The concept of affiliation resonates throughout the federal securities laws, including pertaining to both the Securities Act and Exchange Act rules, regulations and forms and Nasdaq and NYSE compliance. In this multipart series of blogs, I will unpack what the term “affiliate” means and its implications. This first blog in the series began with an analysis of the Securities Act definition of “affiliate” and the implications under Rule 144, Section 4(a)(7) and Form S-3 eligibility (see HERE). In this Part 2 of the series, I am delving into the meaty topic of a primary vs. secondary offering, which itself hinges on whether the offeror is an affiliate.
Secondary/Resale Offerings vs. Primary Offerings
A secondary offering is an offering made by or on behalf of bona fide selling shareholders and not by or on behalf of the registrant company. A secondary offering can only occur after a company is public. That is, even if a company goes public
On March 30, 2022, the SEC proposed rules enhancing disclosure requirements associated with SPAC initial public offerings (IPOs) and de-SPAC merger transactions; requiring that a private operating company be a co-registrant when a SPAC files an S-4 or F-4 registration statement associated with a business combination; requiring a re-determination of smaller reporting company status within four days following the consummation of a de-SPAC transaction; amending the definition of a “blank check company” to make the liability safe harbor in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for forward-looking statement such as projections, unavailable in filings by SPACs and other blank check companies; and deeming underwriters in a SPAC IPO to be underwriters in a de-SPAC transaction when certain conditions are met.
The proposed rules would require specialized disclosure with respect to compensation paid to sponsors, conflicts of interest, dilution and the fairness of business combination transactions. Further disclosures will also be required in connection with the use of
I’ve written several times about the need for Covid-19 disclosures including public statements by Chair Clayton and William Hinman, the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and the SEC Division of Corporation Finance Disclosure Guidance Topic No. 9 regarding the SEC’s current views on disclosures that companies should consider with respect to COVID-19. For my summary blog on the topic, see HERE.
As I’ve previously mentioned, my personal thought is that although there are many reasons why disclosure is important, it is especially important now to support investor confidence, activity in our markets and capital raising efforts. If investors are kept informed of the impact of COVID-19 on companies, see that these companies are continuing on and meeting their requirements and that the markets haven’t just fallen into Neverland, they will continue to invest through the trading of securities, and direct investments through PIPE transactions. Further on the broader economic level, transparency and information will bolster confidence on
Introduction and Background
On September 26, 2016, and again on the 27th, the SEC brought enforcement actions against issuers for the failure to file 8-K’s associated with corporate finance transactions and in particular PIPE transactions involving the issuance of convertible debt, preferred equity, warrants and similar instruments. Prior to the release of these two actions, I have been hearing rumors in the industry that the SEC has issued “hundreds” of subpoenas (likely an exaggeration) to issuers related to PIPE transactions and in particular to determine 8-K filing deficiencies. Using this as a backdrop, this blog will also address Form 8-K filing requirements in general.
Back in August 2014, the SEC did a similar sweep related to 8-K filing failures associated with 3(a)(10) transactions. See my blog HERE for a discussion of those actions and 3(a)(10) proceedings in general. The 8-K filing deficiency actions were a precursor to a larger SEC investigation on 3(a)(10) transactions themselves which culminated in two well-known
In October 2015, the SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis issued a white paper study on unregistered securities offerings from 2009 through 2014 (the “Report”). The Report provides insight into what is working in the private placement market and has been on my radar as a blog since its release, but with so many pressing, timely topics to write about, I am only now getting to this one. The SEC Report is only through 2014; however, at the end of this blog, I have provided supplemental information from another source related to PIPE (private placements into public equity) transactions in 2015.
Private offerings are the largest segment of capital formation in the U.S. markets. In 2014 private offerings raised more than $2 trillion. The SEC study used information collected from Form D filings to provide insight into the offering characteristics, including types of issuers, investors and financial intermediaries that participate in offerings. The Report focuses on Regulation D offerings
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.
A PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) transaction is typically a private placement of equity or equity-linked securities by a public company to accredited investors that is followed by the registration of the resale of those securities with the SEC. Generally the securities are sold at a discount to market price. A traditional PIPE generally involves a fixed number of securities at a fixed price, with the closing conditioned only on the effectiveness of a resale registration statement. Any transaction that does not fall within this parameter is considered non-traditional and the structure can vary widely, including for example price variables (such as a death spiral), warrants and options, convertible securities and equity line transactions.
Traditional PIPE Transactions
In particular, a traditional PIPE is generally a set number of securities at a set price (which may be a discount to market at the time of close) and is conditioned only upon the effectiveness of a re-sale registration statement. A traditional
In a typical “equity line” financing arrangement, an investor and an Issuer enter into a written agreement whereby the Issuer has the right to “put” its securities to the investor. That is, the Issuer has the right to tell the investor when to buy securities from the Issuer over a set period of time and the investor has no right to decline to purchase the securities (or a limited right to decline). Generally the dollar value of the equity line is set in the written agreement, but the number of securities varies based on a formula tied to the market price of the securities at the time of each “put”.
Similar to PIPE Transactions
Most equity line financing arrangements are similar to a PIPE (private investment into public entity) transaction such that the Issuer relies on the private placement exemption from registration to sell the securities under the equity line and then files a registration statement for the re-sale of