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
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
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As I’ve written about previously, recently (albeit not officially) the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has materially altered its position on offerings by shell companies that are not blank check companies. In particular, over the past year, numerous shell companies that are not also blank check companies have completed direct public offerings using a S-1 registration statement and successfully obtained market maker support and a ticker symbol from FINRA and are trading.
Rule 419 and Blank Check Companies
The provisions of Rule 419 apply to every registration statement filed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, by a blank check company. Rule 419 requires that the