Law Blog Tag: Private Placement
As I recently blogged, the President has signed the Jobs Act including the much anticipated Crowdfunding bill. Crowdfunding is a process whereby companies will be able to raise small amounts of money either directly off their own website or using intermediaries set up for the purpose. The Securities Act of 1933, as amended, (Securities Act) prohibits the sale or delivery of any security unless such security is either registered or exempt from registration. Crowdfunding will be an exemption from registration. The exemption will likely be codified as a new and separate exemption likely under Regulation D and will include an overhaul of the current general provisions of Regulation D found in Rules 501-503.
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(6) provides a registration exemption for offerings to accredited
investors, if the aggregate offering amounts up to the dollar limit of
Section 3(b) (currently $5,000,000), if there is no advertising or public
solicitation in connection with the transaction by the Issuer or anyone
acting on the Issuer’s behalf.
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.
The integration doctrine prevents issuers from circumventing the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1934 by determining whether two or more securities offerings are really one offering that does not qualify as an exempt offering, or an exempt offering is really part of a registered public offering.