Yesterday the SEC adopted a new rule 163B (Final rule release can be found here) that extends a “test-the-waters” accommodation—currently a tool available to emerging growth companies or “EGCs”—to all issuers.

Under the new rule, all issuers will be allowed to engage in test-the-waters communications with qualified institutional buyers and institutional accredited investors regarding a contemplated registered securities offering prior to, or following, the filing of a registration statement related to such offering. These communications will 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. Under the rule there are no filing or legending requirements; the communications are deemed “offers”; and issuers subject to Regulation FD will need to consider whether any information in a test-the-waters communication would trigger disclosure obligations under Regulation FD or whether an exemption under Regulation FD would apply.