With the growing popularity of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), both the Nasdaq and NYSE have proposed rule changes that would make listings easier, although on June 1, 2018, the Nasdaq withdrew its proposal. SPACs raised more money last year than any year since the financial crisis. The SEC has been delaying action on the proposed rule changes, now pushing off a decision until at least August 2018.
A company that registers securities as a blank check company and whose securities are deemed a “penny stock” must comply with Rule 419 and thus are not eligible to trade. A brief discussion of Rule 419 is below. A “penny stock” is defined in Rule 3a51-1 of the Exchange Act and like many definitions in the securities laws, is inclusive of all securities other than those that satisfy certain delineated exceptions. The most common exceptions, and those that would be applicable to penny stocks for purpose of the SPAC, include: (i)
A SPAC is a company organized to purchase one or more operating businesses and which generally intends to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO), direct public offering (DPO) or private offering.
IPO’s, DPO’s and Rule 419
SPAC’s that engage in either an IPO or DPO are subject to Rule 419 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. The provisions of Rule 419 apply to every registration statement filed under the Securities Act of 1933, by a blank check company. Rule 419 requires that the blank check company filing such registration statement deposit the securities being offered and proceeds of the offering, less reasonable offering expenses, into an escrow or trust account pending the execution of an agreement for an acquisition or merger. In addition, the registrant is required to file a post effective amendment to the registration statement containing the same information as found in a Form 10 registration statement, upon the execution of an agreement for