SECURITIES REGULATION OUTLINE
PART ONE: RAISING CAPITAL
I. SECURITIES REGULATION OVERVIEW
A. Goals of Securities Regulation: The goals of securities market focus on the issuance of securities. These laws are all about disclosure. Investors need information. They are not able to kick the tires or to squeeze the fruit to test the product. So they need to make an informed decision when buying the product – a future stream of earnings. Nearly 84 million Americans (43.6%) of the US own some sort of stock. Institutional (pension funds, mutual funds, commercial banks, insurance companies) own the rest.
1) Assuring Informed Investor Decision-Making & Consumer Protection: Investors need to trust that the company they are investing in is doing the right thing. Securities laws instill trust because the disclosure of information will mean that the investor can be confident in the company. The investor knows that that there are protective measures and legal recourse. However: this can also lead to complacency. Ex. Enron: Thus investors not confident when laws not enforced. Enron’s forms hadn’t been looked at in 3 years.
2) Allocative Efficiency: We want to ensure that stocks and other securities are priced accurately according to their true objective value. So long as the information that the regulations require is processed appropriately on the market, capital will flow to productive uses. The higher the value, the higher the price of the security and vice versa. We don’t want money being spent in places it shouldn’t be. However, corporations may restrict the outflow of information to prevent later liability actions.
3) Corporate Governance and Agency Costs: Sometimes agent/corporate interests will diverge from shareholder interest. Securities regulation mitigates these concerns, telling corporate managers don’t cook your books or stock will go down. Brandeis: “Sunlight is the best of disinfectants.”
4) Economic Growth, Innovation, Access to Capital: We want companies to be able to expand and grow. Securities regulation ensure that investors will feel confident about investing and then companies can get capital, expand, grow. A securities-centered economy like the US encourages entrepreneurial ventures. A banking-centered economy like Europe’s encourages firms dominance and corporate consolidation.
5) The Market for Lemons: Investors need to know which companies are lemons, which aren’t. Rigorous scheme of securities regulation allows the non-lemons to signal to market that they’re not lemons and thus investors won’t be afraid of investing.
B. Overview of the Financial Markets: The securities markets are a subset of the many financial markets. There are non-securities markets (bank loans, treasury bills, CDs and commercial paper) and equity markets. The decision of which market for a company to enter is based upon the cost of capital in the particular market, the time necessary to effect a transaction, and regulatory supervision. When a financial product is considered a security, the breadth of the securities laws applies.
C. The Equity Markets:
1) The Trading Markets:
a) The Primary Market: The primary market is issuer transactions sold to investors.
b) The Secondary Market: The secondary market are trading transactions between investors, done on NYSE, NASDAQ, Electronic Communications Markets.
D. Regulatory Framework:
1) The SEC: The Securities & Exchange Commission is an independent administrative body charged with the administration of the securities laws. Subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, thus there are open meetings, advance notice of regulatory changes, opportunities for interested parties to comment. Very New Dealesque. Maintains EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval).
a) The Composition: One Chairman and four commissioners. Each commissioner has a five-year term, staggered, no more than three can be from the same party.
b) The Divisions: The SEC is divided into 4 divisions:
1) Corporate Finance: Oversees disclosure obligations; interprets the 33 Act.
2) Market Regulation: Oversees secondary markets, stock exchanges.
3) Investment Management: Oversees mutual fund, investment advisors.
4) Enforcement: Investigates and enforces SEC regulations when there’s a public violation. No independent prosecutorial power, must work with DOJ or with U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
5) (and) General Counsel: legal advice.
c) The Statutes: Grew out of public outcry in Depression.
i) The Securities Act of 1933: The 33 Act: The 33 Act handles the initial offer and sale of securities, the registration process, mandates disclosure.
ii) The Securities Exchange Act of 1934: The 34 Act: Much, much broader than the 33 Act, the 34 Act requires continuous disclosure with annual and quarterly reports, handles broker-dealers, handles tender offers, insider trading.
iii) The Public Utility Holding Act of 1935: (Not too effective).
iv) The Trust Indenture Act of 1939: Public offerings in excess of $1M..
v) The Investment Company Act of 1940: Mutual funds…
vi) The Investment Advisers Act of 1940:
vii) The Public Company Accounting…(Sarbanes-Oxley):
2) The States: States may enforce security law through “Blue Sky Laws.”
3) The Exchanges: The NASD self-regulates.
II. DEFINING A SECURITY
Securities regulation goes no further than the regulation of securities, thus triggering registration, mandatory disclosure and heightened antifraud rules. Some things are definitely securities, like stocks, bonds. Others are not, such as precious metals and real estate. And some things exist in a gray area, like franchise agreements (often not because investor has much control).
33 Act § 2(a)(1): Very long list, but essentially, broad and expansive. Securities pass two-part test: 1) “note”; “stock”; “bond”; or “debendture” essentially a transferable share. 2) Items with “any evidence of indebtedness,” “certificate of interest or participation in any profit-sharing agreement,” “any investment contract,” and any “instrument commonly known as a ‘security.’” Both definitions apply “unless context otherwise requires.”
34 Act § 3(a)(10): (Basically repeats above).
A. Investment Contracts: Investment Ks are securities. This is a “catch-all” provision. Goal of the laws is to protect the unsophisticated investors – even if they can protect themselves
1) The Howey Test:
SEC v. W.J. Howey Co. [SCt 1946]: Howey sold parcels of citrus groves to investors. Investors took no part in cultivation but attached 10 year service Ks. Howey, however, stuck around and would then harvest oranges, pay investors according to yields of the oranges. SEC brought suit because the Ks served as “investment Ks” and Howey needed to register them.
Held: These are securities.
1) Investment of $: Cash or noncash, investor is not buying a consumable commodity or a service.
2) Common Enterprise: Everyone’s resources are pooled together.
3) Expected Profits/Net Proceeds: The investors weren’t buying oranges.
4) Profits Derived Solely From the Efforts of Others: Profits came on the back of Howey.
2) The Modified Howey Test:
SEC v. Koscot Interplanetary [5th Cir. 1974]: Pyramid scheme in which “investors” would give money to Mary Kay-like cosmetic scheme.
Held: These “sales” are securities.
1) Investment of $: There must be the investment of cash, investor is not buying a consumable commodity or service (sales of make-up are not securities).
2) Common Enterprise.
a) Horizontal Commonality: Investors are “pooled” together. Multiple investors have interrelated interest in a common scheme. There is a pro-rata distribution of profits.
b) Vertical Commonality: A single investor has an interest in the management of his/her investment.
Broad Vertical Commonality: There is a relationship between the fortunes of investor and the fortunes of the promoter.
Strict Vertical Commonality: There is a direct relationship between the promoter’s financial success and the investor’s, perhaps both even split the proceeds.
3) Expected Profits Derived Predominantly From the Efforts of Others: The profits no longer need to derive “solely” as was said in Howey. Rather, profits can derive “predominantly” from the efforts of others.
B. The “Economic Realities” Test: Restricting the Definition of Security:
United Housing Foundation, Inv. v. Forman [SCt 1975]: UHF, a cooperative housing corporation, required its residents to buy “shares” of the co-op. Money from shares was used to defray initial costs. Costs went up, however, rent went up. Tenants/Shareholders sued saying they were deceived in the purchase of these securities.
Powell Held: UHF wins, shareholders lose. Court looks at bottom line “economic realities.” Furthermore, (TP) this: “doesn’t look & smell like stock” – no typical indicia: shareholder rights not proportionate to number of shares, shares could not appreciate. And applying the Howey Test, Court’s real focus finds “stock was not purchased in expectation of profits” but for shelter.
C. Limited Partnerships and LLCs:
Limited partnership: Only the general partner is on the hook. LP interests are often security.
General partnership: All of the partners are “in it together.” Basically, GP interests not security.
LLC: Law is divided, sometimes considered securities because they’re like investment Ks.
Steinhardt Group Inc. v. Citicorp [3rd Cir. 1997]: “Securitization transaction” conceived by Citicorp whereby Citicorp basically sold bad loans, buyers would then try to get the third party debtors to pay up. Good for seller because bad loans got ridden of, good for buyer because they can seek the $. Applying Howey:
1) Investment of $: Steinhardt did invest $42M into LP.
2) Common Enterprise: Maybe vertical commonality, but court doesn’t decide.
3) Expectation of Profits Derived Predominantly From the Efforts of Others: Court decides that limited partner had “pervasive control” of the management of the limited partnership, Steinhardt could remove the general partner and had much control of the business. This is the rare exception case where the LP is not a security. And economic realities, these are sophisticated investors.
D. Stocks: Laws require that “stock” be considered a security, it is not a security if “the context requires otherwise.”
1) The Sale of Business Doctrine: Sale of business is not stock, unless it’s the sale of stock.
Landreth Timber Company v. Landreth [SCt. 1985]: Father and sons (the Landreths) sold all of their “stock” in their company’s closely held corporation, a sawmill. Purchasers Dennis and Bolten then called themselves Landreth Timber Company, sued the Landreths undere securities laws when sawmill business went bad, seeking recission and damages. Landreths claimed Timber Co. couldn’t sue because they hadn’t sold stock, but had sold business.
Powell Held: This is definitely stock, even though business was sold. This is what is thought of when “stock” is though of – read “stock” literally. And this has all of the indicia of stock: dividend rights, liquidity, voting powers, appreciation. Sale should have been structured as an asset sale, instead. No need to look to Howey or to Economic Realities.
E. Notes: Laws require that “notes” be considered securities, not a security though if “context requires otherwise.” A note is basically issuer saying, “I promise to pay…” Laws exception, 34 Act § 3(a)(10), though as notes that mature w/in 9 mos are not securities. Many contexts require otherwise (bank loans, school loans, etc.)
1) The Family Resemblance Test: Family Resemblance Test inquires if notes bear a “family resemblance” to other instruments which are securities.
Reeves v. Ernst & Young [SCt. 1990]: Agricultural Co-Op needed money, sold promissory notes to both members (it had 23,000 members) and to others. Co-Op filed for bankruptcy, 1,600 people holding notes sued Co-Op’s auditors.
Marshall Held: Any note is a security if it doesn’t mature w/in 9 months. This is a rebuttable presumption if the “context requires otherwise.”
1) Desire to Profit: Inquire if there was a desire to profit eventually, or to effect a sale. In this case, the motivation was to eventually profit.
2) Plan of Distribution: In this case there was “common trading for speculation or investment” 1600 investors is certainly a broad category.
3) Parties Expectations: The expectation was to invest. Look at Economic Realities. Was it commercial or investment- related?
4) Existence of Other Regulatory Schemes: If there are other means of investor protection, such a the collateralization of the loan, state laws, then securities law may not need to apply.
III. MANDATORY DISCLOSURE
A. Disclosure Policy: The securities laws are all premised on disclosure. With information available, the argument goes, investors will be able to protect themselves.
1) Arguments Against Mandatory Disclosure: There are many alternatives debated:
a) Alternative: Merit Review: The government or some other body gives advice on a security. This has been fundamentally rejected because decisions or advice could be motivated by political influence instead of good faith beliefs, investors could choose to follow private investors anyway, the market takes care of itself, not ten people sitting around a conference table.
b) Incentives Already Exist: Companies will provide info anyway so that investors will confidently invest.
c) Information Overload: Mandatory Disclosure will incur a glut of excessive info.
2) Arguments for Mandatory Disclosure: Investor Confidence, Confidence, Confidence!
a) Avoid Bad Faith: Companies may hold onto information for a long time so they don’t have to disclose it, they’ll reveal when they need to. Even though investors will want info to invest, companies may push the envelope.
b) Level the Playing Field: All investors, not just a select few, will be able to participate, fairness will follow.
B. The Efficient Capital Markets Hypothesis (ECMH): The cornerstone of Disclosure Policy, the ECMH demonstrates a relationship between information and price. Thus the market accurately reflects price. There are three forms of market efficiency:
1) Weak Form Efficient: Market is efficient if past information is already reflected in the price. This info is not indicative of future results.
2) Semi-Strong Form Efficient: Market is efficient if new or just released or any public information is quickly “digested” and then immediately reflected in the price. This is more along the lines of reality, however, and bear in mind that information can be processed incorrectly.
3) Strong-From Efficient: Market is efficient if all public and private information is immediately reflected in the price. This is not reality and explains private information and insider trading.
C. The Impossibility of Perfect Efficiency: Efficiency markets can’t be taken too seriously otherwise on one would ever make money. Other forces, for example a sunny day in NYC, may drive prices too.
1) The “Efficiency Paradox”: Analysts need to be objective, but they work in the same shop as the underwrites who want to make money!
IV. § 5 OF THE 33 ACT – REGISTRATION
There are many ways to get capital other than going public, like loans, retained earnings, private placement. The big debate for companies: debt or equity. The problems associated with going public are the expenses and many Ks, eventual demands of outside shareholders, disclosure compliance costs, and effects of the disclosure of information to competitors. Goal of laws is investor protection, however it’s important not to impede capital raising. Overall idea here is that issue is arranging with firms for the distribution with an underwriter “underwriting” the issuance. Issuer sells low to underwriter, underwriter sells a little lower (with a profit) to firm, firm then sells.
A. Statutory Framework: The basic rules of the 33 Act are 1) to disclose and thus provide investors with material financial and other information concerning the issuance of securities; 2) prohibit the fraudulent sales of securities. § 5 is based on interstate commerce, the mails, only questionable on law school exams.
§ 5: Applies to the Primary Markets (issuers and underwriters) and not to the secondary markets. This is the law of full disclosure and regulation. Applies to use of the mails and is almost always met. You must register a public offering and that means disclosure! If you do this wrongly, you’ll have to deal with § 11 and § 12.
§ 5(a): Prohibits the Sales of Securities without Effective Registration.
§ 5(b): Issuance of Prospectus must conform to § 10.
§ 5(c): Requires filing of registration statement. Reg. S-K dictates the contents of the registration statement and the requirements of the prospectus. The prospectus is the principal selling document for the offering. In turn it is required:
Reg. S-K: Requires offering price, issuer, registrants, MD & A (Rule 303), related parties, indemnification of officers and directors, co. capital structure, legal proceedings, etc.
B. The Pre-Filing Period (The Quiet Time): The company first chooses the filing date. During the pre-filing period, however, offers and sales are prohibited, otherwise the SEC may get mad, delay the effective date and then the price may have gone from $30 to $20, company hurt badly. There can be no “Gun Jumping” whereby the company conditions the market, thus lawyer must make sure CEO doesn’t go on CNBC and tell about the offer. Lawyer must also review press releases and other documents. Company cannot release predictions, forecasts. Company can, however, release factual information (amount of security to be offered, manner of offering). No Bright-Line Rule to any of this, however. Registration statement and prospectus will require S-1, S-2, S-3, info. about the company, offering and use of proceeds, a description of the registering security, the company’s undertakings. In reality, though, price will be decided by the market.
1) No Offers: During the “Quiet Time,” companies cannot make any effort to offer a security. The company must remain quiet.
§ 2(a)(3): (Carve Out): Defines very broadly an offer to “sell” or “sale.” However, preliminary conversations with underwriters and other necessary parties are allowed. Otherwise a complete restriction would stop the offering process. And the underwriter needs to be a part of this process.
Rule 135: Compliance with 135 is not an offer (some information generally about the offer is allowed to be released).
2) No Sales Can be Consummated: During the “Quiet Time,” as with offers, companies cannot make any sale of the security.
C. The Waiting Period: The registration statement has been filed with the SEC but it is not yet effective.
1) Strictly Regulated Offers: Once the company has filed their registration statement, they can begin efforts to sell the security.
§ 8(a): Registration Statement can become effective 20 days after it is filed.
§ 5(b)(1): Restricts nature of offers. Delivery of any prospectus must comply with § 10.
§ 5(b)(2): Delivery of sec.s can’t happen until prospectus complies w/§ 10(a) [The Statutory Prospectus – The Real One].
Rule 134: Registrant can solicit intent from prospective purchasers.
There are thus ways to reach investors during the waiting period. In reality, these are what induce the investment decision because the official prospectus will come after the purchase:
a) Oral Offers: There can be oral offers, but not on TV, radio or phone. Only face to face. Also, preliminary prospectus is required for these meetings.
b) The Preliminary (“Red Herring”) Prospectus: There is certain information that was not in the initially filed registration statement. This prospectus includes substantially all of the information that will be in the final prospectus. It has red cover with “Subject to Completion” in red ink and thus “Red Herring.” Though this prospectus can be used in offers to sell, it does not satisfy § 10(a) and thus can’t be used in the delivery of securities. So you’ve got to use the real prospectus to seal the deal.
Rule 430: This can be used because it complies with § 10.
Rule 430A: Price Information can be excluded, it’s not yet available. You can also go effective without this info.
c) The Summary Prospectus: Like the Preliminary, but this also cannot be used to seal the deal.
Rule 431: Authorizes.
d) The Tombstone Ad.: The Tombstone Ad. is a bare bones ad that announces the sale of a security, the offeror, and the underwriters. (It’s so stark…Tombstone.) Can’t be done during the Pre-Filing Period, though.
§ 2(a)(10): This is one of the “carve outs.”
e) The Identifying Statement: Like a Tombstone Ad, an Identifying Statement is an expanded Tombstone ad. And tells investors where they can get the preliminary prosepectus. Can’t be done in the Pre-Filing Period.
§ 2(a)(10)(b): Allows for an expanded Tombstone ad.
Rule 134: 14 informational requirements must be met.
f) Testing the Market: The Roadshow, etc.
2) No Sales Can be Consummated: Sales cannot be consummated until the registration statement is effective.
D. The Post-Effective Period: The SEC has then declared the registration statement effective.
1) Offers: Once effective, the prospectus can be used in an offer to sell. The Prospectus must comply with § 10.
§ 5(b)(1): Prospectus in offer must comply with § 10. Though written offers are still prohibited, they are indeed allowed in “free writing” when accompanied by a § 10(a) prospectus.
§ 5(b)(2): Delivery of securities must have a § 10(a) prospectus. SEC wants investors to have the prospectus.
Big Q: When is delivery?: 3 Business Days following the trade date.
Rule 434: Allows info in final prospectus to be delivered in a piecemeal fashion. Web-posting is not enough. And send with term sheet. SEC posts its docs online in EDGAR, though.
E. Integrated Disclosure & The Registration Process: The 33 Act and the 34 Act had different disclosure requirements for nearly 50 years. In 1982, however, the SEC created a unified approach to disclosure. Today virtually all filings under either the 33 Act or the 34 Act are uniform. Goal was ease and lower compliance costs for issuance. Whole system is premised on ECMH.
34 Act: Requires registration if:
§ 12(b): Shares of either debt or equity are listed on an exchange. This is a gatekeeper requirement for securities on the market.
§ 12(g)(1) and Rule 12g-4: Company has assets over $10M and over 500 security/equity holders, whether or not company had already filed under 33 Act. Company can de-register if it falls under a threshold. Also, many companies are exempt, such as some mutual funds.
§ 15(d): Company has registered under the 33 Act.
§ 13: Required forms to file to file for reporting companies in periodic disclosure for “Reporting Companies” in Reg. S-K: 10-K, is an annual financial report. 10-Q is a quarterly financial report. 8-K is as special report for bankruptcy, merger, etc. The Prospectuses for these companies:
S-3: Companies widely followed by analysts. This is the shortest form. These are “seasoned companies.” This form allows offering via reference to the information already disclosed in the Qs and Ks. These companies prospectus will be stream-lined. (S-4 concerns merger and acquisition issuance, S-8 concerns EE stock purchases).
S-2: Companies subject to 34 Act for at least three years. These are “seasoned companies” or “reporting companies.” Their prospectus is streamlined, too.
S-1: Companies subject to 34 Act for less than three years. These are generally not Reporting Companies but are companies making an IPO.
G. Qualitative Disclosure: Growing concerns today about “qualitative” issues that should be disclosed, such as executive compensation, stock ownership, conflicts of interest, litigation worries.
Rule 408: “Additional Information…”
H. New Approaches to Disclosure: Soft Information: Soft information includes information such as projections, estimates or opinions. This information can be the most important and perilous to investors. Historically, the SEC was concerned with historic information and thought that forward-looking statements were misleading. Such forward-looking statements are now allowed, protected by safe-harbor provisions unless the statements were made “without reasonable belief” or were not “in good faith.”
1) Managers Discussion & Analysis (MD&A): For MD&A, there is information that companies are required to disclose and information that companies are encouraged to disclose. This is one of the most significant innovations in mandatory disclosure. However, the issuer does need safe-harbor protection.
Item 303: Liquidity and Capital Reserves.
a) Safe Harbor if Reasonable Basis/Good Faith: A company will not be subject to fraud or liability if the forward-looking statements were made based on a reasonable basis or in good faith.
Rule 3b-6: As long as there’s a reasonable belief…
§ 27A (of the 33 Act): Safe-Harbor for forward-looking statements.
I. Shelf Registration: Shelf Registration occurs when a company registers more shares than it plans to initially offer – putting some on the “shelf” until market improves. Also means company won’t have to incur time and expense of registering all over again.
Rule 415(a)(1)(x): Applies to big, seasoned companies who use S-3.
Rule 415(a)(2): The amount that can be shelved is limited to what can reasonably be sold two years from the effective date.
Rule 415(a)(3): Prospectus and information must be updated, it can’t go “stale”
Rule 176: Fraud consideration can apply.
V. § 4(2) OF THE 33 ACT – THE PRIVATE OFFERING/PLACEMENT EXEMPTION
Some issues are exempt from the rigorous registration process. These issues, however, are still liable to the fraud provisions and to Rule 10b-5.
A. The Private Placement Requirements (Generally): § 4(2) exempts transactions “by an issuer, not involving any public offering” from the requirements of the 33 Act. The purpose of this exemption is to encourage capital formation and not force the securities laws upon those who have adequate knowledge and can fend for themselves. Benefit of the exemption is saved time and resources. And § 4(6) requires that private offerings to accredited investors pass the exemption if the amount offered is below $5M.
1) Those Who Can “Fend for Themselves”: Typically, these investors are venture capital firms, family and friends, and other who can bargain.
a) Investor Sophistication: Focus on the investor’s ability to evaluate the investment: proxies for sophistication include income, education, profession, history of investing, competence, possession of comparable securities, prior relationship with issuer.
SEC v. Ralston Purina Co. [SCt. 1953]: Uncertainty about the scope of § 4(2) was settled. Ralston Purina sold stock to it’s “key employees” without registration. Hundreds of very unsophisticated “key employees” bought this stock, SEC sued to have future stock sales registered.
Clark Held: The employees were unsophisticated and unable to protect themselves, the law should protect them. They couldn’t fend for themselves.
b) Access to Information: Proxies for access to info include management team, MD&A, risk factors, compensation, auditors, forecasts.
c) Number of Offerees:
Rule 701: Allows for certain EE benefit plans.
2) Resale Restrictions: Investors resales are restricted otherwise they’re underwriters.
3) No General Solicitations: Just as offerees must be qualified, there can be no general solicitation.
VI. REG D OF THE 33 ACT – THE LIMITED OFFERING EXEMPTION
§ 4(2) is a general statutory exemption. Reg D is a combination of previous exemption rules. The SEC relied on § 4(2) and § 3(b) to promulgate these rules. They provide clarity and answers to issuers, dealers and investors unsatisfied by the Ralston Purina Test.
A. Reg D Requirements (Generally):
1) Strict Compliance: Strict Compliance is generally required (unless noncompliance did not undermine protection, or there was good faith).
2) Value: All Reg Ds (504, 505, etc) are integrated together and considered as one offering, and their respective values are aggregated (w/in past 12 mos).
Rule 506 Five Step Test for Integration (sales 6 mos after completion are in safe harbor):
1) Are sales part of the same single plan of financing?
2) Are offerings the same class of security?
3) Have sales been made around the same time?
4) What type of consideration is received?
5) Are sales made for the same general purpose?
3) “Accredited Investor”: Defined in Rule 501 (Institutional, big organizations with more than $5M, key insiders – but title doesn’t mean everything, millionaires, wealthy people with over $200K in annual income or $300K with spouse, venture capital, sophisticated trusts, accredited-owned entities, entity where all partners are accredited). This is learned by the issuer in the investor questionnaire.
4) General Solicitations: Reg D does not prohibit offers to nonaccredited investors, however it does prohibit “general solicitations or general advertising.” A “preexisting relationship” would generally not be considered a “general solicitation.” Often this means issuers will rely on broker-dealers for list of potential investors. Furthermore, a coming sale can only be announced in an informative manner.
Rule 502(c): Examples of prohibited solicitations include newspapers, magazines, television or radio ads, open seminars or investment meetings.
5) Disclosure Obligations: Affirmative disclosure obligations are not required for Rule 505 or Rule 506 accredited investors, but affirmative disclosure is required to non-accredited investors in Rule 505 or Rule 506. Furthermore, it generally makes sense to disclose to accrediteds, too. Disclose, disclose. If company is a reporting company, it can give its most recent filings. For non-reporting companies: $2M offering disclose financials; B/w $2M and $7.5M reg. Form and financials; $7.5M+ financials, etc.
Rule 502(b)(1): Sets forth disclosure requirements to non-accrediteds.
Rule 502(b)(v): Issuer shall also be available to answer questions, etc.
6) Resale Restrictions: Resales are restricted so it won’t turn into a public offering: a) investors must sign letter of intent; b) the securities restricted nature must be disclosed; c) securities must be legended as restricted.
Rule 502(d): Sets forth restrictions, securities can’t be resold without registration.
B. The Reg D Exemptions:
1) Rule 504: Small “Microcap” Offerings: Non-reporting companies can sell up to a) $1M in securities in b) any 12-month period; c) no limitation on the number of purchasers; d) no affirmative disclosure obligation; e) Rule 144 and restricted resale rules apply (two-year restriction).
2) Rule 505: Medium-Sized Offerings Subject to SEC Conditions: Companies that are neither investment companies nor “Bad Guys” can sell up to a) $5M in b) any 12-month period; c) no limit on # of accredited investors and only 35 non-accredited investors (issuer must “reasonably believe” there are no more than 35 non-accredited investors); d) Non-accredited investors must receive specified written disclosure and be able to ask questions of the issuer (affirmative disclosure obligation); e) Restricted resale.
3) Rule 506: Private Offerings Subject to Safe-Harbor Provisions: Like Rule 505, but a) No limit on price and b) no limit on time period; c) no limit on # of accredited investors but only 35 non-accredited investors and they must be sophisticated (able to evaluate merits of the investment)!; and d) affirmative disclosure to non-accredited including questions, etc; e) restricted resale. This would also pretty much mean a good § 4(2) exemption. But an offering could still be exempt under § 4(2) even if it fails Rule 506.
VII. RULE 144 OF THE 33 ACT ET AL – SECONDARY & POSTOFFERING DISTRIBUTIONS:
§ 4(1): The provisions of § 5 do not apply to “transactions by any person other than an issuer, underwriter, or dealer.” The focus is here is that some sales by non-issuers are within the reach of § 5.
A. The “Underwriter Concept”: Sometimes sales of restricted securities (securities offered in § 4(2) or Reg D) effectively turn the seller into an underwriter. Those who buy on the NYSE, for example, would not have to worry about being an underwriter. That’s a “pure transaction” on a secondary market.
§ 2(a)(11): The term “underwriter” is defined:
1) Anyone who has purchased from an issuer [or control person] with “a view to…the distribution…”
2) Anyone who offers or sells for an issuer [or control person] in connection w/the distribution…”
3) Anyone participating in the direct or indirect underwriting…
4) Anyone who is an underwriter…
1) Statutory/Plain Vanilla Underwriters: These are clear underwriters.
2) Constructive Underwriters/Agent for the Issuer:
SEC v. Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Inc. [2nd Cir. 1941]: Non-profit association of Chinese Americans sought to encourage investors to buy bonds in the Republic of China. Solicitations were made in meetings, newspaper ads, and personal appeals. The Association then gave the subscriptions, without taking a fee, to the Chinese government. SEC comes after the Association because they considered Association to be underwriters, underwriters were soliciting. Bonds weren’t registered.
Held: The Association served as an underwriter. Even though they weren’t “issuer, underwriter or dealer,” policy of § 2 would be thwarted if they weren’t. (This could also be used to go after newspapers, etc. who advertise).
3) Purchaser with a “View to…the Distribution”: Those who purchase with a “view to…the distribution are clearly considered underwriters. A re-sale will only constitute a distribution when the rationale behind exemptions is violated. This could be an investment firm or someone who purchases in a private placement of Reg D exemption (thus those companies will severely restrict their issues so they don’t unwittingly go public).
a) A “View”: To determine a “view,” we need to look at intent. The longer the holding period, the more likely the intent was to make the purchase an investment. The holding period is probative of intent – though not dispositive. The security must “come to rest.” General rule: less than 6 mos has not come to rest; after 2 years is the breaking point; 2 to 3 years is presumptively an investment. Even “change in circumstance” won’t help the underwriter avoid problems.
b) “to the Distribution”: In addition to a “view,” it is required that there be a distribution. The question here is whether those who bought the security from the person with the view could “fend for themselves,” as in Ralston Purina.
4) Control Persons: A control person could be an underwriter. A control person is: a) someone who “controls” the issuer or the business; b) anyone in a control relationship of the person doing the underwriter, like an intermediary. This could be a broker who assists an agent of the issuer/constructive underwriter. Thus more and more people are brought into the definition. Rule 405 governs, policy is that those with control shouldn’t be able to take advantage of market because they have superior information. Public needs protection.
To determine control person liability, there is a different analysis:
a) When Securities Have Not Yet Come to Rest:
Control Persons: Will not determine who is an underwriter.
b) When Securities Have Come to Rest:
Control Persons: Intent doesn’t matter; participation in distribution does matter.
Non-Control Persons: They may take advantage and re-sell securities.
B. Resale Restrictions: Rule 144 concerns “persons deemed not to be engaged in a distribution and therefore not underwriters.” This rule is a saving-grace for companies that don’t want to go public. Rule 144 applies to “control securities” (held by a control person) and “restricted securities” (securities in a nonpublic offering, from the issuer or a control person in a private placement, Reg D). Public needs protection when these are sold.
1) Requirements for Resale of Restricted and Control Securities: Rule 144 sets forth the rules that need be met so there is no distribution, and thus wrong underwriting. This is a non-exclusive safe-harbor. This is how you have a secondary distribution:
a) Availability of Current Public Information: There must be adequate information about the issuer available. This req. is met if the issuer: a) already has securities registered under the 33 Act or 34 Act; b) the issuer has reported for at least 90 days prior to the sale; c) has filed 34 Act reports preceding the sale.
b) Holding Periods for Restricted Securities: A one year holding period need be met.
c) Limitations on the Amount that Can be Sold: Sales of persons acting in concert are aggregated.
d) Manner of Sale: Through a brokerage transaction or through a “market maker.”
e) Required Notices of Sale:
C. Resale Restrictions to QIBS:
1) Requirements for Resale to Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBS): Rule 144A is an extremely important tool to raise capital. Also a non-exclusive safe-harbor provision. Securities must not be of same class as those listed on an exchange, thus these become “144A Securities.” QUIB must have $100M or more in its portfolio (much more than just “accredited”). No holding period and no volume limitations. QUIB can resell.