In addition to being a tragedy, the Russian attack on the Ukraine has disrupted businesses around the world, caused a spike in oil prices and raised disclosure issues for public companies as we are firmly in 10-K and proxy season.. In addition to the obvious disruption of business in both the Ukraine and Russia, the U.S. and many other European countries have imposed significant sanctions against Russia that may also impact companies and U.S. capital market participants. No fewer than three of my clients have been directly affected by the conflict from the extreme of having to close an entire division to the less impactful certain non-collectability of receivables.
Disclosure requirements will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of a particular company, but key areas that may need attention are risk factors, description of business and management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A).
In August 2020, the SEC adopted final amendments to Item 105 – Risk Factors
The Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation (“Office”) issued its 2020 Annual Report and it breaks down one of the strangest years in any of our lives, into facts and figures that continue to illustrate the resilience of the U.S. capital markets. Although the report is for fiscal year end September 30, 2020, prior to much of the impact of Covid-19, the Office supplemented the Report with initial Covid-19 impact information.
Background on Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation
The SEC’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation launched in January 2019 after being created by Congress pursuant to the Small Business Advocate Act of 2016 (see HERE). One of the core tenants of the Office is recognizing that small businesses are job creators, generators of economic opportunity and fundamental to the growth of the country, a drum I often beat.
The Office has the following functions: (i) assist small businesses
On June 25, 2020, SEC Chair Jay Clayton gave testimony before the Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services on the topic of capital markets and emergency lending in the Covid-19 era. The next day, on June 26, Chair Clayton, William Hinman, Director of the Division of Corporation Finance, Dalia Blass, Director of the Division of Investment Management and Brett Redfearn, Director of the Division of Trading and Markets issued a public statement on the same topic but expanded to include efforts to ensure the orderly function of U.S. capital markets.
Chair Clayton Testimony
Chair Clayton breaks down his testimony over five topics including: (i) market monitoring and regulatory coordination; (ii) guidance and targeted assistance and relief; (iii) investor protection, education and outreach efforts; (iv) ongoing mission-oriented work; and (v) the SEC’s fiscal-year 2021 budget request.
Market Monitoring and Regulatory Coordination
Despite the extraordinary volumes and volatility we have seen in the