Reverse Mergers & Public Shells - The End Has Come - Part 1.1 of 3
Liberalizing Communications Around the Time of Registered Offerings
The rules update and liberalize permitted offering activity and communications to allow more information to reach investors by revising the "gun-jumping" provisions under the Securities Act. The cumulative effects of these rules are:
- Well-known seasoned issuers are permitted to engage at any time in oral and written communications, including use at any time of a new type of written communication called a "free writing prospectus," subject to enumerated conditions (including, in some cases, filing with the Commission).
- All reporting issuers are, at any time, permitted to continue to publish regularly released factual business information and forward-looking information.
- Non-reporting issuers are, at any time, permitted to continue to publish factual business information that is regularly released and intended for use by persons other than in their capacity as investors or potential investors.
- Communications by issuers more than 30 days before filing a registration statement will be permitted so long as they do not reference a securities offering that is the subject of a registration statement.
- All issuers and other offering participants will be permitted to use a free writing prospectus after the filing of the registration statement, subject to enumerated conditions (including, in some cases, filing with the Commission). Offering participants, other than the issuer, will be liable for a free writing prospectus only if they use, refer to, or participate in the planning and use of the free writing prospectus by another offering participant who uses it. Issuers will have liability for any issuer information contained in any other offering participant's free writing prospectus as well as any free writing prospectus they prepare, use, or refer to.
- The exclusions form the definition of prospectus are expanded to allow a broader category of routine communications regarding issuers, offerings, and procedural matters, such as communications about the schedule for an offering or about account-opening procedures.
- The exemptions for research reports are expanded.
The rules address the treatment under the Securities Act of electronic communications, including electronic road shows and information located on or hyper-linked to an issuer's website. The rules define written communication as any communication that is written, printed, a radio or television broadcast, or a graphic communication. The definition of graphic communication and, thus, electronic road show excludes communications that are carried live and in real-time to a live audience, regardless of the means of transmission. Electronic road shows for initial public offerings of common equity or convertible equity securities will have to make a bona fide electronic road show readily available to an unrestricted audience to avoid filing the electronic road show with the Commission. No other road shows will be subject to filing.
Liability Timing Issues
The Commission addressed the liability provisions under the Securities Act. In this regard, the Commission:
- Reaffirmed the interpretation and adopted an interpretive rule that, for purposes of disclosure liability under Section 12(a)(2) and Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act, when assessing whether a statement to an investor prior to or at the time of sale by a seller includes or represents a material misstatement or omits to state a material fact necessary to make the statement in light of the circumstances under which it was made, not misleading, information conveyed to the investor only after the time of the contract of sale should not be taken into account.
- Approved changes to the Securities Act procedures for shelf registration that will ensure that prospectus supplements filed after the initial effective date of a registration statement will be included in the registration statement for Securities Act Section 11 liability purposes.
- Approved rules that will establish a new Section 11 effective date for each takedown off a shelf registration statement for issuers and underwriters, and not for experts, directors, and signing officers. If an expert provides a new report or opinion in an Exchange Act report or in connection with the takedown that would require a consent, however, there would be a new effective date for that expert.
To be continued...