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 May 6, 2015 the SEC approved a two-year pilot program with FINRA and the national securities exchanges that will widen the minimum quoting and trading increments, commonly referred to as tick sizes, for the stocks of smaller public companies. The goal of the program is to study whether wider tick sizes improve the market quality and trading of these stocks.
The basic premise is that if a tick size is wider, the spread will be bigger, and thus market makers and underwriters will have the ability to earn a larger profit on trading. If market makers and underwriters can earn larger profits on trading, they will have incentive to make markets, support liquidity and issue research on smaller public companies. The other side of the coin is that larger spreads and more profit for the traders equates to increased costs to the investors whose accounts are being traded.
As the economy has been gaining strength, so have the number of entrepreneurs seeking private equity investments through pre-packaged structured private placement offerings, and negotiated venture and angel capital sources. A question that arises almost daily in my practice is how to determine a valuation for a development stage or start-up venture. Determining a valuation is instrumental to answering the overriding questions of what percentage of a company is being sold and at what price.
For business entities with operating history, revenue, profit margins and the like, valuation is determined by mathematical calculations and established mathematically based matrixes. For a development stage or start-up venture, the necessary elements to complete a mathematical analysis simply do not exist.
In the case of a pre-packaged private placement offering for a development stage or start up venture, valuation is an arbitrary guess, a best estimate. In the case of a negotiated investment with a venture capital or angel
SEC Grants Accelerated Approval to FINRA Rule Amendment Regarding Minimum Quotation Size Requirements for OTC Equity Securities
On June 15, 2012, the SEC granted accelerated approval to an amendment to FINRA rule 6433 related to the minimum quotation size for OTC equity securities. Rule 6433 applies to all market makers. Rule 6433 sets forth the specific minimum quotation size requirements in tiers that are based on the price of the OTC equity security being quoted by the market maker. In addition, the rule change will require market makers to publish customer limit orders.
The new rule amends and lowers the current 9 tier quotation size requirements to 6 tiers as follows:
- $175.00 per share and above, the minimum quotation size would be 1 share;
- $1.00 through $174.99 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 100 shares;
- $0.51 through $0.9999 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 1,000 shares;
- $0.20 through $0.5099 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 2,500 shares;
- $0.10 through $0.1999 per share, the minimum quotation size would be 5,000 shares;
The CFIRA (Crowdfund Intermediaries Regulatory Advocates) was established by crowdfunding industry professionals for the purpose of working with the SEC and FINRA on establishing and maintaining crowdfunding rules and industry practices. As I blogged in the past, I believed at one point, based on news and information released from the CFIRA, that the CFIRA intended to become a self regulatory organization (SRO) and register with the SEC under Section 15A. As of today, it appears that the CFIRA is still working towards the goal of becoming an SRO. In any event, I expect that the CFIRA will be an active participant in the crowdfunding industry and invaluable source of input and information.
CFIRA and the SEC
On May 15, 2012, the CFIRA submitted a comment letter to the SEC regarding the pending Crowdfunding regulations. The comment letter specifically addressed issues regarding how the general solicitation rules will interact with social media and the internet. The letter addressed the general solicitation
On April 5, 2012 President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. In my excitement over this ground-breaking new law, I have been zealously blogging about the Crowdfunding portion of the JOBS Act. However, the JOBS Act impacts securities laws in many additional ways. The following is a summary of the many ways the JOBS Act will amend current securities regulations, all in ways to support small businesses.
A. The New “Emerging Growth Company” Category
The JOBS Act will create a new category of companies defined as “Emerging Growth Companies” (EGC). An EGC will be defined as a company with annual gross revenues of less than $1 billion, that has been public and reporting for a minimum of five years and whose non-affiliated public float is valued at less than $700 million. EGC’s will have reduced requirements associated with initial public offerings (IPO’s) and ongoing reporting requirements. For many purposes, EGC’s will be allowed to use the less
A promissory note is a written promise by a person, persons or entity to pay a specific amount of money (called “principal”) to another, usually to include a specified amount of interest on the unpaid principal amount. In addition, a promissory note will include the basic specifics of the debt, including full names of both debtor and creditor and an address for making payments. The specified time of payment may be written as: a) whenever there is a demand, b) on a specific date, c) in installments with or without the interest included in each installment, d) installments with a final larger amount (balloon payment). In the event that the written note does not include language specifying the time of payment, the law assumes it is payable on demand by the creditor.
Terms of Payment
A promissory note may contain other terms such as the right of the promisee to order payment be made to another person, security or collateral,
This article continues my series on obligations (and rights and responsibilities) of the board of directors during a merger and acquisition transaction. The last in the series discussed a director’s duty of loyalty. This blog continues that discussion, focusing on the duty in particular fact circumstances.
Balancing Common and Preferred Shares
A common question I am asked by directors is how to balance the interest of two competing classes of stock (such as common and preferred). In such a case, the entire fairness standard of reviewing a corporate transaction (discussed in last blog) will not automatically be invoked, but first the court will utilize the business judgment rule. Accordingly, a director who is not conflicted and who otherwise takes all measures required (in-depth involvement in the process, review of all documents, advice of outside professionals, seeking highest price for all classes of stock) will be protected from liability.
Directors’ Financial Motivation
This article continues my series on obligations (and rights and responsibilities) of the board of directors during a merger and/or acquisition transaction. The first in the series detailed the directors’ basic duties of care, loyalty and disclosure. The second discussed the availability of indemnification and/or exculpation and the importance of acting in good faith. This third blog in the series will take a more in-depth look at a directors’ duty of loyalty in a merger and acquisition transaction.
Duty of Loyalty
The duty of loyalty demands that there be no conflict between the director’s duty to the company and their own self-interest. A director breaches that duty when he appropriates a corporate asset or opportunity or uses his corporate office to promote, advance or effectuate a transaction between the corporation and himself or a related party which isn’t entirely fair to the corporation.
Business Judgment Rule
The business judgment rule will not protect a director where there is a
This blog continues my series on obligations (and rights and responsibilities) of the board of directors during a merger and/or acquisition transaction. The first in the series went over the directors basic duties of care, loyalty and disclosure.
Indemnification of Corporate Officers
Many states’ corporate laws allow entities to include provisions in their corporate charters allowing for the exculpation and/or indemnification of directors. Exculpation refers to a complete elimination of liability whereas indemnification allows for the reimbursement of expenses incurred by an officer or director.
Delaware, for example, allows for the inclusion of a provision in the certificate of incorporation eliminating personal liability for directors in stockholder actions for breaches of fiduciary duty, except for breaches of the duty of loyalty that result in personal benefit for the director to the detriment of the shareholders. Indemnification generally is only available where the director has acted in good faith. Exculpation is generally only available to directors whereas indemnification is available