Effective September, 2013, the SEC adopted final rules eliminating the prohibition against general solicitation and advertising in Rules 506 and 144A offerings as required by Title II of the JOBS Act. The enactment of new 506(c) resulting in the elimination of the prohibition against general solicitation and advertising in private offerings to accredited investors has been a slow but sure success. Trailblazers such as realtymogul.com, circleup.com, wefunder.com and seedinvest.com proved that the model can work, and the rest of the capital marketplace has taken notice. Recently, more established broker-dealers have begun their foray into the 506(c) marketplace with accredited investor-only crowdfunding websites accompanied by marketing and solicitation to draw investors.
The historical Rule 506 was renumbered to Rule 506(b) and issuers have the option of completing offerings under either Rule 506(b) or 506(c). Rule 506(b) allows offers and sales to an unlimited number of accredited investors and up to 35 unaccredited investors, provided however that if any unaccredited investors
SEC Issues Guidance Regarding The Exemption From Broker-Dealer Registration In Title II Of The JOBS Act
Title II of the JOBS Act, requires the SEC to amend Rule 506 of Regulation D to permit general solicitation and advertising in offerings under Rule 506, provided that all purchasers of the securities are accredited investors and such accredited status is reasonably verified by the Issuer.
In addition, Title II creates a limited exemption to the broker dealer registration requirements for certain intermediaries that facilitate these Rule 506 offerings. In particular, new Section 4(b) to the Securities Act of 1933, has added a new exemption to the broker dealer registration requirements for:
(A) a person that maintains a platform or mechanism that permits the offer, sale, purchase, or negotiation of or with respect to securities, permits general solicitations, general advertisements, or similar related activities by issuers of such securities, whether online, in person, or through any other means
(B) that person or any person associated with that person co-invests in such securities; or
(C) that person or any
NASDAQ acquires Sharepost
On Wednesday March 6, 2013, NASDAQ surprised the small cap and investment community when it announced it is acquiring Sharepost’s private company market place (PCMP) exchange and rebranding it the Nasdaq Private Exchange.
In December, 2011, I wrote a few blogs on PCMPs. A PCMP is a trading platform, such as SharePost or SecondMarket that provides a market place for illiquid restricted securities, such as private company securities, 144 stock, debt instruments, warrants, and the like or alternative assets. It is on a PCMP that pre-IPO Facebook, Groupon and LInkedin received their trading start. Following the IPO of these large entities, and in particular Facebook, traffic and use of PCMP sites declines, but NASDAQ clearly believes the decline is temporary, and I agree.
Private Company Market Places
Each PCMP offers a fully automated back office, documentation, escrow, transfer and settlement support. Users open trading accounts, like they would with any other broker dealer. The PCMP provider collects
Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as Amended (“Securities Act”) provides the statutory basis for private placement offerings. In particular, Section 4(2) exempts “transactions by an issuer not involving any public offering.” The key components of this statutory exemption are that the offering must be by the Issuer, not an affiliate, agent or third party, and that the transactions must not involve a public offering. In order to determine if there is a public offering, practitioners must consider Section 2(11) of the Securities Act which defines an underwriter. The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and courts limit the scope of Section 4(2) by preventing indirect public offerings by issuers and control persons through third parties. Accordingly, if an investor acts as a link in the chain of transactions resulting in securities being distributed to the public, they are an underwriter, and the exemption under Section 4(2) is not available.
The Ralston Purina Standard
The leading case interpreting Section
Section 4(6) provides a registration exemption for offerings to accredited investors, if the aggregate offering amounts up to the dollar limit of Section 3(b) (currently $5,000,000), if there is no advertising or public solicitation in connection with the transaction by the Issuer or anyone acting on the Issuer’s behalf.
The term accredited investor is defined in section 2(a)(15) and generally includes:
- Banks, insurance companies and pension plans;
- Corporations, partnerships and business entities with over $5 million in assets;
- Directors, executive officers and general partners of the issuer;
- Natural persons with over $1 million net worth or over $200,000 in annual income for two years; and
- Entities, all of whose equity owners are accredited.
In addition, the SEC has the power to define as an accredited investor any person, who, on the basis of such factors as financial sophistication, net worth, knowledge, and experience in financial matters, or amount of assets under management qualifies as an accredited investor.
Section 4(6) and