This week the SEC proposed to expand the “test-the-waters” accommodation—currently available to emerging growth companies (EGCs)—to all issuers, including investment company issuers. The proposed rule and related amendments under the Securities Act of 1933 would enable all issuers (and its authorized representatives, including underwriters) to engage in test-the-waters communications with certain institutional investors regarding a contemplated registered securities offering prior to, or following, the filing of a registration statement related to such offering. These communications would be exempt from restrictions imposed by Section 5 of the Securities Act on written and oral offers prior to or after filing a registration statement and would be limited to qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) and institutional accredited investors (IAIs).

In the SEC’s press release announcing the action, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said, “Extending the test-the-waters reform to a broader range of issuers is designed to enhance their ability to conduct successful public securities offerings and lower their cost of capital, and ultimately to provide investors with more opportunities to invest in public companies.”  Chairman Clayton added, “I have seen first-hand how the modernization reforms of the JOBS Act have helped companies and investors. The proposed rules would allow companies to more effectively consult with investors and better identify information that is important to them in advance of a public offering.”

Under proposed Securities Act Rule 163B:


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In response to the mandate of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued final rule amendments permitting companies reporting under Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act to offer securities pursuant to the registration exemption Regulation A. Previously, offerings pursuant to Regulation A were expressly limited to non-reporting companies. The rule amendments also provide that, so long as the reporting company is current in its Exchange Act periodic reports, the reporting company has no additional periodic reporting obligations under Regulation A. These amendments became effective on January 31, 2019, upon publication in the Federal Register.

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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.”


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On August 17, the SEC adopted amendments intended to simplify and update the disclosure of information to investors and reduce compliance burdens for companies without significantly altering the total mix of information available to investors.  The amendments are effective 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register.

The amendments eliminate certain:

  • Redundant and duplicative requirements, which require substantially similar disclosures as GAAP, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or other SEC disclosure requirements.
  • Overlapping requirements, which are related to, but not the same as GAAP, IFRS or other SEC disclosure requirements.
  • Outdated requirements, which have become obsolete as a result of the passage of time or changes in the regulatory, business or technological environment.
  • Superseded requirements, which are inconsistent with recent legislation, more recently updated SEC disclosure requirements, or more recently updated GAAP.


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On July 24, the SEC proposed amendments to Rule 3-10 of Regulation S-X for guarantors and issuers of guaranteed securities registered or being registered, as well as the financial disclosure requirements in Rule 3-16 of Regulation S-X for affiliates whose securities collateralize securities registered or being registered.  Here is the proposing release.  The proposed changes are intended to provide investors with material information given the specific facts and circumstances, make the disclosures easier to understand, and reduce the costs and burdens to registrants.  The proposal will be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

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On May 29, 2018, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) into law.  While much of the Act centers on regulatory relief for smaller financial institutions and community banks, Section 508 of the Act adopts a major change to Regulation A+.  Prior to the Act, Regulation A+ was not available to an existing public company (i.e., a company reporting under Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934).  Section 508 of the Act directs the SEC to amend Regulation A+ to allow a public company to use Regulation A+ to offer its securities.  However, Section 508 of the Act is not self-effecting, which means that, until the SEC adopts rules implementing Section 508, only non-public companies may use Regulation A+.  In addition to allowing public companies to use Regulation A+, the Act also directs the SEC to amend its rules to say that a public company that conducts a Tier 2 offering will satisfy its Regulation A+’s periodic reporting obligations by complying with its existing reporting obligations under Section 13 or Section 15(d).

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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.

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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.


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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,