JOBS Act Amendments to General Solicitation and Advertising of 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 solicitations and advertisements, the rule focuses on ensuring that the purchasers qualify.

The SEC will need to formulate rules to determine what “reasonable steps” will be required from issuers to verify a purchaser’s status as either an accredited investor or a qualified institutional buyer.

Allowing Middlemen that are not Broker Dealers

In addition, the JOBS Act opens the door for third parties to use general solicitation and advertising to sell and Issuer’s securities without being a registered broker dealer.  In particular, for a Rule 506 offering, a new exemption to the broker dealer registration requirements is added for:

(A) a person that  maintains a platform or mechanism that permits the offer, sale, purchase, or negotiation of or with respect to securities, or permits general solicitations, general advertisements, or similar or related activities by issuers of such securities, whether online, in person, or through any other means (i.e. has a website to advertise and sell other companies securities)

(B) that person or any person associated with that person co-invests in such securities; or

(C) that person or any person associated with that person provides ancillary services with respect to such securities.

Ancillary services are defined in the JOBS Act as (A) the provision of due diligence services, in connection with the offer, sale, purchase, or negotiation of such security, so long as such services do not include, for separate compensation, investment advice or recommendations to issuers or investors; and (B) the provision of standardized documents to the issuers and investors, so long as such person or entity does not negotiate the terms of the issuance for and on behalf of third parties and issuers are not required to use the standardized documents as a condition of using the service.

Finally, the exemption from registration as a broker or dealer also requires that such person and each person associated with such person (A) receives no compensation in connection with the purchase or sale of the security; (B) does not have possession of customer funds or securities in connection with the purchase or sale; and (C) is not subject to statutory disqualification pursuant to Section 3(a)(39) of the Exchange Act (i.e. bad boy provisions).

CONCLUSION

Title II of the JOBS Act allows the use of general solicitation and advertising to raise private funds for Issuers and hedgefunds.  It also removes any doubt that a website or middle man can introduce accredited investors to Issuers and be compensated for their services.  They still can’t collect a commission on the sale, but clearly now non-licensed individuals can make introductions for a fee (presumably an upfront or flat non-performance based fee).  Of course, this rule will allow crowdfunding sites to advertise offerings that will be limited to accredited investors.

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 market including the OTCBB and OTCQB. For almost two decades 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 crowdfunding, registration statements, PIPE transactions, private placements, reverse mergers, and compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 including Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K and the proxy requirements of Section 14. 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 federal and state securities laws and SRO’s such as FINRA and DTC 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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