Tag Archives: JOBS ACT

An IPO Benefit for All – And Perhaps a Look at Policy Direction?

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

One of the most popular parts of the IPO on-ramp created by the JOBS Act allows Emerging Growth Companies (EGCs) to request confidential review of their initial 1933 Act registration statements. Confidential review allows EGCs to keep sensitive financial and other information out of the public spotlight until 15 days before they begin marketing their stock.

 

On June 29, the SEC announced that they will provide this kind of confidential review to all companies in the IPO process. The new benefit will begin July 10. Additionally, the SEC will also permit confidential review for most offerings made within one year of a company’s IPO. The Staff also posted FAQs related to the announcement.

 

 

New Chair Jay Clayton said this about the policy change:

 

“By expanding a popular JOBS Act benefit to all companies, we hope that the next American success story will look to our public markets when they need access to affordable capital. We are striving for efficiency in our processes to encourage more companies to consider going public, which can result in more choices for investors, job creation, and a stronger U.S. economy.”

 

Capital formation is an important part of the SEC’s mission, and this change clearly supports that process.

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

A JOB’s Act Update

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

When Congress passed the JOBS Act in 2012 they built it to last. When financial laws last a long time they frequently need a bit of periodic updating. With all credit to Congress and the drafters who designed the JOBS Act, they included provisions for the SEC to make periodic updates in the Act.

 

On April 5, the SEC made several updates, which include an increase in the revenue threshold to qualify as an Emerging Growth Company to $1,070,000,000, an increase from $1,000,000,000. You can read about all the other updates, most of which relate to Regulation Crowdfunding here.

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Year-End Planning Topic Number 5 – Disclosure Effectiveness

Our year-end conferences have begun with the presentation of our 12th Annual SEC Reporting & FASB Forum for Mid-sized & Smaller Companies in Las Vegas last week and will continue with our 32nd Annual SEC Reporting & FASB Forums in November and December.

Disclosure effectiveness is a theme that is already emerging from CorpFin at these conferences.

As we think about how we communicate with shareholders this is another year-end planning consideration. We have done a number of posts about disclosure effectiveness and how the SEC (and FASB) are working on projects to make disclosure more effective. This project has roots that go back a good way, and both the JOBS Act and the FAST Act have helped it build momentum.

You can find a nice review of the SEC’s Concept Releases and related proposals about disclosure effectiveness here. All this rule making will, of course, require time as the SEC requests comments and revises its proposals based on constituent feedback.

In the meantime, the Staff is sending a clear message to make disclosures more effective right now. At our recent conference, CorpFin reminded everyone that SEC reports are intended to be communication documents as well as compliance documents and suggested actions we can all take in the context of current rules to make communication more effective:

 

Streamline disclosures,

Eliminate outdated information,

Tailor disclosures, focusing on factors unique to the company,

Don’t use comment letters in a generic sense.

 

These ideas fit nicely with the Staff’s previously discussed ideas we have been discussing for quite a while:

 

Reduce repetition,

Focus disclosure,

Eliminate outdated and immaterial information.

 

All of this dovetails together with a speech by Keith Higgins that started the initiative in 2014. And, with this much mention by the Staff, clearly change is in the wind, and we all have an opportunity to get ahead of the change and make communication better.

 

Making changes to annual and quarterly report disclosure is never a simple process, as the number of stakeholders and reviewers make change very challenging. And, thinking about how best to meet the information needs of investors is never easy.

 

However, many companies are already making changes to disclosure. If you want to find examples, check out American Express and GE. Both have been very proactive in this arena.

 

Now is a good time to consider and search for opportunities to make current disclosure more effective!

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Keeping up with the IPO Market – An IPO Resource Update

Last December the US Government passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or FAST Act……um, wait, isn’t this an SEC Reporting Blog? Well, as frequently happens when a “must pass” bill is in the legislative process congress members and senators add many amendments that are unrelated to the original bill. One of those ride-along areas in the FAST Act turns out to be SEC reporting related.

Several of the provisions relate to Emerging Growth Companies and their path through the IPO process. Others relate to disclosure effectiveness and improving the reporting system. Check the last section of this post and you can read a summary of these legislative changes.

Congress tinkering with the IPO process raises the question, just what is the state of the IPO market?

One great resource that provides a weekly update about the IPO market with details by industry and other factors is PWC’s weekly newsletter “Capital Markets Watch”. You can find the current and past issues at:

www.pwc.com/us/en/deals/publications/ipo-watch-weekly.html

The IPO market here in the US was fairly strong last year. That said, uncertainty and market volatility have a strong impact on IPO demand and given this year’s start in the capital markets it is difficult to predict how IPO’s will fare this year. One thing for sure, it will be interesting to watch!

One of the things you learn as you watch the ebb and flow of IPO’s is that there is a clear seasonal pattern in this market, which companies should allow for in their planning. Fall is usually a strong period in this market. Which means it is important to begin the process early in the year.

If you are in the process of considering an IPO, PLI has a wealth of resources. Our treatise “Initial Public Offerings: A Practical Guide to Going Public” will help you build a thorough understanding of the process. You can learn about it at:

www.pli.edu/Content/Treatise/Initial_Public_Offerings_A_Practical_Guide/_/N-4lZ1z12nwi?fromsearch=false&ID=158941

Our full-day conference “Securities Offerings 2016: A Public Offering: How It Is Done”, which will be on March 11 this year, is a good deep-dive into the process. The program will be presented live in New York and is available via webcast also. You can learn all about the program at:

www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Securities_Offerings_2016_A_Public_Offering/_/N-4kZ1z11hzm?fromsearch=false&ID=259900

Lastly, here is a brief summary of the major SEC related provisions of the FAST Act.

This Act:

Updates certain provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), and

Requires the SEC to review and update certain SEC reporting requirements.

The Act’s goal is to make capital raising by smaller companies easier. Some of the changes are self implementing and will take effect immediately, others will require SEC rulemaking.

Under the original provisions of the JOBS Act a company could lose EGC status during the IPO process. This would happen for example if revenues exceeded $1 billion before the effective date of a registration statement. The FAST Act allows a company in the IPO process to “lock in” its EGC status. This status will last for up to one year after the company fails to qualify as an EGC. In this case a company will be treated as an EGC through its IPO date, or one year after it ceases to meet the EGC criteria, whichever is earlier. This provision is effective immediately.

The original provisions of the JOBS Act require that all confidential submissions be made public at least 21 days before marketing the company’s stock. The FAST Act changes this to 15 days before marketing, or effectiveness if there isn’t a road show. (Typically marketing begins with the road show.)   This provision is effective immediately.

Under the FAST Act an EGC may omit financial information from a confidential submission or public filing if the company reasonably believes that it will not be required under the rules when the registration statement is declared effective. For example, prior year F/S would not be required if a company believes they will not be required when the registration statement is declared effective. This could be true for certain interim information also. The SEC has already considered extending this provision to all companies.

The Act also requires the SEC to amend its rules to allow a summary page in Form 10-K. Each item should include a cross-reference to where the relevant information is included in the annual report.  This may be a hyperlink. While the SEC is required to do this within 180 days a company could actually do this now.

The Act also requires the SEC to review and amend Regulation S-K to provide additional scaling or eliminate requirements for accelerated filers, EGCs, SRCs and other smaller issuers to reduce reporting burdens while still providing all material information to investors. This review is also designed to remove redundant, outdated or unnecessary disclosures for all issuers. The SEC is required to do this within 180 days

The Act requires a second S-K study to be done in conjunction with the SEC’s:

Investor Advisory Committee and

Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies

The focus of this review is to:

Modernize and simplify requirements

Reduce costs and burdens

Still provide all material information to investors

 

This review should:

Emphasize a “company-by-company” disclosure model

Reduce boilerplate language

Maintain completeness

Provide for comparability across companies

Evaluate methods of information delivery and presentation

Explore methods for reducing repetition and the disclosure of immaterial information

The SEC must complete the study and issue a report to Congress including detailed recommendations with 360 days and then propose rules 360 days after the first study is issued.

The FAST Also includes a new exemption for private companies, Section 4(a)(7) of the Securities Act, which will provide for private re-sales of restricted securities. Purchasers will have to be accredited investors and general solicitation and advertising will not be permitted.

The FAST Act also provides for forward incorporation in Forms S-1 and F-1 by smaller reporting companies. This will obviate the need to file prospectus supplements or post-effective amendments.

Savings & loan holding companies now have the same registration thresholds as banks and bank holding companies.

The SEC has already update some JOBS Act FAQs and has even discussed broadening some of the provisions.

There is a lot here, and if you would like to learn more about the FAST Act we have a recorded program with details at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/FAST_Act_Securities_Law_Provisions/_/N-4nZ1z10zk8?fromsearch=false&ID=276456

As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome!