M&A Broker Dealer Registration
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed H.R. 2617, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (“Appropriations Act”) into law. As sometimes happens in these voluminous bills, a nugget affecting our industry is buried. After about 2,600 pages of text we get to Title V – Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales and Brokerage Simplification. This short provision codifies into law 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”). Previously the industry has been relying on a no-action letter issued by the SEC Division of Trading and Markets on January 31, 2014, for liability protection involving these transactions (see HERE).
Section 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) requires securities brokers to register with the SEC and Section 15(b) prescribes the manner of registration. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act defines a “broker” as “any person engaged in the business
Florida Broker-Dealer Registration Exemption For M&A Brokers
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