This week, in a nearly 300-page release, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed significant changes to its rules applicable to online equity crowdfunding and other securities offerings that are exempt from SEC registration.
These kinds of offerings generally are most advantageous to smaller and emerging companies that have limited funds to spend on raising capital. Last year, exempt securities offerings accounted for an estimated $2.7 trillion (69.2%) of new capital, compared to $1.2 trillion (30.8%) raised through SEC-registered offerings.
On September 26, 2019, the SEC announced that all issuers —including non-reporting issuers and investment companies (including registered investment companies and business development companies) will soon be able to “test-the-waters” in initial public offerings and other registered securities offerings. Under the newly adopted Rule 163B, any issuer will be able to engage in “test-the-waters” communications with qualified institutional buyers and institutional accredited investors.
Previously, under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, only emerging growth companies were permitted to engage in “test-the-waters” communications. Rule 163B provides relief from the from restrictions imposed by Section 5 of the Securities Act on written and oral offers prior to, or after filing, a registration statement for issuers who do not qualify as emerging growth companies. This will give all issuers “flexibility in determining whether to proceed with a registered public offering while maintaining appropriate investor protections.”
In late May, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. Although the president and many Republican members of Congress had threatened to repeal and replace Dodd-Frank, the new law’s actual changes are relatively minor. The new law rolls back some of the post-financial crisis legislation enacted in 2010, particularly for smaller community banks and credit unions. But it largely leaves intact the core framework of Dodd-Frank.
Under the FAST Act mandate, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted on October 11, 2017 to propose amendments to Regulation S-K and related rules and forms aimed at modernizing and simplifying the current disclosure requirements for investment companies, public companies, and investment advisers.
What are the Proposed Amendments?
If adopted, the amendments would:
Revise rules or forms to update, streamline or otherwise improve the Commission’s disclosure framework by eliminating the risk factor examples listed in the disclosure requirement and revising the description of property requirement to emphasize the materiality threshold;
Update rules to account for developments since their adoption or last amendment by eliminating certain requirements for undertakings in registration statements;
Simplify disclosure or the disclosure process, including proposed changes to exhibit filing requirements and the related process for confidential treatment requests and changes to Management’s Discussion and Analysis that would allow for flexibility in discussing historical periods; and
Incorporate technology to improve access to information by requiring data tagging for items on the cover page of certain filings and the use of hyperlinks for information that is incorporated by reference and available on EDGAR.