The SEC Has Provided Guidance On Ether and Bitcoin, Sort Of
On June 14, 2018, William Hinman, the Director of the SEC Division of Corporation Finance, gave a speech at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit in which he made two huge revelations for the crypto marketplace. The first is that he believes a cryptocurrency issued in a securities offering could later be purchased and sold in transactions not subject to the securities laws. The second is that Ether and Bitcoin are not currently securities. Also, for the first time, Hinman gives the marketplace guidance on how to structure a token or coin such that it might not be a security.
While this gives the marketplace much-needed guidance on the topic, a speech by an executive with the SEC has no legal force. As a result, the blogs and press responding to Mr. Hinman’s speech have been mixed. Personally, I think it is a significant advancement in the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the crypto space and a signal that more constructive guidance
SEC Issues Additional Guidance on Regulation A+
On March 31, 2017, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued six new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) to provide guidance related to Regulation A/A+. Since the new Regulation A+ came into effect on June 19, 2015, its use has continued to steadily increase. In my practice it is the most popular method for a public offering under $50 million.
As an ongoing commentary on Regulation A+, following a discussion on the CD&I guidance, I have included practice tips, and thoughts on Regulation A+, and a summary of the Regulation A+ rules, including interpretations and guidance up to the date of this blog.
New CD&I Guidance
In the first of the new CD&I, the SEC clarifies the timing of the filing of a Form 8-A to register a class of securities under Section 12(b) or (g) of the Exchange Act. In particular, in order to be able to file a Form 8-A as part of the Regulation A+
More On Regulation A/A+; Thoughts On The Practical Effects And New SEC Guidance
On March 25, 2015, the SEC released final rules amending Regulation A. The new rules are commonly referred to as Regulation A+. The existing Tier I Regulation A, which does not preempt state law, has been increased to $20 million and the new Tier 2, which does preempt state law, allows a raise of up to $50 million. Issuers may elect to proceed under either Tier I or Tier 2 for offerings up to $20 million. The new rules went into effect on June 19, 2015.
On June 23, 2015, the SEC updated its Division of Corporation Finance Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) to provide guidance related to Regulation A/A+. The SEC published 11 new C&DI’s and deleted 2 related to forms and in particular, related to paper filings and annotations which are no longer relevant or applicable.
Practical Effects of New Regulation A/A+
I believe, and the feedback I hear supports, that new Regulation A+ will be widely
OTC Markets Amends Listing Standards For OTCQB To Include Regulation A+ Issuers
OTC Markets has unveiled changes to the quotations rule and standards for the OTCQB, which changes become effective July 10, 2015. The OTC Markets rule amendments will allow a company to use its required Regulation A+ ongoing reporting requirements to satisfy the initial and ongoing OTCQB disclosure requirements.
Concurrently with this substantive amendment, OTCQB has made clarifying general amendments to its listing standards for all listed and prospective OTCQB companies. OTC Markets has invited comments on the proposed changes.
To summarize, the Regulation A related amendment to the OTCQB rules and regulations includes:
- The addition of definitions for “Regulation A” and “Regulation A Reporting Company”
- Initial Disclosure Obligations – a Regulation A Reporting Company can meet the OTCQB initial disclosure obligations by having filed all required reports on EDGAR, including annual audited financial statements;
- OTCQB Certification – clarifying amendment to the OTCQB Certification including that a Regulation A Reporting Company is required to file periodic reports with the SEC under
SEC Has Published Final Rules Adopting Regulation A+
On March 25, 2015, the SEC pleasantly surprised the business community by releasing final rules amending Regulation A. The new rules are commonly referred to as Regulation A+. The existing Tier I Regulation A, which does not preempt state law, has been increased to $20 million and the new Tier II, which does preempt state law, allows a raise of up to $50 million. Issuers may elect to proceed under either Tier I or Tier II for offerings up to $20 million. As is becoming common in the industry, I will refer to the new rules, including both Tier I and Tier II offerings, as Regulation A+.
In its press release announcing the passage, SEC Chair Mary Jo White was quoted as saying, “These new rules provide an effective, workable path to raising capital that also provides strong investor protections. It is important for the Commission to continue to look for ways that our rules can facilitate capital raising
Understanding The NSMIA And Navigating State Blue Sky Laws- Part II
The National Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (NSMIA)
Generally, an offering and/or sale of securities must be either registered or exempt from registration under both the federal Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and state securities laws. As a result of a lack of uniformity in state securities laws and associated burden on capital-raising transactions, on October 11, 1996, the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (“NSMIA”) was enacted into law.
The NSMIA amended Section 18 of the Securities Act to pre-empt state “blue sky” registration and review of specified securities and offerings. The preempted securities are called “covered securities.” The NSMIA also amended Section 15 of the Exchange Act to pre-empt the state’s authority over capital, custody, margin, financial responsibility, making and keeping records, bonding or financial or operational reporting requirements for brokers and dealers.
In Part I of this blog, I summarized the NSMIA pre-emption provisions. In this Part II, I discuss state blue sky laws.
Regulation A and Rule 504
Section 3(b) of the Securities Act gives the SEC authority to exempt from registration certain offerings where the securities to be offered involve relatively small dollar amounts. Under this provision, the SEC has adopted Regulation A, a conditional ex-emption for certain public offerings not exceeding $5 million in any 12-month period. An offering statement (consisting of a notification, offering circular, and exhibits) must be filed with the SEC Regional Office in the region where the company’s principal business activities are conducted. Although Regulation A is technically an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act, it is often referred to as a “short form” of registration since the offering circular (similar in content to a prospectus) must be sup-plied to each purchaser and the securities issued are freely tradeable in an aftermarket.
The principal advantages of Regulation A offerings, as opposed to full registration on Form S-1, SB-1 or SB-2, are:
- Required financial statements are simpler and need not