A PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) transaction is typically a private placement of equity or equity-linked securities by a public company to accredited investors that is followed by the registration of the resale of those securities with the SEC. Generally the securities are sold at a discount to market price. A traditional PIPE generally involves a fixed number of securities at a fixed price, with the closing conditioned only on the effectiveness of a resale registration statement. Any transaction that does not fall within this parameter is considered non-traditional and the structure can vary widely, including for example price variables (such as a death spiral), warrants and options, convertible securities and equity line transactions.
Traditional PIPE Transactions
In particular, a traditional PIPE is generally a set number of securities at a set price (which may be a discount to market at the time of close) and is conditioned only upon the effectiveness of a re-sale registration statement. A traditional PIPE where the price is a discount to market would differentiate from a non-traditional death spiral in that there would only be one closing in the traditional PIPE and there would be multiple closings with continued downward pressure on the stock price and a continued dilutive effect with a non-traditional death spiral. The transaction documents associated with a traditional PIPE are generally very straight forward and do not contain ongoing negative covenants relating to information rights, future financing or corporate governance.
The terms of a non-traditional PIPE can vary widely but the basic requirements that the investment decision be completed in a private transaction prior to the filing of a registration statement and that the investor bear the risk of an investment are consistent.
Re-Sale Registration Statements
The SEC allows the filing of a re-sale registration statement for a PIPE if 1) the initial sale or placement of securities is conducted in a manner consistent with a private placement (no general solicitation or advertising and offerings made to accredited investors) and 2) the investors enter into definitive commitments which are only subject to the satisfaction of closing conditions outside the control of the investor, such as the effectiveness of a re-sale registration statement (that is, investor has made the investment decision and assumed the risk prior to the filing of the registration statement).
Section 9 of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, prevent the Investor from entering into hedging transactions (short sales and the like) from the time of entering into the PIPE transaction agreement through the effectiveness of the registration statement. In addition, Investors must be aware of insider trading rules (Section 10 of the Exchange Act and rules promulgated thereunder), throughout the period of the PIPE transaction. Moreover, the SEC has taken the position that an Investor that engages in short-selling prior to the final closing of PIPE and effectiveness of a registration statement, is engaging the unregistered sale of securities in violation of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
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!