The rules related to direct listings continue to evolve, with the latest Nasdaq rule change being approved on December 2, 2022, although their utilization has been slow to gain traction. Despite the Exchange’s efforts to make the process more attractive and viable, based on a few articles on the subject, only 10 companies had gone public via direct listing as of December 31, 2021, and I could not find a single example of any others since that time. Moreover, and certainly due to the elevated listing standards and arduous process, each of the companies have been much more mature such as Spotify, Slack, Palantir and Coinbase.
In any event, both Nasdaq and the NYSE continue with an “if we build it they will come” approach. After multiple iterations with the SEC, both Nasdaq and the NYSE approved rules that allow a company to raise capital concurrently with a direct listing (see HERE). The very handy Nasdaq Initial Listing Guide
The rules related to direct listings continue to evolve as this method of going public continues to gain in popularity. The last time I wrote about direct listings was in September 2020, shortly after the SEC approved, then stayed its approval, of the NYSE’s direct listing rules that allow companies to sell newly issued primary shares on its own behalf into the opening trade in a direct listing process (see HERE). Since that time, both the NYSE and Nasdaq proposed rules to allow for a direct listing with a capital raise have been approved by the SEC.
The Nasdaq Stock Market has three tiers of listed companies: (1) The Nasdaq Global Select Market, (2) The Nasdaq Global Market, and (3) The Nasdaq Capital Market. Each tier has increasingly higher listing standards, with the Nasdaq Global Select Market having the highest initial listing standards and the Nasdaq Capital Markets being the entry-level tier for most micro- and small-cap issuers.
The Nasdaq Stock Market currently has three tiers of listed companies: (1) The Nasdaq Global Select Market, (2) The Nasdaq Global Market, and (3) The Nasdaq Capital Market. Each tier has increasingly higher listing standards, with the Nasdaq Global Select Market having the highest initial listing standards and the Nasdaq Capital Markets being the entry-level tier for most micro- and small-cap issuers. For a review of the Nasdaq Capital Market listing requirements, see HERE as supplemented and amended HERE.
On December 3, 2019, the SEC approved amendments to the Nasdaq rules related to direct listings on the Nasdaq Global Market and Nasdaq Capital Market. As previously reported, on February 15, 2019, Nasdaq amended its direct listing process rules for listing on the Market Global Select Market (see HERE).
On April 3, 2018, Spotify made a big board splash by debuting on the NYSE without an IPO. Instead, Spotify filed a resale registration statement registering the securities already held by its existing shareholders. The process is referred to as a direct listing. As most of those shareholders had invested in Spotify in private offerings, they were rewarded with a true exit strategy and liquidity by becoming the company’s initial public float.
In order to complete the direct listing process, NYSE had to implement a rule change. NASDAQ already allows for direct listings, although it has historically been rarely used. To the contrary, a direct listing has often been used as a going public method on the OTC Markets and in the wake of Spotify, may gain in popularity on national exchanges as well.
On August 8, 2017 the SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA) published a 315-page report describing trends in primary securities issuance and secondary market liquidity and assessing how those trends relate to impacts of the Dodd-Frank Act, including the Volcker Rule. The report examines the issuances of debt, equity and asset-backed securities and reviews liquidity in U.S. treasuries, corporate bonds, credit default swaps and bond funds. Included in the reports is a study of trends in unregistered offerings, including Regulation C and Regulation Crowdfunding.
This blog summarizes portions of the report that I think will be of interest to the small-cap marketplace.
Disclaimers and Considerations
The report begins with a level of disclaimers and the obvious issue of isolating the impact of particular rules, especially when multiple rules are being implemented in the same time period. Even without the DERA notes that noted trends and behaviors could have occurred absent rule changes or reforms. The financial crisis
On November 17, 2016, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued a new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) related to the integration of a completed 506(b) offering with a new 506(c) offering. The new C&DI confirms that 506(c) offering will not integrate with a previously completed 506(b) offering.
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 startenging.com, 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 the use of marketing and solicitation to
On December 4, 2013, the SEC updated its Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“C&DI’s”) including new guidance on the rules disqualifying bad actors from participating in Rule 506 offerings.
The Dodd-Frank Act required the SEC to implement rules which disqualify certain Rule 506 offerings based on the individuals involved in the Issuer and related parties. On July 10, 2013, the SEC adopted such rules by amending portions of Rules 501 and 506 of Regulation D, promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933. The new rules went into effect on September 23, 2013. The new rule disqualifies the use of Rule 506 as a result of certain convictions, cease and desist orders, suspensions and bars (“disqualifying events”) that occur on or after September 23, 2013, and adds disclosure obligation in Rule 506(e) for disqualifying events that occurred prior to September 23, 2013.
Rule 506 provides that disqualifying events committed by a list of specified “covered persons” affiliated with the Issuer or