I recently presented to the Corporate & Securities Law Committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) on the topic entitled “Behind the SEC Curtain: Practical Tips for Interacting with the SEC Staff.

The presentation offered practical tips from me, a former SEC staffer, on the following topics:

  • How to interact with the SEC staff
  • The screening and review process for registration statements
  • Periodic reports and proxies
  • Recent areas of focus
  • Current developments at the Commission and staff

I appreciated the positive feedback on the presentation and have posted the PowerPoint for our readers’ benefit.

Click to view the presentation.

On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed into legislation the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the “omnibus spending package.” Included in Title VIII therein is legislation titled the Small Business Credit Availability Act (SBCAA) that includes certain regulations under the federal securities laws impacting business development companies (BDCs).  Among other items, the SBCAA allows BDCs to incur significantly more debt and rely on relaxed SEC communication and offering rules that were previously available to operating companies.

Continue Reading Recent Legislation Means Good News for Business Development Companies

Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Britt Latham and Brian Irving authored an article that was published in The D&O Diary that outlined and discussed the most important trends and developments related to SEC investigations and enforcement proceedings impacting the industry this past year and likely to impact the industry in the coming year. The article includes a discussion of lessons learned from the first year of the Trump administration.

The authors also point to disgorgement as another topic with a changing landscape, with the Supreme Court ruling in Kokesh v. SEC that disgorgement claims are subject to a five-year statute of limitations for enforcing fines, penalties or forfeitures.

Continue Reading Britt Latham and Brian Irving Outline SEC Enforcement Trends under Trump Administration

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a Valentine’s Day notice to public companies yesterday that the SEC will be holding an open meeting on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. EST to consider, among other things, “whether to approve the issuance of an interpretive release to provide guidance to assist public companies in preparing disclosures about cybersecurity risks and incidents.”

Continue Reading SEC Calendars Open Meeting to Consider Issuing an Interpretive Release on Cybersecurity Disclosures

With the potential for a significant change in the corporate tax rate (35% to 20%) this month as a result of the tax bill in Congress, we are re-posting a potential sleeper issue that could arise for some companies in their Q4 and FYE results. If a tax bill is enacted with a lower corporate tax rate (e.g., new 20% rate), companies will need to recalculate their deferred tax assets and deferred tax liabilities on their balance sheets based on the new rate as the assets and liabilities need to be adjusted in the period of enactment. Any charges would flow through to the companies’ income statements.

Read more about the potential sleeper issue and how it will likely affect your company here.

We thought you may find of interest prepared remarks by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton at the annual Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation held on November 30, 2017, where he stated, “In the coming months I anticipate that the Commission will consider adopting rules to expand the definition of ‘smaller reporting company’ to permit additional companies to avail themselves of scaled disclosure requirements.” A full transcript of the speech is available at the SEC’s website.

Proposed Rules Would Change Qualifications for Smaller Reporting Companies

As you may recall, in July 2016 the SEC voted to propose amendments that would increase the financial thresholds in the “smaller reporting company” definition. The proposed rules would enable a company with less than $250 million of public float to provide scaled disclosures as a smaller reporting company, as compared to the $75 million threshold under the current definition. The SEC did not, however, propose to increase the $75 million threshold in the “accelerated filer” definition.

As a result, under the proposed rules, a company with a public float between $75 million and $250 million would qualify as a smaller reporting company for scaled disclosure purposes but would be subject to other filing requirements that currently apply to accelerated filers, including the timing of the filing of periodic reports and the requirement that accelerated filers provide the auditor’s attestation of management’s assessment of internal controls over reporting required by Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Recall also that, exclusive of any scaled disclosure permitted due to a company’s classification as a smaller reporting company, a company may also be classified as an “emerging growth company” and take advantage of certain reduced disclosure requirements pursuant to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS Act), some of which overlap with smaller reporting companies and others that offer additional disclosure relief.

Continue Reading SEC Chairman Clayton Expects New Rules on Smaller Reporting Company Definition Soon

Recently, the house panel approved to raise the Reg A+ IPO limit to $75 million designed to bolster capital-raising efforts. The “moving up [to $75 million] could have a positive impact for smaller companies because it may attract some of the more traditional underwriters to the process. By attracting more sophisticated parties to the transaction, that could help facilitate raising capital.”

The full article, “House Panel Approves Bill Lifting Reg A+ IPO Limit To $75M,” was published by Law360 on November 16, 2017, and is available online.

CEO Pay-Ratio Mandate | Jay Knight for Law360I provided insight in a recent Law360 article on the CEO pay ratio disclosure requirements mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act. The disclosure requires that public companies disclose the compensation of its chief executive and its median average employee, as well as the ratio between the two. Companies will soon have to comply by disclosing the pay gap for fiscal 2017 in their annual 10-K reports and in their 2018 proxy statements.

Continue Reading 3 Things to Know about the Coming CEO Pay-Ratio Mandate

Jay Knight | Corporate Securities Attorney | PCAOB Audit Report StandardsIn a recently published Accounting Today article, I provided insight on the impact of the new audit report standard from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on October 23. The new standard — which is the first significant change to the audit report in over 70 years – expands the scope of the audit report by requiring a discussion of “critical audit matters” and a disclosure of auditor tenure.

Continue Reading Key Reasons the New PCAOB Audit Report Standard is Helpful to Investors

In monitoring SEC comment letters, we came across this SEC comment letter made public this month. It serves as a reminder to registrants that, when calculating a company’s public float, there is an informal presumption that a 10% or greater stockholder is an affiliate of the company; however, this presumption is rebuttable by the registrant.

The letter stated that “[t]he Staff has consistently taken the position that the determination of ‘control’ status is dependent in large part on the facts and circumstances involved and, therefore, has declined to state definitively what circumstances will result in a person being deemed to be in ‘control’ of an issuer. While the Company recognizes that, as a rule of thumb, more than 10% ownership has become an informal benchmark at which control should be evaluated, such ownership, standing alone, is not dispositive.”

Continue Reading SEC Comment about “Affiliate” Stockholder in Public Float Calculation