Additional SEC Relief is Revealed

Written by Ignacio Celis-Aguirre

On March 26, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) announced that it would be providing additional temporary regulatory relief to market participants in response to the effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”). This relief addresses: (1) temporary relief from the notarization requirement for Form ID for certain filers who cannot secure a notarization because of COVID-19; (2) extending the filing deadline for specified Regulation A and Regulation Crowdfunding reports and forms from certain companies unable to file timely reports and forms because of COVID-19; and (3) extending the filing deadline for submitting annual update filings (“Form MA-A”) to Form MA for certain municipal advisors affected by COVID-19. Continue reading “Additional SEC Relief is Revealed”

COVID-19 Causes Coverage

SEC Grants Additional Time For Filings Impacted By COVID-19

Written by Blake Baron

Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) provided conditional regulatory relief to those public companies impacted by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) with a 45-day extension to file certain SEC filings that would have been otherwise due between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020. The SEC announced today that it was modifying that prior relief to cover certain filings due on or before July 1, 2020. The SEC acknowledged that many companies’ operations continue to be significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which may result in difficulties for those companies to meet their applicable SEC filing deadlines. Continue reading “COVID-19 Causes Coverage”

SEC Sets Course on COVID-19 Disclosure

Written by Blake Baron

Introduction

On March 25, 2020, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance provided disclosure guidance to public companies to assist in the evaluation of a company’s disclosure obligations with respect to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic and related business and market disruptions.

While it may be difficult for companies to assess or predict the exact impact of COVID-19 on individual companies or entire industries, the SEC explained that a company may have obligations to disclose certain risks and effects to the extent material to investment and voting decisions. Such risks and effects include the impact of COVID-19 on the current state of a company’s operations, management expectations regarding its future effects, a company’s response to the evolving pandemic and operational plans to address such uncertainties. The SEC noted that disclosure of these risks and COVID-19-related effects may be necessary or appropriate in various sections of SEC filings, including, but not limited to, management’s discussion and analysis, the business section, risk factors, legal proceedings, disclosure controls and procedures, internal control over financial reporting, and a company’s financial statements. Continue reading “SEC Sets Course on COVID-19 Disclosure”

Shareholder Distancing

Shareholder Meetings in the Age of “Social Distancing” and COVID-19

Written by Blake Baron

Background

On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) published guidance to assist public companies, investment companies, shareholders and other market participants affected by COVID-19 in connection with their upcoming shareholder meetings. The SEC explained that this guidance was designed to allow these companies to continue to hold their meetings, including through the use of technology, and engage with shareholders under social distancing circumstances, while still complying with the federal securities laws.

Shareholder Meetings – The Impact of COVID-19 and the Natural Transition to Virtual Meetings

Generally, public companies and investment companies are required to hold annual meetings of security holders, with the federal securities laws requiring the delivery of proxy materials to the voting shareholders.  Over the past few years, more and more companies have been transitioning to either complete “virtual” shareholder meetings or “hybrid” meetings, which avoid the need for in-person shareholder attendance. Continue reading “Shareholder Distancing”

SEC Proposes Rule Changes That Will Enable Entrepreneurs to Raise More Capital at Lower Costs

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Photo Credit: istock.com/z_wei

By Mark T. Hiraide

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.

If adopted, the proposed changes will enable entrepreneurs to raise more capital through exempt offerings and simplify certain complex rules, thereby reducing legal costs associated with funding a business. The changes also will continue provisions to protect investors, especially individual retail investors. Continue reading “SEC Proposes Rule Changes That Will Enable Entrepreneurs to Raise More Capital at Lower Costs”

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce’s Provocative Crypto Proposal

Financial technology concept. Fintech. Crypto currency. Electronic money. Cashless payment. Modern Monetary Theory.
Photo Credit: istock.com/metamorworks

By Mark T. Hiraide

In an unusual and courageous move last week, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce (aka “Crypto Mom”) urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt a rule that would exempt the sale of tokens or cryptocurrencies from most provisions of the federal securities laws. It’s courageous in its scope and unusual because she (and her staff) drafted the proposed rule leaving the SEC few excuses to avoid considering it.

If adopted by the SEC, the rule will allow anyone to conduct initial coin offerings (ICOs) of tokens intended to be used to develop a decentralized or functional network, provided, that “Network Maturity” occurs within three-years. “Network Maturity” is defined by the proposed rule as when the network is either (i) no longer controlled by a single group or (ii) is functional, as demonstrated by the ability of token holders to use tokens for the transmission and storage of value, to prove control over the tokens, to participate in an application running on the network or in a manner consistent with the utility of the network. Continue reading “SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce’s Provocative Crypto Proposal”

Amending the Definition of “Accredited Investor”

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By Arina Shulga

The definition of an “accredited investor” is the cornerstone of Regulation D that provides a safe harbor exemption for private placements of securities by startups and more mature companies. Only in 2018, $1.7 trillion was invested into the startup sector by means of Regulation D offerings, out of which $228 billion was raised by companies rather than investment funds. Nearly all of the investors in such offerings were accredited. Now, the definition of an accredited investor may be changing to include new categories of people. This will open the extremely risky but yet extremely lucrative startup investment opportunities to more participants.

This blog focuses on certain proposed changes to the definition as it relates to natural persons.

The definition of “accredited investor” came about in 1982 together with the adoption of Regulation D (although the concept of an “accredited person” was first introduced by Rule 242 in 1980). The following categories of natural persons are deemed to be accredited: Continue reading “Amending the Definition of “Accredited Investor””

FAST Act Update: SEC Adopts Amendments to Modernize and Simplify Public Disclosure

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By Blake Baron and Nimish Patel

 What Happened?

On March 20, 2019, the SEC adopted amendments to modernize and simplify disclosure requirements for public companies. Specifically, the SEC adopted amendments to modernize its disclosure requirements for public filings in a way that the SEC believes will minimize the costs and burdens on public companies while continuing to provide all material information to investors.

Why It Matters

Investors will benefit from these new amendments as they eliminate out-of-date, repetitive and unnecessary disclosure, and should simplify the process by which they assess material information. The SEC hopes investors will benefit from its work to improve disclosure, as they focus on modernizing their disclosure system to meet the expectations of today’s investors while eliminating unnecessary costs and burdens. Continue reading “FAST Act Update: SEC Adopts Amendments to Modernize and Simplify Public Disclosure”

Will Semiannual Reporting Soon Be a Reality for Public Companies?

Adult banking analyst in eyeglasses working at sunny office on laptop while sitting at wooden table.Businessman analyze document in his hands.Graphs and diagramm on notebook screen.Blurred background.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Pinkypills

By Blake Baron & David Gordon

Last week, the President said that in his discussions with the business community on ways to improve the business ecosystem, one particular idea was raised as a means to bolster business: move to a six-month financial reporting calendar from the current quarterly one.

Now, there is an argument to be made for such a move. One could say this would help deter “short-termism,” seeing as how companies would no longer need to focus on meeting analyst expectations on a quarterly basis at the expense of longer term thinking (not to mention this would save businesses time and money). In addition, some executives view quarterly reporting as one of the hindrances to going public and/or maintaining public company status and, as a result, have already been advocating for changes to be made to the current reporting schedule. Continue reading “Will Semiannual Reporting Soon Be a Reality for Public Companies?”

Modernizing and Simplifying Disclosure with the FAST Act Mandate

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Photo credit: iStock.com/jamesteohart

By Blake Baron

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.

Continue reading “Modernizing and Simplifying Disclosure with the FAST Act Mandate”