SEC Amends Definition of “A Smaller Reporting Company”
Posted by Laura Anthony, Esq. on August 28, 2018
Today is the first in a LawCast series talking about the new amendment to the SEC definition of a smaller reporting company. On June 28, 2018, the SEC adopted the much-anticipated amendments to the definition of a “smaller reporting company” as contained in Securities Act Rule 405, Exchange Act Rule 12b-2 and Item 10(f) of Regulation S-K. The topic of disclosure requirements under Regulation S-K as pertains to disclosures made in reports and registration statements filed under the Exchange Act and Securities Act have come to the forefront over the past couple of years. Regulation S-K, as amended over the years, was adopted as part of a uniform disclosure initiative to provide a single regulatory source related to non-financial statement disclosures and information required to be included in registration statements and reports filed under the Exchange Act and the Securities Act.
A public company with a class of securities registered under either Section 12 or which is subject to Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act must file reports with the SEC. The underlying basis of the Reporting Requirements is to keep shareholders and the markets informed on a regular basis in a transparent manner. Over the years Regulation S-K has not been kept current with other Rule changes, the arduous reporting requirements for smaller companies has resulted in stifled capital formation and fewer smaller IPOs, and investors have questioned the quality and relevancy of information required to be included in reports.
The SEC disclosure requirements are scaled based on company size. The SEC established the smaller reporting company category in 2007 to provide general regulatory relief to these entities. Prior to this rule change, a “smaller reporting company” was defined in Securities Act rule 405, Exchange Act Rule 12b-2 and Item 10(f) of Regulation S-K, as one that: (i) has a public float of less than $75 million as of the last day of their most recently completed second fiscal quarter; or (ii) a zero public float and annual revenues of less than $50 million during the most recently completed fiscal year for which audited financial statements are available.
As indicated in part 1 in this LawCast series, the new definition of a SRC will now include companies with less than a $250 million public float as compared to the $75 million threshold in the prior definition. In addition, if a company does not have an ascertainable public float or has a public float of less than $700 million, a SRC will be one with less than $100 million in annual revenues during its most recently completed fiscal year.
The SEC has competing goals of protecting investors and the marketplace through requiring companies to provide disclosure needed to make informed investment and voting decisions and promoting capital formation and reducing compliance costs for smaller companies. The SEC believes that by raising the financial thresholds for the smaller reporting company definition and thereby expanding the number of companies eligible to use the available scaled disclosure, it will be satisfying its goals and appropriately responding to comments and recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Growth Companies, the SEC Government Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation, Congress and industry commenters.
The SEC summarizes many of these recommendations, initiatives and comments in its rule release. For example, in September 2015 the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies met and finalized its recommendation to the SEC regarding changes to the disclosure requirements for smaller publicly traded companies. The FAST Act, which was passed into law on December 4, 2015, required the SEC to scale or eliminate duplicative, antiquated or unnecessary disclosure requirements for emerging growth companies, accelerated filers, smaller reporting companies and other smaller issuers in Regulation S-K.