On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, enacting it into law. The JOBS Act is intended to make it easier for smaller and earlier stage companies to raise capital and also to revitalize the U.S. market for initial public offerings, which has been in decline since the beginning of the last decade.
The provisions of the JOBS Act represent a watershed change to the laws and regulations governing capital raising for private companies. Some of the provisions – such as the “IPO on-ramp” provisions and the increase in the number of holders triggering mandatory registration and public reporting under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, are effective immediately. Others, including the new crowdfunding exemption, the removal of the ban on general solicitation for offerings under Rule 506 to accredited investors and Rule 144A to QIBs, and the new exemption modeled on Regulation A, will require SEC rulemaking before they come into force.Continue Reading Questions & comments
Senate Passes Modified JOBS Act - Regulatory Reform for Small and Emerging Growth Companies Speeds Closer to Fruition
On March 22, 2012, the Senate passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act by a vote of 73-26. The House of Representatives passed the JOBS Act on March 8, 2012 by a vote of 390-23. The Senate bypassed its typical committee process to rush the bill to a floor vote. Legislators in both parties and the President have adopted the JOBS Act as an election-year demonstration of their commitment to small businesses and entrepreneurialism, and they have paid little heed to strongly-worded opposition from SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, state regulators and organizations ranging from the Council for Institutional Investors to the AARP.Continue Reading Questions & comments
The March Towards Meaningful Reform for Small and Emerging Growth Companies Moves Forward - House Passes Measures to Open Private Capital Raising and Facilitate an On-Ramp of New IPOs
Building on months of momentum in Congress, on March 8, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act by a bi-partisan vote of 390-23. A similar bill, S. 1933, has been introduced in the Senate and may be voted on this month. The JOBS Act is intended to address the sharp decline in U.S. public offerings during the last decade and to facilitate capital raising by smaller companies. The provisions of the JOBS Act will, if enacted, represent a watershed change to the laws and regulations governing capital raising for private companies and would create a limited, temporary and scaled regulatory compliance pathway, referred to as an “IPO on-ramp,” for companies going public and newly public companies. The IPO on-ramp is designed to reduce the costs and uncertainties of accessing public capital.Continue Reading Questions & comments
Just before 2011 year-end, the SEC adopted final rules first proposed in January 2011 to exclude the value of an investor's home when determining if an investor meets the net worth test for an accredited investor. A person's status as an accredited investor affects eligibility, sophistication and information requirements for certain unregistered securities offerings. The final rules differ from the proposed rules by addressing home equity indebtedness incurred in the 60 days prior to an offering, and by grandfathering securities purchase rights held prior to enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank").Continue Reading Questions & comments
California Corporations Code Amended to Simplify Restrictions on Distributions and Permit Waivers of Application of Section 500 to Preferences of Preferred Stock
On September 1, 2011, California governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 571, which simplifies restrictions on dividends, repurchases and redemptions of shares. The restrictions are set forth in Sections 500 to 509 of the California Corporations Code, and are commonly referred to collectively as “Section 500.” These provisions are designed to protect the interests of creditors and senior equity holders against transactions that might undermine their seniority in the capital structure. Section 500 applies to companies incorporated in California and to companies incorporated elsewhere but deemed subject to the same restrictions by virtue of satisfying the requirements of Section 2115 of the California Corporations Code for “pseudo-California corporations.” Section 500 uses the term “distributions” to encompass dividends of cash or property (other than shares of the corporation) and repurchases and redemptions of shares.
SEC Considering New Regulations Governing Capital Formation for Smaller Companies, Crowdfunding, Social and Other New Media
On April 6, 2011, Mary L. Schapiro, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") sent a letter to Darrell E. Issa, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, responding to a March 22, 2011 letter from Rep. Issa concerning capital formation issues. In her letter, Chairman Schapiro indicated that the SEC would consider revising the rules that govern the way in which small businesses are able to tap into equity markets in the new era of crowdfunding, social media and other new communications media that did not exist when the current SEC rules were established. Rep. Issa's letter discussed a number of perceived problems encountered in recent securities offerings, including the January 2011 decision by Goldman Sachs and Facebook to offer shares in a $1.5 billion private offering only outside the U.S. In her letter, Chairman Schapiro indicated that the review is intended to give the SEC "a fresh look at our rules to develop ideas for the Commission about ways to reduce the regulatory burdens on small business capital formation in a manner consistent with investor protection."Continue Reading Questions & comments
On January 25, 2011, the SEC proposed new amendments to conform the definition of “accredited investor” under Rule 215 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 501 of Regulation D to requirements imposed by Congress under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”). Various exemptions for private or other limited offerings of securities under the Securities Act of 1933 and state “blue sky” laws depend on whether participants are “accredited investors.” Non-accredited investors who participate in private offerings under Rule 505 or Rule 506 of Regulation D must receive financial and other information that is not required to be given to accredited investors.
Included in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 signed into law on December 17, 2010, a tax incentive relating to qualified small business stock ("QSBS") was extended for another twelve months. Pursuant to this extension, noncorporate taxpayers are allowed to exclude all (100%) of their gain from the sale or exchange of QSBS (subject to a variety of special rules), provided that the stock is acquired after September 27, 2010 and before January 1, 2012. The gain exclusion provision only applies to QSBS held for more than five years. The amount of gain from the sale of QSBS that can be excluded by a taxpayer is generally limited to the greater of $10,000,000 (in the aggregate) or 10 times the tax basis of the QSBS sold. Generally speaking, and with a few exceptions, QSBS must be acquired when it is issued in exchange for money, property (other than stock) or services.