SEC Proposed Rule Changes For Exempt Offerings – Part 2
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
SEC Completes Inflation Adjustment To Civil Penalties
The SEC has completed the first annual adjustment for inflation of the maximum civil monetary penalties administered under the SEC. The inflation adjustment was mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015, which requires all federal agencies to make an annual adjustment to civil penalties.
The SEC adjusted civil penalties that can be imposed under the Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Investment Company Act of 1040, Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 civil penalties are those imposed by the PCAOB in disciplinary proceedings against its accountant members.
The penalty increase applies to civil monetary penalties (“CMP”). A CMP is defined as “any penalty, fine, or other sanction that: (1) is for a specific amount, or has the maximum amount, as provided by federal law; and (2) is assessed or enforced by an agency in an administrative proceeding or by a federal court
What Does The SEC Do And What Is Its Purpose?
As I write about the myriad of constantly changing and progressing securities law-related policies, rules, regulations, guidance and issues, I am reminded that sometimes it is important to go back and explain certain key facts to lay a proper foundation for an understanding of the topics which layer on this foundation. In this blog, I am doing just that by explaining what the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is and its purpose. Most of information in this blog comes from the SEC website, which is an extremely useful resource for practitioners, issuers, investors and all market participants.
The mission of the SEC is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitate capital formation. Although each mission should be a priority, the reality is that the focus of the SEC changes based on its Chair and Commissioners and political pressure. Outgoing Chair Mary Jo White viewed the SEC enforcement division and task of investor protection as her
Direct Public Offerings by Shell Companies- Tread Carefully
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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
DTC Has Published Proposed Rules Related To Chills and Locks
On October 8, 2013, I published a blog and white paper providing background and information on the Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) eligibility, chills and locks and the DTC’s then plans to propose new rules to specify procedures available to Issuers when the DTC imposes or intends to impose chills or locks. On December 5, 2013, DTC filed these proposed rules with the SEC and on December 18, 2013, the proposed rules were published and public comment invited thereon (“Rule Release”). For background on DTC basics such as eligibility and the evolving procedures in dealing with chills and locks, please see my prior blog here .
The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) is a central securities depository in the U.S. which was originally created as a central holding and clearing system to handle the flow of trading securities and the problems with moving physical certificates among trading parties. The DTC is regulated by the SEC, the Federal Reserve System and the
Board of Directors Obligations as Applied to Mergers and Acquisitions
State corporate law generally provides that the business and affairs of a corporation shall be managed under the direction of its board of directors. Members of the board of directors have a fiduciary relationship to the corporation, which requires that they act in the best interest of the corporation, as opposed to their own. Generally a court will not second-guess directors’ decisions as long as the board has conducted an appropriate process in reaching its decision. This is referred to as the “business judgment rule.” However, in certain instances, such as in a merger and acquisition transaction, where a board may have a conflict of interest (i.e., get the most money for the corporation and its shareholders vs. getting the most for themselves via either cash or job security), the board of directors’ actions face a higher level of scrutiny. This is referred to as “enhanced scrutiny business judgment rule.” The same standards apply to officers of a
DTC Unveils Procedures and Plans for a Rule Change that Applies to Issuers Affected By Chills and Locks
Back in October and November of 2011, I wrote a series of blogs regarding DTC eligibility for OTC (over-the-counter) Issuers. A key eligibility criterion is that the securities that were distributed in accordance with Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 do not have transfer restrictions and are freely tradable. To meet this criterion, the securities must have been issued pursuant to an effective registration statement or valid exemption thereto. I have followed that series with various blogs regarding DTC chills and the evolving process to first learn the cause of the chill and second, to reach a resolution.
The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) is a central securities depository in the U.S. which was originally created
Section 3(a)(10) Debt Conversions in a Shell Company Pre-Reverse Merger
Section 3(a) (10) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”) is an exemption from the Securities Act registration requirements for the offers and sales of securities by Issuers. The exemption provides that “Except with respect to a security exchanged in a case under title 11 of the United States Code, any security which is issued in exchange for one or more bona fide outstanding securities, claims or property interests, or partly in such exchange and partly for cash, where the terms and conditions of such issuance and exchange are approved, after a hearing upon the fairness of such terms and conditions at which all persons to whom it is proposed to issue securities in such exchange shall have the right to appear, by any court, or by any official or agency of the United States, or by any State or Territorial banking or insurance commission or other governmental authority expressly authorized by law to grant such
SEC Announces it Will Seek an Admission of Fault to Settle Certain Cases
On June 18, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a policy change related to its settlement of certain civil matters. In particular, the SEC has stated that it will now require that the settling party admit wrongdoing as part of a settlement. Previously the standard language for all settlements has been that the defendants “neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.” Defendants, of course, cannot be required to make such an admission or settle a case, but the alternative is fighting it out in court, an expensive and risky process.
The change in policy began with a related change in which the SEC changed its policy to require admissions of wrongdoing to settle cases where the defendant had already admitted such wrongdoing in related criminal cases. Mary Jo White has now announced that, even in cases where there is no parallel criminal case, the SEC will now require individuals and companies to admit liability in “cases where… it’s very important to
An Overview of Exemptions for Hedge Fund Advisers: Exemptions for Advisers to Venture Capital Funds, Private Fund Advisers with Less Than $150 Million in Assets Under Management, and Foreign Private Advisers – Part I
As I have blogged about in the past, the JOBS Act will have a significant impact on hedge funds, and in particular smaller hedge funds. As the delayed rule changes become imminent, our firm has noticed a spike in inquiries related to small hedge funds and feeder funds. The JOBS Act is not the only recent congressional act to change the landscape of hedge funds; the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) made a significant impact as well.
In particular, the Dodd-Frank Act eliminated the oft-relied upon exemption from registration for private hedge fund advisers for those advisers with fewer than 15 clients. While eliminating the private adviser exemption, the Dodd-Frank created three new exemptions, which are the operable hedge fund adviser exemptions today. These exemptions are for:
(1) Advisers solely to venture capital funds;
(2) Advisers solely to private funds with less than $150 million in assets under management in the U.S.; and