Monthly Archives: November 2015

Evolution of the Audit Committee – Part Five – Voluntary Disclosures in the News

Over the last two months we have done a series of blog posts about audit committee oversight and disclosure issues. One of the major topics under discussion within, among and about audit committees is what information should they disclose about their oversight of the audit, financial reporting and ICFR processes. Most observers agree that effective audit committee oversight is critical to success in these areas. And, many also believe that more information about how individual audit committees exercise this oversight will be valuable to investors and other stakeholders.

In our post on October 30 we reviewed the SEC’s Concept Release discussing possible incremental disclosures about this oversight. You can review it here:

Out in the real world it turns out that many companies are voluntarily making disclosures beyond those currently required by the SEC. On November 3, 2015 the Center for Audit Quality and Audit Analytics released their second “Audit Committee Transparency Barometer”. This “Barometer” is a survey of actual audit committee disclosures. Interestingly, this report shows that many companies are voluntarily going beyond required audit committee disclosures.

If you are not familiar with the CAQ you can read about it in our June 16, 2015 post at:

The press release about this second “Barometer” report and a link to the full report are at:

It makes for very interesting reading and provides valuable information in the search for “best practices” for audit committee disclosures. The report focuses on audit committee disclosures about external auditor oversight for companies in the S&P Composite 1500. As you read it you will see many companies voluntarily disclose information about topics ranging from issues considered in recommending the audit firm for appointment/reappointment to the audit committees role in selecting the engagement partner.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Debt Versus Equity – More on Ratchets

On November 3 we blogged about debt versus equity issues and how in late stage financings investors were demanding price adjustment and conversion rate adjustment features such as ratchet provisions. In essence this was to protect late round investors if the valuations they used for their investment was substantially higher than the IPO valuation.

As you may have been following, Square has just completed their IPO. Here is an excerpt from Square’s stockholder’s equity note in their financial statements:

The initial conversion price for the convertible preferred stock is $0.21627 for the Series A preferred stock, $0.71977 for the Series B-1 preferred stock, $0.95369 for the Series B-2 preferred stock, $5.79817 for the Series C preferred stock, $11.014 for the Series D preferred stock, and $15.46345 for the Series E preferred stock. In the event the Company issues shares of additional stock, subject to customary exceptions, after the preferred stock original issue date without consideration or for a consideration per share less than the initial conversion price in effect immediately prior to such issuance, then and in each such event the conversion price shall be reduced to a price equal to such conversion price multiplied by the following fraction:

the numerator of which is equal to the deemed number of shares of common stock outstanding plus the number of shares of common stock, that the aggregate consideration received by the Company for the total number of additional shares of common stock so issued would purchase at the conversion price immediately prior to such issuance; and

the denominator of which is equal to the deemed number of shares of common stock outstanding immediately prior to such issuance plus the deemed number of additional shares of common stock so issued.

Series E preferred stock contains a provision for the adjustment of conversion price upon a public offering. In the event of such offering, in which the price per share of the Company’s common stock is less than $18.55614 (adjusted for stock splits, stock dividends, etc.), then the then-existing conversion price for the Series E preferred stock shall be adjusted so that, as of immediately prior to the completion of such public offering, each share of Series E preferred stock shall convert into (A) the number of shares of common stock issuable on conversion of such share of Series E preferred stock; and (B) an additional number of shares of common stock equal to (x) the difference between $18.55614 and the public offering price, (y) divided by the public offering share price.

The language above is not very easy to understand, but there are various price adjustment features and the instruments that have them were entered into at various points in time, including some later stage investments. So, the debt versus equity issues is present.

Square’s IPO priced at $9, (actually below the expected price range, but the company did get a nice day one price rise on the exchange) so Square will have to make up shares to these later stage investors. This is a simple example where late stage financing valuations were higher than the IPO price.

Here are two links to information about the transaction. Buzzfeed has a nice summary of the deal at:
Here is a WSJ article where the WSJ somehow wanted to call this ratchet a “penalty”:

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!



P.S. And, just in case this is relevant to you, here is a link to our new workshop “Debt vs. Equity Accounting for Complex Financial Instruments”. This new case-driven workshop will be presented five times next year.

Revenue Recognition Help From FinREC

As you know the new FASB and IASB revenue recognition standards supersede all our existing revenue recognition guidance. Here in the US the new standard was such a major change that it was placed in a brand new codification section (ASC 606). One of the major changes with the new model is how it treats “specialized industries”. Many industries, such as software and construction, had specialized industry revenue recognition guidance. All those standards are also superseded. These industries now face many questions and uncertainties about how to apply the new revenue recognition model to unique and different transactions.

The new model, designed to make revenue recognition principles consistent across all industries, is much more general and does not include the detailed kind of guidance that old GAAP frequently provided. This potentially increases the risk that there could be diversity within industries in the application of the new standard.

FinREC, the Financial Reporting Executive Committee of the AICPA, and the AICPA’s Revenue Recognition Task Force have been working to help deal with these issues. They have established 16 industry groups and are developing a new “Accounting Guide for Revenue Recognition”. These resources will be developed with participation and review of standard setters, but will not be authoritative. The groups describe them as eventually providing “helpful hints and illustrative examples for how to apply the new Revenue Recognition Standard.”

They have published a list of potential implementation issues identified to date which you can find at:

As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated!

Leases – News on the International Front

As we all wait with baited breath for news from Norwalk as the FASB staff completes drafting the final version of the new standard on Lease Accounting, the IASB has announced that they have formally finished their project. In their project summary the IASB now states:

“The IASB has completed its decision making for the Leases project. The new Leases Standard will be effective from 1 January 2019. The IASB plans to issue the new Leases Standard before the end of 2015.”

You can find the project summary at:

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A Bit of SEC Trivia – Form 10

During our Workshops we discuss a lot of detailed information, some of which does not come up often in practice. With this in mind, we thought we would start a series of blog posts about some of these “trivia” topics.

The first trivia question is “What is Form 10 all about?”

Turns out Form 10 is a behind the scenes issue in a current news story. On November 1, 2015, HP officially completed the process of splitting itself up into two separate companies:

HP, Inc. (ticker HPQ) which has the legacy HP PC and printer businesses. This company describes itself with these words:

“Our vision is to create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere — every person, every organization, and every community around the globe. This motivates us — inspires us — to do what we do. To make what we make. To invent, and to reinvent. To engineer experiences that amaze. We won’t stop pushing ahead, because you won’t stop pushing ahead. You’re reinventing how you work. How you play. How you live. With our technology, you’ll reinvent your world.” (From

 Hewlett Packard Enterprise (ticker HPE) which has the HP services and corporate hardware businesses uses these words:

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is an industry leading technology company that enables customers to go further, faster. With the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio, spanning the cloud to the data center to workplace applications, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s technology and services help customers around the world make IT more efficient, more productive and more secure. (From

Behind this split is a myriad of fascinating business reasons, which will doubtless become business school cases in the future. What is fun about the transaction for SEC geeks is how it was accomplished in the public company reporting world. HPE was separated out from HP, essentially a “spin-off” transaction. There were a lot of legal steps in the process, but in essence there was no public offering of HPE stock, it was distributed to the existing HP shareholders.

After the spin-off both companies wanted to trade on the NYSE. For HP Inc. this was easy; this is the corporate entity that was already listed, so no big deal. But what about the newly created HPE?

There is no transaction here to register under the 1933 Act, as stock is not being offered or sold to the public; it is being directly distributed to the existing HP shareholders. So there is no S-1 or S-3 or S-4 to file.

This is where the Form 10 comes in. It is a company’s first, and probably only, 1934 Act registration statement, and is the way a company “registers” under the 1934 Act when it trips over the size tests in the 1934 Act, which HPE did when it distributed stock to more than 2,000 persons. As a result, HPE will start the corresponding periodic and current reporting requirements. So the only SEC filing that HPE had to make in connection with the distribution of its stock to the existing HP shareholders was a Form 10.

To simplify a bit, 1934 Act registration is required if a company has a class of equity security held by 2,000 or more persons or 500 persons who are not accredited investors and over $10 million in assets or if the company wants to list on a national security exchange. Of course HPE met the requirements, and so HPE filed a Form 10. (There is of course more complexity to the registration issue, so if you have to deal with it careful research is required!)

Form 10 is a lot like a Form 10-K and you can see HPE’s Form 10 at:

In this filing, the Form 10 itself is a shell, and you will find all the relevant information in Exhibit 99.1.

If you have any SEC trivia you would like us to explore, please let Carol or George know, and as always, your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated.

One last little trivia note – if you do a ticker search for HP, guess what company has this ticker? Helmerick and Payne, a contract oil and gas drilling company. Who would have guessed?

Comment of the Week – Debt Versus Equity Issues on the Rise?

The genesis of this post is actually a panel discussion from PLI’s 47th Annual Institute on Securities Regulation. This program is one of our major events in the CLE world. The roster of speakers is amazing, starting with a keynote address from Chair White and featuring so many SEC alums, current staffers and industry professionals that an SEC geek simply can’t resist the program.

Anyway, on the first day of the conference the first panel discussed capital market “health” in the current environment. One of the market developments they discussed was financing rounds companies complete shortly before an IPO. In the current environment more and more late round investors are demanding “price protection”. This “price protection” includes instruments like warrants with adjustable prices (ratchets or down-rounds) and preferred stock with adjustable conversions options.

(The staff does write comments about these kinds of instruments, and we have a few examples below.)

It turns out that sometimes the valuations used for these private placements shortly before an IPO don’t follow through to the valuations in the IPO. So the late round investors ask for price protection so they won’t seem to have overpaid shortly before an IPO. (This dovetails very nicely with the recent discussion in the financial press about how valuations for “unicorn” companies may be overstated in the current tech world.)

This is exactly the kind of price protection that has been common in emerging companies that have been far from the IPO process, and it is these kinds of instruments that have been the cause of so many restatements.

If you have ever attended any of our Midyear, Annual or Mid-Sized and Smaller Company SEC Reporting & FASB Forums you are familiar with the continuously updated list of restatement issues we discuss at those conferences. For the last seven years, the number one cause of restatements by public companies has been debt versus equity accounting. Instruments such as warrants with repricing provisions combined with the convoluted, complex accounting guidance in this area have caused more restatements than any other issue.

Being one of the few accountants in the Institute on Securities Regulation it was fascinating listening to the lawyers discuss these complex instruments. The discussion of disclosures that should surround these complex instruments and their unique features was deep and rich. No one however mentioned the accounting issues that they create, and the risk of restatement that goes along with this accounting complexity.

It was a great reminder that as accounting professionals we need to be on the watch for this issue and when we see it raise the accounting issues and assure they are dealt with effectively. This is one of the times when communication between finance, legal and accounting professionals is crucial.

If you would like to review an example of the accounting these instruments create, one of the participants on the panel was from BOX, a successful IPO which had this exact situation. In their first Form 10-K and their S-1 you can find a derivative liability on their balance sheet and a related fair value adjustment in their income statement related to redeemable preferred stock warrants they issued which were derivatives. You can find their Form 10-K at:

And, last, here are a couple of example comments. All of this really emphasizes the need to be aware of this issue and build the skills to recognize the issue and deal with it effectively.

It appears the exchangeable senior notes issued in August 2014 contain redemption features. Provide us your analysis that supports your conclusion that none of the redemption features are required to be bifurcated in accordance with ASC 815-15. Specifically address whether the debt involves a substantial discount in accordance with ASC 815-15-25-40 through [25-43].

We note your disclosure that the 1.25% Notes contain an embedded cash conversion option and that you have determined that this option is a derivative financial instrument that is required to be separated from the notes. Please provide us with the details of your analysis in determining that this conversion option should be accounted for separately as a derivative and refer to the specific accounting literature you relied on.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

P.S. And, just in case this is relevant to you, here is a link to our new workshop “Debt vs. Equity Accounting for Complex Financial Instruments”. This new case-driven workshop will be presented five times next year.