SEC continues its disclosure simplification initiative

On March 20, 2019, the SEC amended its disclosure requirements to ease reporting burdens for most public companies. While no individual change is particularly noteworthy, the aggregate impact of the changes should generally simplify the reporting process. A few changes will require modest additional disclosures. The most significant changes are:

  • Confidential treatment requests – Very helpfully, the SEC is dispensing with the need to obtain the staff’s prior approval of a confidential treatment request before redacting information from certain exhibits when the information is not material and its disclosure would likely cause competitive harm.…
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Possible expansion of “Testing the Waters” for Securities Offerings

In apparent recognition of the popularity of “testing the waters” by Emerging Growth Companies (EGCs) before proceeding with an IPO, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently voted to propose an expansion of this accommodation to all companies.[1]  Currently, EGCs and any person authorized to act on behalf of an EGC may engage in oral or written communications with potential investors that are qualified institutional buyers or institutional accredited investors to determine whether these investors might have an interest in a contemplated securities offering without violating the SEC’s prohibition on gun-jumping.… More

Protect your Rule 10b5-1 plans from attack: best practices

Some regulators and investors are expressing concerns about abuse of Rule 10b5-1 plans.  Last July, Representative Maxine Waters introduced the “Promoting Transparency Standards for Corporate Insiders Act,” which would require the SEC to study whether Rule 10b5-1 should be amended to restricted multiple plans, require a waiting period before making trades under a plan, and limit how often plans can be modified or canceled.  In December,… More

And the beat goes on . . . Nasdaq comments on the shutdown

Proving that where there’s a will, there’s a way, the U.S. capital markets continue to push forward as the political stalemate at the heart of the federal government shutdown continues.  A temporary solution to the shutdown appears to be at hand but in the spirit of “then what?” we want to keep you up to date.  Acknowledging the obstacles created by its inability to review registration statements and declare them effective during the course of the shutdown,… More

Cybersecurity 2019 — The Year in Preview: Cryptocurrency and SEC Enforcement

In our 2018 SEC year in preview post, we called attention to an expected increase in SEC cybersecurity enforcement action.  The SEC has certainly lived up to the billing throughout 2018, which was the first full year in existence for the SEC’s new Cyber Unit.  In particular, the Cyber Unit and the SEC’s Enforcement Division focused on three types of enforcement actions:  (1) stopping unregistered and/or fraudulent trading of digital assets,… More

Public offerings may continue, despite SEC shutdown.

The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance has posted helpful FAQs about the impact of the government shutdown on registration statements for public offerings.  During the shutdown, the SEC will not declare registration statements effective, but companies still have several options that may enable them to pursue their offerings.

Well-known seasoned issuers can continue to file automatically effective registration statements, and companies with already effective shelf registration statements should be able to complete a takedown unless the terms of the offering would require the issuer to file a post-effective amendment.… More

2019 10-K and Proxy Season: A couple of reminders

During this ever-lengthening government shutdown, it’s easy to forget that 2018 was a big year for changes to the SEC’s disclosure regime, which companies will need to keep in mind as they prepare their 2019 10-Ks and proxy statements.  In particular, in August, the SEC adopted its Disclosure Updates and Simplification rules, which eliminated some duplicative, outdated and  overlapping disclosure requirements (see our post here), and in June it adopted amendments to the smaller reporting company definition,… More

Yes, they really mean it: the SEC brings another enforcement action relating to the presentation of non-GAAP financial measures

This past Boxing Day, the SEC delivered another reminder that it remains intensely focused on public companies’ disclosure of non-GAAP financial measures.  In an agreed cease-and-desist order released on December 26, 2018, ADT Inc. (ADT) agreed to pay a $100,000 fine to settle an accusation that it failed to comply with Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K.  Item 10(e) requires, among other things, that any disclosure of a non-GAAP financial measure in an SEC filing must be accompanied by disclosure of the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure with equal or greater prominence. … More

Better late than never? New Disclosure Requirements for Hedging Policies

The Securities and Exchange Commission has finally adopted new rules that will require public companies to include in proxy statements for their annual meetings a description of their hedging policies and practices applicable to employees and directors.  These rules were called for by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010  but weren’t proposed until February 2015. The new rules will apply to proxy and information statements with respect to the election of directors during fiscal years beginning on or after July 1,… More

But no one goes to jail for insider trading, right? Wrong

Schultz “Jason” Chan, former director of biostatistics at Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: AKBA), was sentenced to three years in prison following his conviction for insider trading. Chan was convicted of providing material non-public information about Akebia to former Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MACK) employee Songjiang Wang. Wang was also convicted of insider trading based on providing material non-public information about Merrimack to Chan; Wang is set to be sentenced on November 13,… More