Rule 144- Rule 144 sets forth certain requirements for the use of Section 4(1) for the resale of securities. Section 4(1) of the Securities Act provides an exemption for a transaction “by a person other than an issuer, underwriter, or dealer.” The terms “Issuer” and “dealer” have pretty straightforward meanings under the Securities Act, but the term “underwriter” does not. Rule 144 provides a safe harbor from the definition of “underwriter.” If all the requirements for Rule 144 are met, the seller will not be deemed an underwriter and the purchaser will receive unrestricted securities.
Although not set out in the statute, all transfer agents and Issuers, along with most clearing and brokerage firms, require an opinion of counsel as to the application of Rule 144 prior to removing the legend from securities and allowing their sale under Rule 144. The opinion letter must set forth that the facts regarding that Issuer, particular stock and selling shareholder comply with the requirements under Rule 144.
Rule 144 only addresses the resale of restricted or control securities, not unrestricted securities or sales directly by an Issuer. Unrestricted securities (such as securities that have been registered under the Securities Act) may be sold without reference or regard to the Rule. Control securities are those securities held by an affiliate of the issuing company, and restricted securities are securities acquired in unregistered, private sales from the issuing company or from an affiliate of the Issuer.
Rule 144 provides certain conditions that must be met for sales by both affiliates and non-affiliates which conditions vary depending on whether the Issuer of the securities is a reporting or non-reporting Issuer. The following chart summarizes the Rule 144 requirements…
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