Compliance When Conducting Concurrent Private and Public Offerings
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) integration guidance in Securities Act Release No. 8828 (August 3, 2007) sets forth a framework for analyzing potential integration issues in the specific situation of concurrent private and public offerings. The guidance clarifies that, under appropriate circumstances, there can be a side-by-side private offering under Securities Act Rule 4(2) or the Securities Act Rule 506 safe harbor, with a registered public offering.
Qualified Institutional Investors
Previously it was thought that a private offering could only take place concurrently with a public offering if limited to qualified institutional investors (must have at least $100 million under management) and two or three additional large institutional accredited investors as set forth in the Black Box no action letter (June 26, 1990), or to an Issuer’s key officers and directors. In addition, many practitioners previously utilized the integration rule set forth in Securities Act Rule 502 in determining whether a private and public offering should be integrated. In Release No. 8828, the SEC clarified that Rule 502 provides the test to be used in determining whether two or more otherwise exempt offerings should be integrated. As a public offering is not an exempt offering this rule does not apply when determining the integration of concurrent private and public offerings.
Solicitation of Investors
The SEC guidance focuses on how the investors in the private offering are solicited and in particular, whether by the registration statement or through some other means that would not otherwise foreclose the use of the Section 4(2) exemption (for example, solicitation through general solicitation or advertising would prohibit the use of Section 4(2)). If the potential investors become interested in a private investment through the registration statement, then it is deemed that a general solicitation has occurred and Section 4(2) would not be available. However, if the investors become interested in the private offering through some other means, such as where there is a substantive pre-existing relationship with the Issuer, then Section 4(2) would be available for use.
Moreover, an Issuer that completes a Section 4(2) private offering concurrently with a public offering may amend its registration statement to include the newly sold securities in its re-sale registration statement.
Clarification of Concurrent Offerings
The SEC also clarifies that in the specific situation of a concurrent private and public offering, only the guidance set forth in Release No. 8828 applies, and not the integration rules for exempt offerings set forth in Rule 502 or the integration rules relating to abandoned private and public offerings as set forth in Rule 155. In addition, an analysis under Release No. 8828 is factually specific and must be determined on a case by case basis.
Securities attorney Laura Anthony provides expert legal advice and ongoing corporate counsel to small public Companies as well as private Companies seeking to go public on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board Exchange (OTCBB). Ms. Anthony counsels private and small public Companies nationwide regarding reverse mergers, due diligence on public shells, corporate transactions and all aspects of securities law.
Ms. Anthony is the Founding Partner of Legal & Compliance, LLC, a national corporate, securities and civil litigation law firm based in West Palm Beach, Florida. The firm’s corporate and securities attorneys provide technical legal services to small and mid-size private and public (OTCBB) Companies, entrepreneurs, and business professionals nationwide. Contact us today for a FREE consultation!