 24, 2018 shows 10,469 traded securities, $1.1 billion volume, 7.2 billion share volume and 174,268 trades. In his remarks to the IAC, Mr. Coulson points out that 98% of the traded dollar volume of companies on OTC Markets make current information available. Echoing the SEC’s “Main Street investor” focus, he states that “[W]e have many stocks on our markets that are completely appropriate to be part of a diversified, long term, investment portfolio, of a main street investor; we also have speculative securities that are only
OTC Markets Issues Comment Letters On FINRA Rules 6432 And 5250; The 15c2-11 Rules
January 8, 2018, OTC Markets Group, Inc. (“OTC Markets”) submitted a comment letter to FINRA related to FINRA Rule 6432. Rule 6432 requires that a market maker or broker-dealer have the information specified in Securities Exchange Act Rule 15c2-11 before making a quotation in a security on the over-the-counter market. Although I summarize the salient points of the OTC Markets comment letter, I encourage those interested to read the entire letter, which contains an in-depth analysis and comprehensive arguments to support its position. On February 8, 2018, OTC Markets submitted a second comment letter to FINRA, this one related to FINRA Rule 5250. Rule 5250 prohibits companies from compensating market makers in connection with the preparation and filing of a Form 211 application.
Rule 6432 – Compliance with the Information Requirements of SEA Rule 15c2-11
Subject to certain exceptions, including the “piggyback exception” discussed below, Rule 6432 requires that all broker-dealers have and maintain certain information on a
OTC Markets Amends IPO Listing Standards for OTCQX
OTC Markets has unveiled changes to the quotations rule and standards for the OTCQX, which proposed changes are scheduled to become effective on June 13, 2016. The proposed amendments are intended to address and accommodate companies completing an IPO onto the OTCQX and which accordingly have no prior trading history. Such entities either would have a recently cleared Form 211 with FINRA or are completing the 211 application process through a market maker, at the time of their OTCQX application. The initial qualification changes apply to OTCQX Rules for U.S. Companies, U.S. Banks and International Companies.
The OTCQX previously amended its listing standards effective January 1, 2016 to increase the quantitative criteria for listing and to add additional qualitative requirements further aligning the OTCQX with a national stock exchange. To read my blog on the January 1, 2016 amendments see HERE.
The new amendments will (i) allow companies that meet the $5 bid price test to use unaudited, interim