The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance Comment Letters
Posted by Laura Anthony, Esq. on April 24, 2018
The SEC’s CorpFin Comment Letters- The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, known as CorpFin, reviews and comments upon filings made under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Comment letters are based on a company’s filings and other public information about the company. For instance, CorpFin will review press releases and a company’s website, management communications and speeches, and conference presentations in addition to the company’s filings with the SEC. In comment letters, CorpFin may ask that a company provide additional supplemental information to the staff (such as backup materials to justify factual information such as reference to reports, statistics, market or industry size, etc.), revise disclosure in the document, provide additional disclosure in the reviewed filing or provide additional or different disclosure in future filings. Where a change is requested in future filings, intended disclosures may be provided in the comment letter response for SEC advance approval.
A company generally responds to the particular comment letter with a responsive letter that addresses each comment and, where appropriate, amended filings on the particular report(s) being commented upon. The response letter may refer to changes made in a filing in response to the comment or provide reasoning or explanations as to why a change was not made or in support of a particular disclosure. CorpFin then may issue additional comment letters either on the same question or issue, or additional questions or issues as it continues its review, and analyze the company’s responses. Where a comment letter asks for additional disclosure in future filings, proposed language should be provided to avoid an additional comment once the disclosure is made.
Each comment response should clearly present the company’s position on the pertinent issue in a way that will persuade CorpFin that it is the correct position. Comment responses should cite applicable SEC rules and guidance, and accounting authority (as the comments themselves most often do). Responses should explain how the company’s approach serves to satisfy the SEC’s requirements while providing good disclosure to investors. Responses should address the company’s unique facts and circumstances, and should avoid conclusory or argumentative statements. If it is the company’s position that the technical application of the rule will place too large of a burden on the company, the company should explain how it is burdened and how the alternative provided by the company will provide adequate disclosure for investors.
The comment-and-response process continues until the staff has resolved all comments. No sooner than 20 business days after completion of its review, the SEC will upload all comment letters and responses to the EDGAR database. These comment letters and responses are searchable but are organized by company, not topic, making particular topic searches difficult. When generally searching for comments and responses on a specific topic, third-party advanced searching software is helpful.