Please join the Bass, Berry & Sims Corporate & Securities Practice Group as they launch a series of complimentary webinars exploring various public company-related securities law issues. These quarterly CLE programs will be an extension of our Securities Law Exchange Blog and will feature timely and practical guidance to SEC disclosure counsel on key topics
When a public company is contemplating an acquisition, lawyers should consider early in the acquisition process whether the execution of the acquisition agreement and/or the completion of the acquisition may trigger a filing under Item 1.01 or Item 2.01 of Form 8-K.
Item 1.01 of Form 8-K requires disclosure when a registrant enters into a “material definitive agreement” outside of the ordinary course of business. In the context of an acquisition, this in most cases would potentially be triggered by the execution of the definitive acquisition agreement (rather than a letter of intent or term sheet).
While developments with respect to the Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) section in SEC disclosure documents have garnered less attention in the legal press in recent years than certain other areas in the SEC disclosure arena, preparing and crafting MD&A disclosures remains a major area of focus for SEC disclosure lawyers.
The MD&A is the section of a periodic report or registration statement in which management provides its analysis of the registrant’s financial condition and results of operations, thereby providing critical insight into the views of management regarding the key drivers and trends impacting a public company’s financial performance.
Disclosure lawyers should note these key tips and observations when preparing or reviewing MD&A:
On March 20, 2019, nearly a year and a half after proposing them, the SEC adopted amendments to disclosure requirements for reporting companies, as mandated by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (the “FAST Act”). The amendments are a part of an ongoing effort by the SEC to simplify and modernize disclosure obligations. According to the SEC’s press release, the amendments are expected “to benefit investors by eliminating outdated and unnecessary disclosure and making it easier for them to access and analyze material information.”
Among many other items, the amendments address the following topics:
- Greater Flexibility When Filing Under Item 601 of Regulation S-K
- Omission of Immaterial Schedules and Exhibits—The amendments revise Item 601 of Regulation S-K to expand the ability of registrants to omit immaterial schedules and similar attachments to required exhibits, which previously was only available to schedules and exhibits to acquisitions agreements being filed under Item 601(b)(2).
On December 18, 2018, the SEC issued a request for public comment soliciting input on the nature, content and timing of earnings releases and quarterly reports of companies that are obligated to file reports with the SEC as well as the relationship between the periodic reports that reporting companies must provide and the earnings releases that they choose to distribute. With this request for comment, the SEC is seeking to continue the ongoing dialogue about whether the current reporting regime and practices of reporting companies is overly burdensome or contributing to “short-termism”.
Commenting on the matter, SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton, said “[t]here is ongoing public debate regarding the effects of mandated quarterly reports and the prevalence of optional quarterly guidance.” “Our markets thirst for high-quality, timely information regarding company performance and material corporate events. We recognize the importance of this information to well-functioning and fair capital markets. We also recognize the need for companies and investors to plan for the long term. Our rules should reflect these realities. I look forward to receiving thoughtful comments as we think about ways to encourage long-term investment in our country.”
On June 28, the SEC adopted regulations that could reduce the reporting burden on middle market public companies. In summary, the SEC adopted amendments to the smaller reporting company (SRC) definition to increase the thresholds for eligibility. Under the amendments, companies with a public float of less than $250 million will qualify as SRCs (up from $75 million). The SEC estimates that about 1,000 additional companies will now be eligible for scaled disclosure as a result of the rule amendments. We expect these amendments may also help companies that have undertaken their IPO in the last five years as they roll off emerging growth company eligibility because of the passage of time.
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.”
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…
I 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.