Over the past several years, many direct public offering (DPO) S-1 registration statements have been filed for either shell or development-stage companies, claiming an intent to pursue and develop a particular business, when in fact, the promoter intends to create a public vehicle to be used for reverse merger transactions. For purposes of this blog, I will refer to these S-1 registration statements the same way the SEC now does, as “sham registrations.” I prefer the term “sham registrations” as it better describes the process than the other used industry term of art, “footnote 32 shells.”
Footnote 32 is part of the Securities Offering Reform Act of 2005 (“Securities Offering Reform Act”). In the final rule release for the Securities Offering Reform Act, the SEC included a footnote (number 32) which states:
“We have become aware of a practice in which the promoter of a company and/or affiliates of the promoter appear to place assets or operations within
One of the largest areas of my firms practice involves going public transactions. I have written extensively on the various going public methods, including IPO/DPOs and reverse mergers. The topic never loses relevancy, and those considering a transaction always ask about the differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, both reverse mergers and direct and initial public offerings. This blog is an updated new edition of past articles on the topic.
Over the past decade the small-cap reverse merger, initial public offering (IPO) and direct public offering (DPO) markets diminished greatly. The decline was a result of both regulatory changes and economic changes. In particular, briefly, those reasons were: (1) the recent Great Recession; (2) backlash from a series of fraud allegations, SEC enforcement actions, and trading suspensions of Chinese companies following reverse mergers; (3) the 2008 Rule 144 amendments, including the prohibition of use of the rule for shell company and former shell company shareholders; (4) problems
Legal & Compliance, LLC Adds Lazarus Rothstein, Esq. as Of Counsel as Economic Confidence Builds in 2013 among its Clients
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA (January 10, 2013) – Legal & Compliance, LLC is pleased to announce that Lazarus Rothstein, Esq. has recently joined the firm as Of Counsel to bring additional depth to its corporate and securities law practice. Mr. Rothstein has been a legal and business executive for a wide variety of public and private companies based in South Florida with worldwide operations.
Mr. Rothstein has held senior legal positions at CD International Enterprises, a company that produces pure magnesium in China and provides business and financial corporate consulting services; Elizabeth Arden, a global prestige fragrance and beauty products company with operations in over 17 countries; Sports Authority, the nation’s largest full-line sporting goods retailer, operating over 385 stores throughout the United States; Daleen Technologies, a billing and customer care software provider; and Let’s Talk Cellular & Wireless, a specialty retailer of wireless communication products and services that operated over 270 stores in the United States. In his role
SEC Will Not Meet Deadline to Remove Ban on General Solicitation and Advertising in Private Offerings and Hedge Funds
The SEC won’t make the 90-day deadline to draft rules and enact Title II of the JOBS Act eliminating the ban on advertising and general solicitation for private placements and allowing advertising by hedge funds, Mary Schapiro, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman told a U.S. House oversight panel on June 27, 2012. In prepared testimony, Mary Schapiro told a U.S. House oversight panel that certain rule writing deadlines imposed by the JOBS Act “are not achievable.”
Title II of the JOBS Act provides that, within 90 days of the passage of the JOBS Act (i.e. July 5, 2012), the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. “The 90-day deadline does not provide a realistic timeframe for the drafting of the new rule, the preparation
Are Rule 419 Companies poised to be the next big thing in the small-cap sector?
Recently, the small-cap and reverse merger market has diminished substantially. Operating businesses are wary of completing reverse mergers, and PIPE investors are harder to come by. The reasons for this are easily identifiable.
First – The General State of the Economy
Simply stated, it’s not good.
Second – The Backlash from a Series of Fraud Allegations, SEC Enforcement Actions, and Trading Suspensions of Chinese Company’s Following Reverse Mergers
Chinese company reverse mergers dominated the shell company business for years; now there are none. Moreover, it is unlikely that this area will recover any time soon. The Chinese government and US regulators must reach agreement and a mutual understanding regarding PCAOB review of Chinese audits. Even then, it may take years for the stigma to fade.
Third – The Rule 144 Changes Enacted in 2008
As discussed in previous blogs Rule 144(i),
This article continues my series on obligations (and rights and responsibilities) of the board of directors during a merger and acquisition transaction. The last in the series discussed a director’s duty of loyalty. This blog continues that discussion, focusing on the duty in particular fact circumstances.
Balancing Common and Preferred Shares
A common question I am asked by directors is how to balance the interest of two competing classes of stock (such as common and preferred). In such a case, the entire fairness standard of reviewing a corporate transaction (discussed in last blog) will not automatically be invoked, but first the court will utilize the business judgment rule. Accordingly, a director who is not conflicted and who otherwise takes all measures required (in-depth involvement in the process, review of all documents, advice of outside professionals, seeking highest price for all classes of stock) will be protected from liability.
Directors’ Financial Motivation
This article continues my series on obligations (and rights and responsibilities) of the board of directors during a merger and/or acquisition transaction. The first in the series detailed the directors’ basic duties of care, loyalty and disclosure. The second discussed the availability of indemnification and/or exculpation and the importance of acting in good faith. This third blog in the series will take a more in-depth look at a directors’ duty of loyalty in a merger and acquisition transaction.
Duty of Loyalty
The duty of loyalty demands that there be no conflict between the director’s duty to the company and their own self-interest. A director breaches that duty when he appropriates a corporate asset or opportunity or uses his corporate office to promote, advance or effectuate a transaction between the corporation and himself or a related party which isn’t entirely fair to the corporation.
Business Judgment Rule
The business judgment rule will not protect a director where there is a
This blog continues my series on obligations (and rights and responsibilities) of the board of directors during a merger and/or acquisition transaction. The first in the series went over the directors basic duties of care, loyalty and disclosure.
Indemnification of Corporate Officers
Many states’ corporate laws allow entities to include provisions in their corporate charters allowing for the exculpation and/or indemnification of directors. Exculpation refers to a complete elimination of liability whereas indemnification allows for the reimbursement of expenses incurred by an officer or director.
Delaware, for example, allows for the inclusion of a provision in the certificate of incorporation eliminating personal liability for directors in stockholder actions for breaches of fiduciary duty, except for breaches of the duty of loyalty that result in personal benefit for the director to the detriment of the shareholders. Indemnification generally is only available where the director has acted in good faith. Exculpation is generally only available to directors whereas indemnification is available
Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s) are on the rise once again. I have potential clients calling me daily interested in going public through an IPO, most have little or no prior knowledge of the public company arena – so back to basics. An IPO is an initial public offering of securities. Prior to proceeding with an IPO, an Issuer should consider the advantages, disadvantages and alternatives.
The advantages of an IPO include:
- Access to capital
- Liquidity of stock
- Public image and prestige; and
- Ability to attract and retain better personnel
The disadvantages of an IPO include:
- Expense – both of the initial transaction and ongoing compliance;
- Public disclosure of business information – public companies are required to be transparent which can give private competitors an edge;
- Limitations on long term strategic decisions
- Civil and criminal liability of executive officers and directors; and
- Takeover danger
The alternatives to an IPO for an Issuer seeking capital include:
- A Section 4(2) and/or Regulation D
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