On December 4, 2020, the SEC brought its first case charging a public company, The Cheesecake Factory, with making misleading disclosures about the effects of COVID-19 on its business operations and financial condition. The agency has made explicit since January that it is closely focused on this issue, and its settled action against The Cheesecake Factory, which agreed to pay a $125,000 penalty, signals that it will target issuers for failing to provide fulsome disclosure about the negative impacts of the pandemic.… More
Over the past decade, there has been an unprecedented shift in investor focus toward the analysis use of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) risks and impacts in investment decision-making. While the Securities & Exchange Commission has acknowledged this shift, it has to date resisted calls for the adoption of standards governing issuers’ disclosure of ESG risks.
Outgoing SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton has repeatedly offered his view that the SEC already requires companies to disclose material risks,… More
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted amendments to Exchange Act Rule 14a-8, effective January 4, 2021 increasing the economic interest of the shareholder/proponent for eligibility to submit a shareholder proposal for inclusion in an issuer’s proxy statement for its shareholders’ meetings. A link to the adopting release as published in the Federal Register on November 4, 2020 is available here.
These are the first significant amendments to Rule 14a-8 in over 35 years.… More
Just before the close of its fiscal year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought three noteworthy financial reporting cases against issuers that resulted from the agency’s increasingly sophisticated use of risk-based data analytics to detect disclosure violations. On September 28, 2020, the SEC filed settled actions against two issuers, as well as two officers of one of them, for falsifying their reported earnings per share (EPS). These actions,… More
On September 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in a 3-2 vote, approved several significant amendments to, and interpretive guidance on, the rules governing its whistleblower program. Most controversially, the SEC adopted the position that it has discretion to reduce the largest whistleblower awards based upon their size. The amendments, first proposed in 2018, have generated substantial opposition from the plaintiffs’ bar and within the Commission,… More
2020 has been a banner year for IPOs by special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Over 100 SPAC IPOs have closed so far in 2020, with aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $42.1 billion and an average IPO size of $382.4 million. This represents a dramatic increase from 2019, in which 59 SPAC IPOs closed, with aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $13.6 billion and an average IPO size of $230.5 million.… More
On August 26, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) amended the definition of “accredited investor,” one of the principal tests for determining eligibility for participation in private placements of securities. The amendments are designed to identify more effectively the institutional and individual investors that have the knowledge and expertise to participate in private placements, not only based on measures of income or net worth, but also based on defined measures of professional knowledge,… More
In June 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges with insurance company Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. for failing to disclose perks and benefits received by its former chief executive officer. Per the SEC order, Argo failed to report over $5.3 million in perks that its CEO received between 2014 and 2018 in violation of federal securities law. These benefits included personal use of corporate aircraft, helicopter trips,… More
The SEC recently amended its disclosure requirements for historical and pro forma financial statements arising from acquisitions and dispositions. While the revisions are fairly technical, overall they should reduce disclosure burdens and make it easier for public companies to pursue these transactions. The revisions also provide a useful reminder that public companies must sometimes disclose financial information even for very small acquisitions and should therefore strive to obtain reliable financial statements in every acquisition.… More
As many companies consider the need to raise capital, the SEC has provided FAQs that address how taking advantage of the relief provided under the COVID-19 Order may impact offerings of securities using Form S‑3. As described in our prior posts, the SEC has granted conditional relief to allow reporting companies to delay filings required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 due on or before July 1,… More