On February 2, 2018, the SEC approved on an accelerated basis the NYSE’s proposal, as modified by Amendment No. 3, to change its listing qualifications to facilitate listings for certain non-IPO offerings. Section 102.01B of the NYSE Listed Company Manual (“Section 102.01B”) currently recognizes that some companies that have not previously registered their common equity securities under the Exchange Act, but which have sold common equity securities in a private placement, may wish to list those common equity securities on the NYSE at the time of effectiveness of a resale registration statement filed solely for the resale of the securities held by selling stockholders. Footnote (E) of Section 102.01B (“Footnote (E)”) currently provides that the NYSE will exercise its discretion to list these companies by determining that a company has met the $100 million aggregate market value of publicly-held shares requirement based on a combination of both (1) an independent third-party valuation of the company and (2) the most recent trading price for the company’s common stock in a trading system for unregistered securities operated by a national securities exchange or a registered broker-dealer (a “Private Placement Market”).
The proposal, as modified by Amendment No. 3 filed on December 8, 2017: (i) eliminates the requirement in Footnote (E) to have a private placement market trading price if there is a valuation from an independent third-party of $250 million in market value of publicly-held shares; (ii) sets forth several factors indicating when the independent third party providing the valuation would not be deemed “independent” under Footnote (E); (iii) amends NYSE Rule 15 to add a reference price for when a security is listed under Footnote (E); (iv) amends NYSE Rule 104 to specify Designated Market Maker (“DMM”) requirements when facilitating the opening of a security listed under Footnote (E) when there has been no sustained history of trading in a private placement trading market for such security; and (v) amends NYSE Rule 123D to specify that the NYSE may declare a regulatory halt prior to opening on a security that is the subject of an initial pricing upon NYSE listing and that has not, immediately prior to such initial pricing, traded on another national securities exchange or in the over-the-counter market.
However, Amendment No. 3 notably revises the proposal, as amended by Amendment No. 2 filed on August 16, 2017, to eliminate proposed changes to Footnote (E) that would have allowed a company to undertake a direct listing (i.e., listing immediately upon effectiveness of an Exchange Act registration statement only, such as Form 10 or Form 20-F, without any concurrent IPO or Securities Act registration). This means that a direct listing will now require a company to either (1) file a resale registration statement for the resale from time to time of securities held by existing securityholders or (2) undertake a primary offering. Although this may limit the efficiency of a direct listing, the rationale for the change might be to ensure that there is a basis for Securities Act Section 11 liability to attach to the direct listing. In contrast, Nasdaq allows a direct listing without a concurrent IPO or Securities Act registration.
As we have previously posted on, the NYSE originally issued its proposal on March 13, 2017, which was later withdrawn on July 19, 2017 and then amended by Amendment No. 1 on July 31, 2017. The SEC has solicited comments on the proposal, as amended by Amendment No. 3, for submission within 21 days of publication in the Federal Register.