The integration doctrine prevents issuers from circumventing the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1934 by determining whether two or more securities offerings are really one offering that does not qualify as an exempt offering, or an exempt offering is really part of a registered public offering.
Securities Act Release No. 33-4552 (November 6, 1962) sets forth a five factor test that is used as a guideline in determining whether the separate offerings of an issuer that occur within a short time of one another will be integrated. These same factors are set forth in the Note to Rule 502(a) of Regulation D, which factors address whether the offerings:
- are part of a single plan of financing;
- involve the issuance of the same class of securities (convertible securities, warrants, and other
- derivative instruments generally are deemed to be the same class as the underlying security unless the terms of the primary security prohibit exercises until at least the one
Without fanfare, publications, or other notice, in mid 2006, PIPE investors and the Issuers that utilized them noticed a big difference in the way that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) division of corporate finance reviewed and commented upon, resale registration statements. Although the SEC staff contended that its position on Rule 415 had not changed, there was, incontrovertibly, a dramatic impact felt by Issuers and PIPE investors.
For years, Issuers had relied upon Rule 415 in order to register the resale of shares issued in PIPE transactions (a “secondary offering”). Rule 415 governs the registration requirements for the sale of securities to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis, such as in the case of the take down or conversion of convertible debt and warrants. In the years prior to 2006, Issuers would register shares they sold in a PIPE transaction, which could represent in excess of 50% of their outstanding public float.
Convertible Debt and Subsequent Resale