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
Following the April 2, 2020 virtual meeting of the SEC Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee in which the Committee urged the SEC to ease crowdfunding restrictions to allow established small businesses to quickly access potential investors (see HERE), the SEC has provided temporary, conditional expedited crowdfunding access to small businesses. The temporary rules are intended to expedite the offering process for smaller, previously established companies directly or indirectly affected by Covid-19 that are seeking to meet their funding needs through the offer and sale of securities pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding.
The temporary rules will provide eligible companies with relief from certain rules with respect to the timing of a company’s offering and the financial statements required. To take advantage of the temporary rules, a company must meet enhanced eligibility requirements and provide clear, prominent disclosure to investors about its reliance on the relief. The relief will apply to offerings launched between May 4, 2020 and August 31,
In early April, the SEC Office of Small Business Policy published the 2016 Final Report on the SEC Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation, a forum I had the honor of attending and participating in. As required by the Small Business Investment Incentive Act of 1980, each year the SEC holds a forum focused on small business capital formation. The goal of the forum is to develop recommendations for government and private action to eliminate or reduce impediments to small business capital formation.
The forum is taken seriously by the SEC and its participants, including the NASAA, and leading small business and professional organizations. The forum began with short speeches by each of the SEC commissioners and a panel discussion, following which attendees, including myself, worked in breakout sessions to drill down on specific issues and suggest changes to rules and regulations to help support small business capital formation, as well as the related, secondary trading markets. In
On February 28, 2017, the SEC released a white paper on Regulation Crowdfunding, which law went into effect on May 16, 2016. Regulation Crowdfunding had been long in the making, with the JOBS Act having been passed on April 5, 2012, and the first set of proposed crowdfunding rules having been published on October 23, 2013. Regulation Crowdfunding provides the rules implementing Section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the Securities Act). For a summary of Regulation Crowdfunding, see my blog HERE.
From the time the SEC published the final Regulation Crowdfunding rules and regulations on October 30, 2015, the regulatory framework has met with wide criticism. The most commonly repeated issues with the current structure include: (i) the $1 million annual minimum is too low to adequately meet small-business funding needs; (ii) companies cannot “test the waters” in advance of or at the initial stages of an offering; and (iii) companies cannot currently use a Special Purchase
As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 30, 2015, the SEC has published the final crowdfunding rules. Regulation Crowdfunding has been long in the making, with the JOBS Act having been passed on April 5, 2012, and the first set of proposed crowdfunding rules having been published on October 23, 2013. The new rules will be effective 180 days after publication, but the forms for registering a funding portal with the SEC will be effective and available January 29, 2016.
The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” Regulation Crowdfunding provides the rules implementing Section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the Securities Act) and the regulatory framework for registered funding portals and broker-dealers that companies are required to use as intermediaries in crowdfunding offerings. In addition, Regulation Crowdfunding exempts securities sold under Section 4(a)(g) from the mandatory registration requirements found in Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”).
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 23, 2013, the SEC published proposed crowdfunding rules. The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” The entire 584-page text of the rule release is available on the SEC website. As of today, it is unclear when final rules will be released and passed into law and what changes those final rules will have from the proposed rules. Moreover, upon passage of the final rules, there will be a period of ramping-up time in which crowdfunding portals complete the process of registering with the SEC, becoming members of FINRA and completing the necessary steps to ensure that their portal operates in compliance with those final rules. Federal crowdfunding is coming, but it is a slow process.
In the meantime, several states have either enacted or introduced state-specific crowdfunding legislation.
Federal Authority for State Crowdfunding Legislation
Both the federal government
As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 23, 2013, the SEC has published proposed crowdfunding rules. The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” The entire text of the rule release is available on the SEC website.
Crowdfunding generally is where an entity or individual raises funds by seeking small contributions from a large number of people. The crowdfunder sets a goal amount to be raised from the crowd with the funds to be used for a specific business purpose. In addition, a crowdfunding campaign allows the crowd to communicate with each other, thus adding the benefit of the “wisdom of the crowd.” Small businesses can particularly benefit from crowdfunding as they are not limited by restrictions on general solicitation and advertising or purchaser qualification requirements.