Last month, the Staff of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance announced that, as part of the Division’s ongoing efforts to facilitate capital formation, all issuers are now permitted to submit draft registration statements relating to IPOs and Exchange Act Section 12(b) registration (e.g., spin-offs) to the Staff for nonpublic (i.e., confidential) review.

Previously, nonpublic review was available only to emerging growth companies (EGCs), as authorized by the JOBS Act, and in certain circumstances to foreign private issuers. Nonpublic submission of registration statements makes it possible for companies to avoid alerting the market of offering plans before the company is certain that it will move forward with any offering.

Continue Reading SEC Extends Confidential Review of Certain Registration Statements to Non-EGCs

The most recent edition of The Business Lawyer, published by the ABA’s Business Law Section, includes its Annual Review of Federal Securities Regulation prepared by its Subcommittee on Annual Review from the Committee on Federal Regulation of Securities. The Review outlines significant developments in federal securities law and regulation during 2016. The Review is divided into three sections:

  • Regulatory actions
  • Accounting statements
  • Case law developments

I currently chair the Subcommittee and wish to give special thanks to all of its distinguished authors that contributed content, including a special thanks to William Lay and Talley Wood from Bass, Berry & Sims for helping draft and edit portions of the Review.

The Review is available here.

For most companies, the end of June means the end of the second fiscal quarter, which means right now you are hard at work finalizing the company’s interim financial statements and preparing its Form 10-Q for an August filing deadline. The end of the second quarter also means that it is time to check the company’s filing status for Exchange Act reports for fiscal 2018.

Know Your Filing Status

While the determination of whether a company will qualify as an “accelerated filer” or “large accelerated filer” for 2018 will not take effect until the date your Form 10-K is filed for fiscal 2017 (or, if earlier, your 10-K due date), the determination of your public float is calculated as of the last business day of the most recently completed second fiscal quarter, or June 30 for companies with a calendar fiscal year. Below are reminders for the different types of filers.

Continue Reading The Results Are In – Now it’s Time to Check Your Filing Status

The new SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton, testified on June 27 to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee about the SEC’s budget request. His comments clearly show that rulemaking is in the pipeline at the Staff level to facilitate capital formation in the public markets. In this regard, Chairman Clayton states, “U.S. capital markets remain the envy of the world, but fewer companies are choosing to enter the public capital markets than in the past, and, as a result, investment opportunities for Main Street investors are more limited.” The following is an excerpt of Chairman Clayton’s comments.

Continue Reading Testimony on the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request

In monitoring SEC comment letters, we came across this SEC comment letter made public last week. It serves a reminder to registrants about their loss contingency disclosures, particularly those involving a “reasonably possible” loss per ASC 450.  In the letter the SEC staff comments, “In regards to this [disclosed litigation] matter as well as any additional matters for which you believe it is at least reasonably possible that a material loss has been incurred but are unable to estimate the amount of loss, please supplementally tell us (a) the procedures you undertake on a quarterly basis to attempt to develop a range of reasonably possible loss for disclosure and (b) the specific factors that are causing your inability to estimate and when you expect those factors to be alleviated for each matter.” 

Continue Reading SEC Comment About “Reasonably Possible” Litigation Loss

Recently, I provided guidance and insight on how the SEC is using technology to make structured financial data more widely available and efficient to users. In two articles featured in the Technology and SEC Disclosure newsletter, I discussed EDGAR upgrades and the use of hyperlinks in company filings. As mentioned in the newsletter, “I do think the use of additional hyperlinking should be explored further. There is a great deal of information that could be hyperlinked in a particular filing, whether or not it’s a Securities Act registration statement that’s incorporating Exchange Act filings such as the 10-K and Qs. And I do think there are more hyperlink opportunities for issuers that would not be a significant burden and could provide a lot of benefit to investors.”

If you’re interested, the articles – “Reinventing Edgar” and “The Hyperlinks Rule” – were featured in the June 2017 Technology and SEC Disclosure newsletter, published in conjunction with Mergermarket and Toppan Vintage.

In monitoring SEC comment letters, we came across this SEC comment letter made public today, which we thought of particular interest to our readership given its direct application to almost all public companies. In the letter, the SEC Staff expressly concludes that simply including a URL address in an earnings press release that directs readers to a website where the non-GAAP reconciliation is located does not comply with the requirements in Item 10(e)(1)(i) of Regulation S-K (i.e., “must include….in the filing…a reconciliation”) and the general rules regarding disclosure of non-GAAP financial measures outlined in Regulation G (i.e., “must accompany that non-GAAP financial measure with…a reconciliation”). Although this is the Staff’s current position, we believe this may be an interesting area to watch in light of the SEC’s recent rulemaking in the hyperlinking space (see this post) as well as continued innovation in electronic communication and IR practices.

Continue Reading SEC Staff Says No to Hyperlinking Non-GAAP Reconciliations in the Earnings Press Release

The Wall Street Journal yesterday published an interesting article regarding the SEC Staff’s attention to non-GAAP financial measure disclosure issues in the SEC comment letter process. The article highlights the ongoing focus of the SEC staff on non-GAAP financial disclosure issues following the revised (and more stringent) non-GAAP financial guidance promulgated by the SEC in the spring of 2016, as well as inquiries that were received from a sizeable number of public companies in 2016 from the SEC Division of Enforcement focused on non-GAAP compliance. Continue Reading SEC Staff Continues Focus on non-GAAP Financial Disclosures

Securities and Shareholder Litigation 2017: A Look AheadWhile not necessarily as eventful as 2015, 2016 saw courts interpret and build upon major decisions from prior years, and have set up at least one important issue for consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. 2016 also featured several important legal developments that should continue to impact both private litigation and public enforcement throughout 2017, including:

  • SEC Whistleblower Program. By the time the SEC closed its 2016 fiscal year in September, it had filed a record number of enforcement actions. In addition, the SEC’s whistleblower program awarded more than $57 million to 13 whistleblowers during the year, almost as much as in all previous years combined. The big question will be whether the Trump administration will allow this trend to continue.

Continue Reading Bass, Berry & Sims Securities and Shareholder Litigation Group Publishes 2017: A Look Ahead

Related to the new EGC box, there has been some uncertainty by companies and the securities bar about whether a registrant that is both an accelerated filer and an emerging growth company would check both boxes or only the EGC box.  In a phone call with the SEC Staff today, I have confirmed the boxes are not mutually exclusive.  Therefore, if the registrant is both an accelerated filer (or non-accelerated filer) and an emerging growth company, both boxes should be checked.