Law Blog Tag: SEC Reporting Requirements
On April 5, 2012 President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. In my excitement over this ground-breaking new law, I have been zealously blogging about the Crowdfunding portion of the JOBS Act. However, the JOBS Act impacts securities laws in many additional ways. The following is a summary of the many ways the JOBS Act will amend current securities regulations, all in ways to support small businesses.
Over the past few years, the historical “PinkSheets” has undergone some major changes, starting with the creation of certain “tiers” of issuers and culminating in its newly refurbished website and new URL www.otcmarkets.com. Where the term “PinkSheets” used to denote an over the counter quotation system using the website www.pinksheets.com it now simply refers to the lower tier of entities that trade on the over the counter market. In fact the URL www.pinksheets.com no longer exists with users being redirected to the new www.otcmarkets.com.
A subsidiary spin-off is a transaction where a parent corporation’s stock ownership of a subsidiary is distributed to the parent corporation’s shareholders giving the shareholders direct ownership of the former subsidiary. Typically, the subsidiary shares are distributed to the shareholders pro rata as a dividend. In fact, two of the requirements for an unregistered spin-off, as set forth in Staff Legal Bulletin No. 4 issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, are that the distribution be pro rata and that no consideration be paid by the shareholders (i.e. a dividend).
Although Regulation A is legally an exemption from the registration requirements contained in Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as a practical matter it is more analogous to registration than any other exemption. In particular, Regulation A provides for the filing of an offering prospectus which closely resembles a registration statement, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC then can, and often does, comment on the filing. Practitioners often refer to Regulation A as a short form registration.
A Form 10 Registration Statement is a registration statement used to register a class of securities pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”). To explain a Form 10 registration statement, let’s start with what it isn’t. It is not used to register specific securities for sale or re-sale and does not change the transferability of any securities. That is, a Form 10 registration statement does not register a security for the purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) . Following the effectiveness of a Form 10 registration statement, restricted securities remain restricted and free trading securities remain free trading.
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.
Technically Rule 144 provides a safe harbor from the definition of the term “underwriter” such that a selling shareholder may utilize the exemption contained in Section 4(1) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, to sell their restricted securities. In addition, Rule 144 is used to remove the restrictive legend from securities in advance of a sale. In layman terms, Rule 144, allows shareholders to either remove the restrictive legend or sell their unregistered shares.
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) integration guidance in Securities Act Release No. 8828 (August 3, 2007) sets forth a framework for analyzing potential integration issues in the specific situation of concurrent private and public offerings. The guidance clarifies that, under appropriate circumstances, there can be a side-by-side private offering under Securities Act Rule 4(2) or the Securities Act Rule 506 safe harbor, with a registered public offering.
The Securities Act of 1933 recognizes two broad types of exemptions to the registration requirements of Section 5, exempt securities and exempt transactions.
The Exempt securities are set forth in Sections 3(a)(1) – (8), (13) and (14) of the Securities Act. Exempt securities are continuously exempt from the registration requirements regardless of the nature of the transaction in which they may be offered, issued, sold or resold. Examples of exempt securities which may be publicly offered, issued, sold and resold by their issuers or any other person without registration include…