On May 16, the Staff of the Division of Corporation Finance updated C&DI’s across topic areas primarily relating to Securities Act practice. This is the first set of updates to the C&DI’s for the Securities Act and its rules and forms since February 2012. The new and revised C&DI’s do not reveal significant shifts in Staff views, but they do include new guidance regarding Rule 144 holding periods and volume limits, use of resale registration statements after private equity line financings, Form 8-K reporting of material impairments and disclosure of non-GAAP financial measures in a company’s compensation discussion and analysis. Following is a summary of the new and revised C&DI’s.

Securities Act Forms
  • In calculating whether the size of a stock and warrants offering exceeds Form S-3 General Instruction I.B.6(a)’s one-third cap, an issuer is required to follow Instruction 2, even when the warrants are not exercisable for common stock within 12 months. (Securities Act Forms Question 116.24)
  • An issuer may post-effectively amend an automatic shelf registration statement to add more securities of a class already registered, even when the initial registration statement registered the offer and sale of a specified number and class of securities. (Securities Act Rules Question 210.03)
  • Even if an issuer relies on Rule 430B(b) to omit from a prospectus until after effectiveness “the identities of selling security holders and amounts of securities to be registered on their behalf,” the issuer must disclose the aggregate number of shares registered for resale before effectiveness. (Securities Act Rules Question 228.04)
  • When a company files a resale registration statement for securities sold in a private equity line financing, the private transaction may be deemed to be “completed” (a factor that must be met for the company to be allowed to register the “resale” of the securities prior to its exercise of the put) despite the lack of a fixed price if (1) the agreement provides for pricing based on a formula tied to market price and (2) there is an existing market for the securities as evidenced by trading on a national securities exchange or through the facilities of the OTC Bulletin Board or the OTCQX or OTCQB marketplaces of OTC Link ATS. (Securities Act Sections Question 139.13)
  • Although Form S-4 Item 3 does not expressly contemplate incorporation by reference of risk factors, a registrant that is permitted to, and does, incorporate by reference registrant information under either Item 11 or 13 of Form S-4 may also incorporate risk factors from its latest Form 10-K. (Securities Act Forms Question 125.12)

Rule 144
  • Non-affiliate donees and pledgees of securities that the donor or pledgor acquired in the open market may resell the securities pursuant to Rule 144 without regard to the holding period requirement of Rule 144(d) but subject to the current information requirement in Rule 144(c)(1). (Securities Act Rules Question 129.03 and Interpretation 532.01)
  • An affiliate’s sales of securities back to an issuer in a private transaction are excludable when calculating the amount of securities that the affiliate may sell under Rule 144. (Securities Act Rules Question 133.07)

Regulation D
  •  If an acquiror seeks written consents from a target’s shareholders, which include non-accredited investors, to approve a business combination transaction involving the issuance of securities in reliance on Rule 505 or 506, then financial statement and other information specified in Rule 502(b)(2) must be provided to target shareholders who are non-accredited investors a reasonable amount of time prior to obtaining written consents. (Securities Act Rules Question 256.22)

Regulation S-K

  • Instruction 5 to Regulation S-K Item 402(b) provides that the rules governing non-GAAP financial measures do not apply to target levels (for compensation purposes) that are non-GAAP financial measures, other than to disclose “how the number is calculated from the registrant’s audited financial statements.” This Instruction applies not only to the target levels but also to the actual results of the non-GAAP financial measure used as a target. (Regulation S-K Question 118.09)
  • In an IPO, a price range in excess of $2 for offerings up to $10 per share, or in excess of 20% of the high end of the range for offerings over $10 per share, will not be considered a “bona fide estimate of the range of the maximum offering price” for purposes of Instruction 1 to Regulation S-K Item 501(b)(3). Also, “[i]f an auction clearing price will be used as the primary factor in establishing the final offering price, a price range in excess of $4, for offerings up to $20 per share, or in excess of 20% of the high end of the range, for offerings over $20 per share, will not be considered bona fide.” (Regulation S-K Question 134.04)
  • Although Regulation S-K Item 601(b)(101)(i) requires an interactive data file “only if the registration statement contains a price or price range,” “registration statements for shelf offerings, at-the-market offerings, exchange offers and secondary offerings must comply with the interactive data filing requirement even though they generally do not include a specific offering price at the time of effectiveness, unless the financial statements are incorporated by reference into the registration statement” (emphasis added). (Regulation S-K Question 146.17)

Exchange Act Form 8-K

  • An impairment conclusion that is made at a time that coincides with the preparation, review or audit of financial statements for the next periodic report, even if not made “in connection with” such preparation, review or audit, does not trigger an Item 2.06 Form 8-K. (Exchange Act Form 8-K Question 110.01)