Termination Of Registration Under Section 12 Of The Exchange Act
A public company with a class of securities registered under Section 12 or which is subject to Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) must file Section 13 reports with the SEC (10-K, 10-Q and 8-K). A company registers securities under Section 12 by filing an Exchange Act registration statement such as on Form 10, Form 20-F or Form 8-A. A company becomes subject to Section 15(d) by filing a registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”) such as a Form S-1 or F-1. The Section 15(d) reporting requirements are scaled down from the full Exchange Act reporting requirements for a company with a class of securities registered under Section 12.
I have previously written about suspending the duty to file reports under Section 15(d) and the related question of determining voluntary reporting status (see HERE). This blog addresses the termination of registration under Section 12.
SEC Re-Opens Comments On The Use Of Universal Proxy Cards
On April 16, 2021, the SEC voted to reopen the comment period on the proposed rules for the use of Universal proxy cards in all non-exempt solicitations for contested director elections. The original rules were proposed on October 16, 2016 (see HERE) with no activity since. However, it is not surprising that the comment period re-opened, and it is not as a result of the new administration. The SEC’s Spring and Fall 2020 semi-annual regulatory agendas and plans for rulemaking both included universal proxies as action items in the final rule stage. Prior to that, the topic had sat in the long-term action category for years.
In light of the several years since the original proposing release, change in corporate governance environment, proliferation of virtual shareholder meetings, and rule amendments related to proxy advisory firms (see HERE) and shareholder proposals in the proxy process (see HERE), the SEC believed it prudent to re-open a public comment period.
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
SEC Proposed Executive Compensation Clawback Rules
On July 1, 2015, the SEC published the anticipated executive compensation clawback rules (“Clawback Rules”). The rules are in the comment period and will not be effective until the SEC publishes final rules. The proposed rules require national exchanges to enact rules and listing standards requiring exchange listed companies to adopt and enforce policies requiring the clawback of certain incentive-based compensation from current and former executive officers in the event of an accounting restatement.
In particular, the proposed rules implement Section 10D of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) and as added by Section 954 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”). Section 10D requires the SEC to adopt rules directing national exchanges to prohibit the listing of any security of an issuer that is not in compliance with Section 10D’s requirements for (i) disclosure of the company’s policy on incentive-based compensation that is based on financial statement results and (ii)
Proposed Amendments To Disclosure Of Hedging Policies For Officers, Directors And Employees
On February 9, 2015, the SEC issued proposed rules that would increase corporate disclosure of company hedging policies for directors and employees in annual meeting proxy statements. The new rules are part of the ongoing rule-making requirements mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). In particular, the new rule would implement Section 14(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), which requires annual meeting proxy or consent solicitation statements to disclose whether employees or members of the board are permitted to purchase financial instruments, such as options, swaps, collars and the like, to hedge price decreases in the company securities.
The proposed rules regulate disclosure of company policy as opposed to directing the substance of that policy or the underlying hedging activities. In fact, the rule specifically does not require a company to prohibit a hedging transaction or otherwise adopt specific policies. The rule would require disclosure about whether directors, officers and
The ECOS Matter; When Is A Reverse Split Effective?
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
In what was presumably an unintended consequence, the application of an SEC- approved FINRA regulation has resulted in a conflict between state and federal corporate law for a small publicly traded company.
On September 16, 2014, Ecolocap Solutions, Inc. (“ECOS”) filed a Form 8-K in which it disclosed that FINRA had refused to process its 1-for-2,000 reverse split. At the time of the FINRA refusal, ECOS had already received board and shareholder approval and had filed the necessary amended articles with the State of Nevada, legally effectuating the reverse split in accordance with state law. Moreover, ECOS is subject to the reporting requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”), and had filed a preliminary and then definitive 14C information statement with the SEC, reporting the shareholder approval of the split.
The ECOS 8-K attached a copy of the FINRA denial letter, which can be viewed HERE.
SEC Filed Actions Against 19 Firms and One Individual Trader for Violation of Rule 105 of Regulation M
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
On September 16, 2014, the SEC filed actions against 19 firms and one individual trade for short selling violations in advance of public stock offerings in violation of Rule 105 of Regulation M. The SEC has actively enforced Regulation M since its enactment in 1996. Regulation M is designed to prevent stock manipulation during public offerings and Rule 105 particularly prohibits short selling of stock within five business days of participating in an offering for the same stock. That is, you cannot short stock and cover your short by buying the same stock from the underwriter in a public offering. Rule 105 prevents downward pressure on a company’s stock price during the offering process.
The SEC’s current investigation found that 19 firms and one individual trader charged in these latest cases engaged in short selling of particular stocks shortly before they bought shares from an underwriter, broker, or dealer participating in a follow-on
SEC Proposes Rules for Regulation A+
On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, commonly referred to as Regulation A+. The proposed rules both add the new Section 3(b)(2) (i.e., Regulation A+) provisions and modify the existing Regulation A. This blog is limited to a discussion of the new Regulation A+.
Title IV of the JOBS Act technically amends Section 3(b) of the Securities Act, which up to now has been a general provision allowing the SEC to fashion exemptions from registration, up to a total offering amount of $5,000,000. Regulation A is and has historically been an exemption created under the powers afforded the SEC by Section 3(b).
Technically speaking, Regulation D, Rule 504 and 505 offerings and Regulation A offerings are promulgated under Section 3(b), and Rule 506 is promulgated under Section 4(a)(2). This is important because federal law does not pre-empt state law for Section 3(b) offerings, but it does so for Section
The SEC Establishes Key Exemption to the Broker-Dealer Registration Requirements for M&A Brokers
On January 31, 2014, the SEC Division of Trading and Markets issued a no-action letter in favor of entities effecting securities transactions in connection with the sale of equity control of private operating businesses (“M&A Broker”). The SEC stated that it would not require broker-dealer registration for M&A Brokers arranging for the sale of private businesses, in accordance with the facts and circumstances set forth in the no action letter, as described below.
For many years the SEC has maintained a staunch view that any and all activities that could fall within the broker-dealer registration requirements set forth in Section 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), require registration. See also the SEC Guide to Broker-Dealer Registration (2008) on the SEC website.
In accordance with the SEC Guide to Broker-Dealer Registration, providing any of the following services may require the individual or entity to be registered as a broker-dealer:
- “finders,” “business brokers,” and
A Basic Overview of Rule 144
The Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) Rule 144 sets forth certain requirements for the use of Section 4(1) for the resale of securities. Section 4(1) of the Securities Act provides an exemption for a transaction “by a person other than an issuer, underwriter, or dealer.” The terms “Issuer” and “dealer” have pretty straightforward meanings under the Securities Act, but the term “underwriter” does not. Rule 144 provides a safe harbor from the definition of “underwriter.” If all the requirements for Rule 144 are met, the seller will not be deemed an underwriter and the purchaser will receive unrestricted securities.
Although not set out in the statute, all transfer agents and Issuers, along with most clearing and brokerage firms, require an opinion of