S-8 Stock, Use and Misuse

by Laura Anthony, Esq. on July 14, 2011 in Form S-8, SEC Guidance, Uncategorized

A Form S-8 registration statement is popular with small business issuers as it becomes effective immediately upon filing and allows for incorporation by reference, both of which benefits are not always available to smaller public companies.  A Form S-8 registration statement can be used by Issuers to register securities to be offered to employees and certain consultants under certain employee benefit plans.

To qualify to use an S-8 registration statement the Issuer must: (i) be subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended; (ii) have filed all reports required to be filed during the preceding 12 months, or such shorter period of time that the Issuer has been subject to the reporting requirements; (iii) is not a shell company and has not been a shell company for at least 60 calendar days previously; and (iv) if it has been a shell company at any time previously, has filed current Form 10 information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at least 60 days previously reflecting that it is no longer a shell company.

So Who Qualifies for S-8 Stock?

An S-8 registration statement is used to register securities to be offered to employees under certain employee benefit plans.  For purposes of an S-8 the term employee benefit plan means any written purchase, savings, option, bonus, appreciation, profit sharing, thrift, incentive, pension or similar plan or written compensation contract solely for employees, directors, general partners, trustees (where the registrant is a business trust), officers, or consultants or advisors.

S-8 stock is available to consultants or advisors only if: (i) they are natural persons; (ii) they provide bona fide services to the registrant; and (iii) the services are not in connection with the offer or sale of securities in a capital raising transaction, and do not directly or indirectly promote or maintain a market in the Issuer’s securities.  Accordingly, the SEC has taken the position that Form S-8 cannot be used to register an employee benefit plan that allows for the issuance of securities to unqualified consultants or advisors, even if the Issuer does not intend to issue such securities under the plan following registration.

Attorneys Can, Auditors Can’t

Attorneys are qualified consultants under an S-8 qualified employee benefit plan.  Accordingly, a company can pay attorneys fees with S-8 stock.  Auditors however may not take S-8 stock.

Form S-8 is also subject to the Securities Act of 1933 bad boy provisions.  That is, any Issuer or any entity that at the time was a subsidiary of the issuer, that within the past three years “was convicted of any felony or misdemeanor described in paragraphs (i) through (iv) of [S]ection 15(b)(4)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934” if ineligible to use Form S-8.

The described wrongdoings include convictions which: (i) involves the purchase or sale of any security, the taking of a false oath, the making of a false report, bribery, perjury, burglary, any substantially equivalent activity however denominated by the laws of the relevant foreign government, or conspiracy to commit any such offense; (ii) arises out of the conduct of the business of a broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer, government securities broker, government securities dealer, investment adviser, bank, insurance company, fiduciary, transfer agent, nationally recognized statistical rating organization, foreign person performing a function substantially equivalent to any of the above, or entity or person required to be registered under the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 1 et seq.) or any substantially equivalent foreign statute or regulation; (iii) involves the larceny, theft, robbery, extortion, forgery, counterfeiting, fraudulent concealment, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, or misappropriation of funds, or securities, or substantially equivalent activity however denominated by the laws of the relevant foreign government; or (iv) involves the violation of section 152, 1341, 1342, or 1343 or chapter 25 or 47 of Title 18, or a violation of a substantially equivalent foreign statute.

The Author

Attorney Laura Anthony,
Founding Partner, Legal & Compliance, LLC
Securities, Reverse Mergers, Corporate Transactions

Securities attorney Laura Anthony provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size public Companies as well as private Companies intending to go public on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB), now known as the OTCQB. For more than a decade Ms. Anthony has dedicated her securities law practice towards being “the big firm alternative.” Clients receive fast and efficient cutting-edge legal service without the inherent delays and unnecessary expense of “partner-heavy” securities law firms.

Ms. Anthony’s focus includes but is not limited to compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, (“Exchange Act”) including Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K and the proxy requirements of Section 14. In addition, Ms. Anthony prepares private placement memorandums, registration statements under both the Exchange Act and Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). Moreover, Ms. Anthony represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse mergers and forward mergers, including preparation of deal documents such as Merger Agreements, Stock Purchase Agreements, Asset Purchase Agreements and Reorganization Agreements. Ms. Anthony prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of the Exchange Act, state law and FINRA for corporate changes such as name changes, reverse and forward splits and change of domicile.

Contact Legal & Compliance LLC for a free initial consultation or second opinion on an existing matter.


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