The SEC Pulse

S&W Client Advisory: FAST Act Legislation Eases Capital Raising Restrictions And Seeks To Simplify Disclosure Requirements

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on January 6, 2016 at 11:40 AM

In December 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). Buried in the hundreds of unrelated pages of the FAST Act are several provisions that modify the previously adopted Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act). The FAST Act impacts capital raising for emerging growth companies (EGCs), seeks to simplify disclosure requirements for reporting companies, codifies a previously informal exemption from registration for resales of securities and streamlines the registration process for smaller reporting companies. The key securities provisions of the FAST Act are summarized below.

Click below to read the complete Client Advisory, co-authored by S&W attorneys Howard Berkenblit, Rob Condon, Jeff Morlend and Avi Rao.

View Advisory

Topics: the JOBS Act, FAST Act, reporting requirements, emerging growth companies

Crowdfunding – What You Need To Know

Posted by Jeffrey Morlend on November 12, 2015 at 12:02 PM

New Developments in Crowdfunding from the SEC

The SEC recently issued under the JOBS Act the long-awaited crowdfunding rules, whereby small businesses may raise capital from a large number of investors, each of whom contributes a small amount of money, without going through the trouble of filing a registration statement with the SEC.  However, it is important to understand the limits and filing requirements imposed by the SEC before moving forward with a crowdfunding transaction.  

  1. Limits.  As much as we’d each like to go collect $5 from every person we’ve ever met, the SEC has imposed several limits on crowdfunding in order to protect investors.  To qualify for the registration exemption, the aggregate amount of securities sold by a company to all investors in a crowdfunding transaction during a 12-month period cannot exceed $1 million.  In addition, the aggregate amount of securities sold by a company to any one investor in a crowdfunding transaction cannot exceed certain limits – if the investor’s annual income or net worth is less than $100,000, the limit is the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of the investor’s annual income or net worth, and if both the investor’s annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000, the limit is 10% of the lesser of the investor’s annual income or net worth.  Still with me?  The SEC has also limited the aggregate amount of securities sold to one investor through all crowdfunding transactions to a maximum of $100,000.   In addition to these limits, a crowdfunding transaction must be done using one – and only one – intermediary (i.e., broker or funding portal).  So if you were thinking about crowdfunding through your website or by using multiple funding portals, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 
  1. Issuer Requirements.  As mentioned above, the crowdfunding rules exempt a company from filing a registration statement with the SEC, but create a different obligation to file a new “Form C” with the SEC.  The Form C, despite not being as full-blown as a registration statement, still requires detailed disclosures.  As of the date of this post, the Form C was not available on the SEC’s website, but the crowdfunding rules tell us that it will require disclosures such as descriptions of the company, financial condition, intended use of proceeds, targeted amount of money to be raised and price per share.  Notably, a company will need to provide a complete set of financial statements that are, depending on the amount of securities offered and sold in a crowdfunding transaction during a 12-month period, accompanied by information from the company’s tax returns, reviewed by an independent public accountant or audited by an independent auditor.  A company that relies on these rules for the first time would be permitted to provide reviewed rather than audited financial statements, unless its audited financial statements are available.  The Form C will also require disclosures about the company’s officers, directors and any beneficial owners of 20% or more.  Each required disclosure has a specific description as to what needs to be included in the Form C, so be sure to read each rule and each instruction to each rule once the Form C becomes available. 
  1. Intermediary Requirements.  If you’re interested in crowdfunding from the perspective of the intermediary, this is where your ears perk up.  Any person acting as an intermediary in a crowdfunding transaction must register with the SEC as either a broker or funding portal.  These registration requirements are also very detailed and include registering with applicable self-regulatory organizations in addition to the SEC.  The crowdfunding rules also prohibit an intermediary’s directors, officers or partners from having any financial interest in any company using its services, so be careful to do your research before getting involved in a crowdfunding transaction. 

The crowdfunding rules are rather extensive and the above summary is intended only to give some quick answers to the questions we’ve received so far.  Remember that the crowdfunding rules, while making it easier for companies to raise capital, are designed with the intention of preventing fraud and protecting investors.  Stay tuned as these rules are put to the test. For more information about the JOBS Act, go to our portal below. 

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Topics: the JOBS Act, crowdfunding, SEC

SEC adopts rules permitting crowdfunding

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on October 30, 2015 at 5:04 PM

As mandated by the JOBS Act, the SEC today adopted rules that permit private companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. The new rules (and additional proposed amendments to existing intrastate offering exemptions) are designed to assist smaller companies with capital formation and provide investors with additional protections. 

While the final rules have not yet been released, they will permit a company to raise up to $1 million through crowdfunding efforts in a 12-month period and permit individual investors over a 12-month period to invest in the aggregate across all crowdfunding offerings up to (a) if either their annual income or net worth is less than $100,000, the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of their annual income or net worth and (b) if both their annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000, 10% of the lesser of their annual income or net worth. In addition, the rules will permit during the 12-month period, an aggregate amount of $100,000 of securities to be sold to an investor through all crowdfunding offerings. Securities purchased in a crowdfunding transaction generally will not be able to be resold for one year. Several disclosures regarding the use of crowdfunding will be required to be filed with the SEC by companies using crowdfunding efforts, including financial statements that must be audited or accompanied by tax returns if certain thresholds are exceeded, as well as annual reports.

Additional details regarding these rules are available here. The rules will be effective sometime next May (180 days after publication in the Federal Register, which should occur in the next week or two).

The rules also set forth requirements for crowdfunding portals. The forms enabling funding portals to register with the SEC will be effective January 29, 2016.

Topics: the JOBS Act, crowdfunding

S&W Client Advisory: SEC Adopts “Regulation A+” Creating a New Category of Exempt Private Placements

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on April 9, 2015 at 5:18 PM

The SEC has adopted new rules that provide for an additional category of offerings exempt from registration under the Securities Act. This new “Regulation A+” restatement of the Regulation A exemption was mandated by the JOBS Act and is intended to make the previously underutilized Regulation A more useful to smaller companies engaged in capital-raising offerings.

Click below to read the complete Client Advisory, co-authored by S&W attorneys Howard Berkenblit, Ed Miller and Will Hanson.

View Advisory

Topics: the JOBS Act, Regulation A, Regulation A exemption, Tier 1, Tier 2, offerings

Regulation "A+" adopted by SEC

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on March 25, 2015 at 12:06 PM

The SEC today adopted final rules to update and expand Regulation A, an existing exemption from registration for smaller issuers of securities. The rules are mandated by Title IV of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. The updated exemption will enable smaller companies to offer and sell up to $50 million of securities in a 12-month period, subject to eligibility, disclosure and reporting requirements. 

The final rules, often referred to as Regulation A+, provide for two tiers of offerings: Tier 1, for offerings of securities of up to $20 million in a 12-month period, with not more than $6 million in offers by selling security-holders that are affiliates of the issuer; and Tier 2, for offerings of securities of up to $50 million in a 12-month period, with not more than $15 million in offers by selling security-holders that are affiliates of the issuer. Both Tiers are subject to certain basic requirements while Tier 2 offerings are also subject to additional disclosure and ongoing reporting requirements.

The final rules also provide for the preemption of state securities law registration and qualification requirements for securities offered or sold to "qualified purchasers" in Tier 2 offerings. Tier 1 offerings will be subject to federal and state registration and qualification requirements, and issuers may take advantage of the coordinated review program developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

Topics: the JOBS Act, SEC, Regulation A, Jumpstart Our Business Startups, qualified purchasers

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The SEC Pulse provides updates and commentary from our Capital Markets Group on issues affecting publicly traded and privately owned businesses, investment banks and foreign companies who trade or raise capital in the United States, and boards of directors and company officers in securities transactions and corporate governance matters. 

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