Law Blog Category: Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding Direct Public Offerings

As a reminder, on April 5, 2012 President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. Part of the JOBS Act is the Crowdfunding Act, the full title of which is the “Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act of 2012”. The Crowdfunding Act creates a new exemption to the registration requirements under a newly designated Section 4(6) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Although the Crowdfunding Act is, by definition, an exemption from the registration requirements and therefore a new form of private placement, innovative and forward thinking minds have already come up with a method of utilizing the crowdfunding methodology for a public, registered offering.

Regulation A+; A Brief History

Title IV of the JOBS Act – Small Capital Formation – is quickly being called the new Regulation A+. Title IV of the JOBS Act technically amends Section 3(b) of the Securities Act of 1933, which up to now has been a general provision allowing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fashion exemptions from registration, up to a total offering amount of $5,000,000. The new provision will be Section 3(b)(2) with the old statutory language remaining and being relabeled as Section 3(b)(1).

What is an Accredited Investor or a Qualified Institutional Investor Anyway?

Title II of the JOBS Act provides that the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. The JOBS Act directs the SEC to make the same amendment to Rule 144A so long as all purchasers in the Rule 144A offering are qualified institutional buyers. Neither a Rule 506 offering nor a Rule 144A offering will be considered a public offering (i.e. will lose its exemption) by virtue of a general solicitation or general advertising so long as the issuer has taken reasonable steps to verify that purchasers are either accredited investors or qualified institutional buyers, respectively. Since it would be impossible to ensure that only accredited investors, or qualified institutional buyers, receive, review or become aware of general solicitations and advertisements, the rule focuses on ensuring that the purchasers qualify.

FINRA Seeks Public Comment in Advance of Crowdfunding Rulemaking

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has requested public comment and input in advance of preparing and publishing proposed rules related to the Crowdfunding Act. The scope of the FINRA rules will be written specifically for registered funding portals and although they will need to be complementary to the SEC rules, it is intended that they not be duplicative. FINRA has set August 31, 2012 as the deadline for receiving comments.

SEC Still on Track to Meet the 270 Deadline to Enact Crowdfunding Rules

The SEC is still on track and expects to meet the 270 day deadline to draft rules and enact Title III of the JOBS Act creating the new crowdfunding exemption.

As I wrote about before the July 4th holiday, on June 25th, in prepared testimony, Mary Schapiro told a U.S. House oversight panel that certain rule writing deadlines imposed by the JOBS Act “are not achievable.” In particular, the SEC could not meet the 90 day deadline to amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. “The 90-day deadline does not provide a realistic timeframe for the drafting of the new rule, the preparation of an accompanying economic analysis, the proper review by the commission, and an opportunity for public input,” she said.

SEC Will Not Meet Deadline to Remove Ban on General Solicitation and Advertising in Private Offerings and Hedge Funds

The SEC won’t make the 90-day deadline to draft rules and enact Title II of the JOBS Act eliminating the ban on advertising and general solicitation for private placements and allowing advertising by hedge funds, Mary Schapiro, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman told a U.S. House oversight panel on June 27, 2012. In prepared testimony, Mary Schapiro told a U.S. House oversight panel that certain rule writing deadlines imposed by the JOBS Act “are not achievable.”

Crowdfunding Act – What about state securities laws?

On April 5, 2012 President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. Part of the JOBS Act is the Crowdfunding Act, the full title of which is the “Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act of 2012”. The SEC has been mandated with the task of drafting the crowdfunding rules and regulations by early 2013.

SEC Approves Revision to FINRA Rule Regarding Broker Dealer FINRA Filing Requirements for Private Placement Offerings

On June 7, 2012 the SEC granted accelerated approval to a FINRA rule change regarding broker dealer FINRA filing requirements for activities associated with private placement offerings. The rule was originally drafted to address disclosures that must be provided to investors prior to an investment and disclosure that must be provided to FINRA following a sale in a private placement, regarding use of proceeds, the amount and type of offering expenses, and all offering related compensation to be paid to placement agents, finders, associated persons and the like.

American Bar Association Comments On Title II Of The JOBS Act

Summary of Title II

Title II of the JOBS Act provides that, within 90 days of the passage of the JOBS Act (i.e. July 5, 2012), the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. The JOBS Act directs the SEC to make the same amendment to Rule 144A so long as all purchasers in the Rule 144A offering are qualified institutional buyers. Neither a Rule 506 offering nor a Rule 144A offering will be considered a public offering (i.e. will lose its exemption) by virtue of a general solicitation or general advertising so long as the issuer has taken reasonable steps to verify that purchasers are either accredited investors or qualified institutional buyers, respectively. Since it would be impossible to ensure that only accredited investors, or qualified institutional buyers, receive, review or become aware of general solicitations and advertisements, the rule focuses on ensuring that the purchasers qualify.

Comments In Advance To Rule Making On Elimination On Advertising And Solicitation Ban For Certain Private Offerings

Title II of the JOBS Act provides that, within 90 days of the passage of the JOBS Act (i.e. July 5, 2012), the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. The JOBS Act directs the SEC to make the same amendment to Rule 144A so long as all purchasers in the Rule 144A offering are qualified institutional buyers. Neither a Rule 506 offering nor a Rule 144A offering will be considered a public offering (i.e. will lose its exemption) by virtue of a general solicitation or general advertising so long as the issuer has taken reasonable steps to verify that purchasers are either accredited investors or qualified institutional buyers, respectively. Since it would be impossible to ensure that only accredited investors, or qualified institutional buyers, receive, review or become aware of general

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