Unlike a Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) registration statement, a Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) Section 12(g) registration statement does not register securities for sale or result in any particular securities becoming freely tradeable. Rather, an Exchange Act registration has the general effect of making a company subject to the Exchange Act reporting requirements under Section 13 of that Act. Registration also subjects the company to the tender offer and proxy rules under Section 14 of the Act, its officers, directors and 10%-or-greater shareholders to the reporting requirements and short-term profit prohibitions under Section 16 of the Act and its 5%-or-greater shareholders to the reporting requirements under Sections 13(d) and 13(g) of the Act.
A company may voluntarily register under Section 12(g) at any time and, under certain circumstances, may also terminate such registration (see HERE).
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 final blog discussing the changes to Regulation Crowdfunding. The first blog in the series discussed the new integration rules (see HERE). The second blog in the series covered offering communications (see HERE). The third blog focuses on amendments to Rule 504, Rule 506(b) and 506(c) of Regulation D (see HERE). The fourth blog in the series reviews the changes to Regulation A (see HERE).
Current Exemption Framework
The Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) requires that every offer and sale of securities either be registered with the SEC or exempt
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. I have been breaking the information down into a series of blogs, with this fifth and final blog focusing on amendments to Regulation Crowdfunding.
To review the first blog
The new Regulation A/A+, which went into effect on June 19, 2015, is now three years old and continues to develop and gain market acceptance. In addition to ongoing guidance from the SEC, the experience of practitioners and the marketplace continue to develop in the area. Nine companies are now listed on national exchanges, having completed Regulation A+ IPO’s, and several more trade on OTC Markets. The NYSE even includes a page on its website related to Regulation A+ IPO’s. As further discussed herein, most of the exchange traded companies have gone down in value from their IPO offering price, which I and other practitioners attribute to the lack of firm commitment offerings and the accompanying overallotment (greenshoe) option.
On March 15, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4263, the Regulation A+ Improvement Act, increasing the Regulation A+ Tier 2 limit from $50 million to $75 million in a 12-month period. In September 2017 the House
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On June 19, 2017, the SEC announced that the Division of Corporation Finance will permit all companies to submit draft registration statements, on a confidential basis. Confidential draft submissions will now be available for all Section 12(b) Exchange Act registration statements, initial public offerings (IPO’s) and for secondary or follow-on offerings made in the first year after a company becomes publicly reporting.
The SEC has adopted the change by staff prerogative and not a formal rule change. On June 29, 2017, the SEC issued guidance on the change via new FAQs. The new policy is effective July 10, 2017.
Title I of the JOBS Act initially allowed for confidential draft submissions of registration statements by emerging growth companies but did not include any other companies, such as smaller reporting companies. Regulation A+ as enacted on June 19, 2015, also allows for confidential submissions of an offering circular by companies completing their
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On May 16, 2017, SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar gave the opening remarks to the SEC-NYU Dialogue on Securities Market Regulation. The focus of the SEC-NYU Dialogue was the current state of and outlook for the U.S. IPO market. Mr. Piwowar specifically spoke about reviving the U.S. IPO market.
The declining IPO market has been a topic of review lately, and was one of the main points discussed at the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee meeting held on June 22. SEC Chair Jay Clayton weighed in at the Investor Advisory Committee, stating that he is “actively exploring ways in which we can improve the attractiveness of listing on our public markets, while maintaining important investor protections.” Mr. Clayton’s words echoed his statements made to the Senate confirmation hearing prior to his swearing in as chair.
This blog summarizes Commissioner Piwowar’s speech and of course offers my views and commentary.
Commissioner Piwowar’s Opening
On June 8, 2017, the U.S. House of Representative passed the Financial Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs Act (the “Financial Choice Act 2.0” or the “Act”) by a vote of 283-186 along party lines. Only one Republican did not vote in favor of the Act. On May 4, 2017, the House Financial Services Committee voted to approve the Act. A prior version of the Act was adopted by the Financial Services Committee in September 2016 but never proceeded to the House for a vote.
The Financial Choice Act 2.0 is an extensive, extreme piece of legislation that would dismantle a large amount of the power of the SEC and strip the Dodd-Frank Act of many of its key provisions. The future of the Act is uncertain as it is unlikely to get through the Senate, although a rollback of Dodd-Frank remains a priority to the current administration. It is also possible that parts of the lengthy
On June 23, 2016, the SEC issued seven new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“C&DI”) related to Rule 701 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). On October 19, 2016, the SEC issued an additional three C&DI. The majority of the new C&DI focus on the effect on Rule 701 issuances following a merger or acquisition and clarify financial statement requirements under Rule 701. Two of the new C&DI address restricted stock awards including the disclosure requirements are triggered and when the holding period begins under Rule 144.
Rule 701 – Exemption for Offers and Sales to Employees of Non-Reporting Entities
Rule 701 of the Securities Act provides an exemption from the registration requirements for the issuance of securities under written compensatory benefit plans. Rule 701 is a specialized exemption for private or non-reporting entities and may not be relied upon by companies that are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as
On May 3, 2016, the SEC issued final amendments to revise the rules related to the thresholds for registrations, termination of registration, and suspension of reporting under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The amendments mark the final rule making and implementation of all provisions under the JOBS Act, and implement further provisions under the FAST Act.
The amendments revise the Section 12(g) and 15(d) rules to reflect the new, higher shareholder thresholds for triggering registration requirements and for allowing the voluntary termination of registration or suspension of reporting obligations. The new rules also make similar changes related to banks, bank holding companies, and savings and loan companies.
Specifically, the SEC has amended Exchange Act Rules 12g-1 through 12g-4 and 12h-3 related to the procedures for termination of registration under Section 12(g) through the filing of a Form 15 and for suspension of reporting obligations under Section 15(d), to reflect the higher thresholds set by the
On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (the “FAST Act”) into law, which included many capital markets/securities-related bills. The FAST Act is being dubbed the JOBS Act 2.0 by many industry insiders. The FAST Act has an aggressive rulemaking timetable and some of its provisions became effective immediately upon signing the bill into law on December 4, 2015.
On December 10, 2015, the SEC Division of Corporate Finance addressed the FAST Act by making an announcement with guidance and issuing two new Compliance & Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI). As the FAST Act is a transportation bill that rolled in securities law matters relatively quickly and then was signed into law even quicker, this was the first SEC acknowledgement and guidance on the subject.
On December 21, 2015, the SEC issued 4 additional C&DI on the FAST