Law Blog Category: Section 4(2)
Proposed Rules Eliminating the Prohibition Against General Solicitation and Advertising in Rules 506 and 144A Offerings – Part I
As required by Title II of the JOBS Act, the SEC has published proposed rules eliminating the prohibition against general solicitation and advertising in Rules 506 and 144A offerings. In a move that is widely supported by legal practitioners, including the Federal Regulation of Securities Committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association, the SEC has proposed simple modifications to Regulation D and Rule 144A mirroring the JOBS Act requirement. In fact, in the rule release the SEC states that it is “proposing only those rule and form amendments that are, in our view, necessary to implement the mandate” in the JOBS Act. The entire text of the rule release is available on the SEC website.
Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as Amended (“Securities Act”) provides the statutory basis for private placement offerings. In particular, Section 4(2) exempts “transactions by an issuer not involving any public offering.” The key components of this statutory exemption are that the offering must be by the Issuer, not an affiliate, agent or third party, and that the transactions must not involve a public offering. In order to determine if there is a public offering, practitioners must consider Section 2(11) of the Securities Act which defines an underwriter. The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and courts limit the scope of Section 4(2) by preventing indirect public offerings by issuers and control persons through third parties. Accordingly, if an investor acts as a link in the chain of transactions resulting in securities being distributed to the public, they are an underwriter, and the exemption under Section 4(2) is not available.
Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 provides that the registration requirements of Section 5 do not apply to “transactions by an issuer not involving any public offering.” The definition of an “issuer” is pretty straightforward as found in Section 2(a)(4) and includes, “the person who issues or proposes to issue” a security and is understood to mean the entity that originally sells the securities. However, not so straightforward is what constitutes a “public offering,” which term is not defined in the Securities Act. In reliance on Section 4(2) the SEC enacted Rule 506 as part of Regulation D.