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
In mid-December, the SEC published its semiannual regulatory agenda and plans for rulemaking. The Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions contains the Regulatory Plans of 28 federal agencies and 68 federal agency regulatory agendas. The Fall 2021 Agenda (“Agenda”) met with criticism from Commissioner Hester M. Peirce and now former Commissioner Elad L. Roisman as failing to provide any items intended to facilitate capital formation – one of the main tenets of the SEC. The Agenda is published twice a year, and for several years I have blogged about each publication.
The Agenda is broken down by (i) “Pre-rule Stage”; (ii) Proposed Rule Stage; (iii) Final Rule Stage; and (iv) Long-term Actions. The Proposed and Final Rule Stages are intended to be completed within the next 12 months and Long-term Actions are anything beyond that. The number of items to be completed in a 12-month time frame jumped up to 52 items since Spring, which had only 45
On November 2, 2020, the SEC adopted final rule changes to harmonize, simplify and improve the exempt offering framework. The new rules go into effect on March 14, 2021. The 388-page rule release provides a comprehensive overhaul to the exempt offering and integration rules worthy of in-depth discussion. As such, like the proposed rules, I am breaking it down over a series of blogs with this second blog discussing offering communications including new rules related to demo days and generic testing the waters. The first blog in the series discussed the new integration rules (see HERE). The second blog in the series covered offering communications (see HERE). This third blog focuses on amendments to Rule 504, Rule 506(b) and 506(c) of Regulation D.
The Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) requires that every offer and sale of securities either be registered with the SEC or exempt from registration. The purpose of registration is to provide investors
On March 4, 2020, the SEC published proposed rule changes to harmonize, simplify and improve the exempt offering framework. The SEC had originally issued a concept release and request for public comment on the subject in June 2019 (see HERE). The proposed rule changes indicate that the SEC has been listening to capital markets participants and is supporting increased access to private offerings for both businesses and a larger class of investors. Together with the proposed amendments to the accredited investor definition (see HERE), the new rules could have as much of an impact on the capital markets as the JOBS Act has had since its enactment in 2012.
The 341-page rule release provides a comprehensive overhaul to the exempt offering and integration rules worthy of in-depth discussion. As such, I will break it down over a series of blogs, with the second blog in the series which focuses on offering communications, the new demo day exemption, and
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).
Four years after issuing its report on the definition of “accredited investors” in December 2015, the SEC has published a proposed rule amendment to the definition. See HERE for my blog on the SEC’s report. The amendments were anticipated following an in-depth discussion on the definition contained in the SEC’s Concept Release on Private Offerings published in July 2019 (see HERE)
As a whole industry insiders, including myself, are pleased with the proposal and believe it will open up private investment opportunities to a wider class of sophisticated investors, while still maintaining investor protections. In the rule amendment release the SEC cites numerous comment letters suggesting and supporting many of the proposed amendments including one from the Crowdfunding Professionals Association (CfPA), Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Division, a committee I sit on and for which I participated in the preparation of the comment letter.
The current test for individual accredited investors is a bright line income or net
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
House Appropriations Bill
The House continues its busy activity of passing legislation designed to reduce securities and market regulations. In early July, the House passed H.R. 2995, an appropriations bill for the federal budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1st. No further action has been taken. The 259-page bill, which is described as “making appropriations for financing services and general government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes” (“House Appropriation Bill”), contains numerous provisions reducing or eliminating funding for key aspects of SEC enforcement and regulatory provisions.
Earlier this year, I wrote this BLOG about three House bills that will likely never be passed into law. The 3 bills include: (i) H.R. 1675 – the Capital Markets Improvement Act of 2016, which has 5 smaller acts imbedded therein; (ii) H.R. 3784, establishing the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation and Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee within the SEC; and (iii) H.R. 2187, proposing
The JOBS Act enacted in 2012 made the most dramatic changes to the landscape for the marketing and selling of both private and public offerings since the enactment of the Securities Act of 1933. These significant changes include: (i) the creation of Rule 506(c), which came into effect on September 23, 2013 and allows for general solicitation and advertising in private offerings where the purchasers are limited to accredited investors; (ii) the overhaul of Regulation A creating two tiers of offerings, which came into effect on June 19, 2015 and allows for both pre-filing and post-filing marketing of an offering, called “testing the waters”; (iii) the addition of Section 5(d) of the Securities Act, which came into effect in April 2012, permitting emerging growth companies to test the waters by engaging in pre- and post-filing communications with qualified institutional buyers or institutions that are accredited investors; and (iv) Title III crowdfunding, which came into effect May 19, 2016 and allows