The Securities and Exchange Commission (the"Commission") has adopted amendments to Rule 506 under the Securities Act of 1933 (the"Act") that permit general solicitation and general advertising in securities offerings under this exemption from registration provided that all purchasers are accredited investors. The Commission also adopted a parallel amendment to Rule 144A so long as all purchasers are Qualified Institutional Buyers ("QIBs).
Rule 506 was also amended to make the exemption from registration unavailable if "bad actors" are participants or associated with the offering by virtue of being a convered person.
Regulation D, Rule 506(b) and Rule 506(c) gives start-ups and small companies greater flexibility to raise investor funds to grow their business
The general solicitation amendments were required by the JOB Act and the "bad actor" amendments were required by the Dodd-Frank Act. The exemptions from registration are available for both private and publicly traded companies, domestic or foreign.
Regulation D, Rule 506(c) gives start-ups and small companies greater flexibility to raise investor funds to grow their business.
Changes to Regulation D mandated by the JObs Act
Rule 506 and No general solicitation
Rule 506 was the safe harbor under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933. With the JOBS, Rule 506 has become Rule 506(b) and Rule 506(c) and Section 4(2) has become Section 4(a)(2).
Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act exempts from registration transactions by an issuer not involving any public offering. Rule 506(b) of Regulation D is considered a “safe harbor” under Section 4(a)(2). It provides objective standards that a company can rely on to meet the requirements of the Section 4(a)(2) exemption.
Companies conducting an offering under Rule 506(b) can raise an unlimited amount of money and can sell securities to an unlimited number of accredited investors. An offering under Rule 506(b), however, is subject to the following requirements:
No general solicitation or advertising to market the securities;
Securities may not be sold to more than 35 non-accredited investors (all non-accredited investors, either alone or with a purchaser representative, must meet the legal standard of having sufficient knowledge and experience in financial and business matters to be capable of evaluating the merits and risks of the prospective investment);
If non-accredited investors are participating in the offering, the company conducting the offering;
The Company must give any non-accredited investors disclosure documents that generally contain the same type of information as provided in registered offerings (the company is not required to provide specified disclosure documents to accredited investors, but, if it does provide information to accredited investors, it must also make this information available to the non-accredited investors as well);
Must give any non-accredited investors financial statement information specified in Rule 506; and,
Should be available to answer questions from prospective purchasers who are non-accredited investors.Purchasers in a Rule 506(b) offering receive “restricted securities."
A company is required to file a notice with the Commission on Form D within 15 days after the first sale of securities in the offering. Although the Securities Act provides a federal preemption from state registration and qualification under Rule 506(b), the states still have authority to require notice filings and collect state fees.
Rule 506(b) offerings are subject to “bad actor” disqualification provisions.
The General Solicitation Amendment to Rule 506
To implement the mandate of the JOBS Act, the Commission has divide Rule 506 into two separate exemptions: Rule 506(b) and Rule 506(c). Rule 506(b) continues the exemption, previously provided by Rule 506, which permits sales to up to 35 sophisticated investors and an unlimited number of accredited investors and prohibits general solicitation and advertising. The new Rule 506(c) permits the use of general solicitation and advertising, subject to the following conditions:
All terms and conditions of Rule 501, Definitions, and Rule 502(a), integration with other offerings, and Rule 502(b) information requirements apply, and the securities issued in the offering are restricted within the meaning of Rule 144.
All purchasers of the securities, but not offerees, must be accredited investors in Rule 501. The definitions also includes persons that the issuer reasonably believes to qualify as an accredited investor.
The issuer must take reasonable steps to verify that all purchasers are accredited investors.
The Release makes it unequivocal that, as required by the JOBS Act, Rule 506(c) will be treated as a private placement exemption even though general solicitation and advertising will be permitted; however, the statutory private placement exemption provided by Section 4(a)(2) of the Act (previously enumerated Section 4(2) and which most practitioners view as the safety net in case the Rule 506, now Rule 506(b) exemption fails) continues to be conditioned on the absence of general solicitation and advertising. Thus Section 4(a)(2) is not the parallel statutory exemption to Rule 506(c) offerings but is in the traditional, but renumbered, Rule 506(b) offerings.
Significantly, the Release also makes it unequivocal that, because offerings conducted pursuant to Rule 506(c) are deemed by the JOBS Act to not involve a public offering, hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital funds and similar private funds may sell their securities using general solicitation and advertising under Rule 506(c) without losing their ability to qualify for exemptions from registration in the Investment Company Act of 1940, which are conditioned on the fund not making a public offering of securities.
Except for limited transition rules, discussed below, an issuer cannot rely on both Rule 506(b) and Rule 506(c) in the same offering. The long standing integration rules for determining what constitutes a separate offering remain in effect.
An issuer that commenced a Rule 506 offering before the effective date of the new Rule 506(c), may choose to use either Rule 506(b) or Rule 506(c) for the portion of the offering conducted after the effective date of the new rule. Ise pf Ri;e 506(c) will not impact the availability of Rule 506(b) for sales in the same offering that were made to investors, both sophisticated and accredited, before the effective date of Rule 506(c).
Bad Actor Amendments to Rule 506
The Issuer, any predecessor of the issuer, and any affiliated issuer.
Directors of the issuer.
Executive officers of the issuers, as well as, other officers of the issuer who participate in the offering. Participation in the offering refers to more than incidental invlolvement, and could include involvement in due diligence, preparation of disclosure document, and communications with prospective investors or other participants in the offering process.
General partners and managing partners of the issuer.
Any Beneficial Owner of 20% or more of the issue's outstanding voting equity securities, calculated on the basis of voting power.
Promoters connected with the issuer in any capacity at the time of the sale. The term "promoter" is defined in Rule 405 to mean anyone who, alone or together with other, directly or indirectly takes initiative in founding the business, or who in onnection with the founding of the business receives 10% or more of a class of issuer securities or 10% or more of the proceeds from the sale of a class of issuer secuirities.
Any person being paid, directly or indirectly, for soliciting purchasers in the offering, as well as, such person's general partners, managing members, directors, executive officers, other officers participating in the offering, general partners, and managing member of any such investment manager or solicitor or general partner or managing member of such investment manager or solicitor.
Investment managers of issuers that are pooled investment funds, as well as such investment manager's general partners and managing members, and the directors, executive officers, other officers participating in the offering, general partners, and managing members of such investment manager or its general partner or managing member.
Rule 506 is unavailable if any covered person has engaged in any of the following disqualifying events, unless iethe the Commission or the court or regulatory body that issued the relevant order determines that disqualification is not necessry in the particular circumstances and grants a waiver of disqualification. In addition, even if there is a disqualifying event, an offering will not lose the Rule 506 exemption if the issuer can establish that it did not know, and in the exercise of reasonable care based on factual inquiry could not have known, that a disqualification existed. The following are disqualifying events:
Criminal Convictions. An offering is disqualified if any covered person was convicted of a misdemeanor or felony (i) in connetion with the purchase or sale of a security; (ii) involving the making of a false filing with the Commission; or (iii)arising out of the conduct of the business of an underwriter, broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer, investment adviser, or paid solicitor of purchasers of securities. A conviction is disqualifying only if it ocurred within five years befor the Rule 506 sale in the case of the issuer, its predecessor, or an affiliated issuer, and ten years before the Rule 506 sale in the case of all other covered persons.
Court Injunctions and Restraining Orders. An offering is disqualified if any covered person is subject to a court order entered within five years before the Rule 506 sale that restrains such person from engaging in any conduct or practice (i) in connection with the purchase or sale of a security; (ii) involving the making of a false filing with the Commission; or (iii)arising out of the conduct of the business of an underwriter, broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer, investment adviser, or paid solicitor of purchasers of securities. A court order is not a disqualifying only if either it was entered into more than five years before the offering (even if it remains in effet at the time of the offering) or if the court order is no longer in effect at the time of the offering, even if entered into within the five year period.
Final Orders of Regulators. An offering is disqualified if any covered person is subject to a final order, including a settlement order, of a state securities regulator, federal or state banking regulator, state insurance regulator, or the CFTC that (i) at the time of the Rule 506 sale bars the person from associating with an entitiy regulated by such regulator, engaging in the business of securities, insurance or banking; or engaging in savigs association or credit union activities; or (ii) is based on a violation of a law or regulation that prohibits fraudulent, manipulative or deceptive conduct and was entered into within ten years befor the Rule 506 sale. Bars are disqualifying for as long as they are in effect, regardless of how long ago they were ordered. By contrast, final order covered in section (ii) above cease to be disqualifying ten years after their entry.
Commission Disciplinary Orders. An offering is disqualified if any Cover Person is subject to a Commission order under specified provisions of the securities laws that, at the time of the Rule 506 sale, (i) suspends or revokes such person's registration as a broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer, or investment adviser; (ii) places limitations on the activities functions, or operations of such person; or (iii) bars such person from being associated with any entity or from participating in an offering of penny stock. Discqualification continues for as long as som ast is prohibited or required to be perfored pursuant to the order. As a result, there is no cut-off date if the order involves a permanent prohibition. However, if the order calls for performing a specific act, suh as paying a penalty, the order is no longer disqualifying once the required act has been full performed.
Commission Cease and Desist Orders. An offing is disqualified if any Covered Person is subject to a Commission oreder entered into within five years befor the Rule 506 sale that orders the person to cease and desist from committing or causing violations or future violations of (i) and sienter based anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, or (ii) Section 5 of the Securitieis Act of 1933.
Suspension or Expulsion from SRO Membership or Association with an SRO Member. An offering is disqualified if any covered person is susended or expelled from membership in, or suspended or barred from associaiton with, a stock exchange or other self regulatory organization for conduct inconsisitent with just and equitable principles of trade.
Commission Stop Orders. An offering is disqualified if any covered person was an issuer or an underwriter of an offering which, within five years of the Rule 506 sale, was subject to a Commision stop order or order suspending a Regulation A exemption, or is, at the time of the sale. the subject of an investigation or proceeding to determine whether such an order should be issued.
United Stated Postal Service False Representation Orders. An offering is disqualified if any covered person is subject to a United States Postal Service false representation order entered into within five years befor the Rule 506 sale, or is, at the time of the sale, subject to an injunction or temporary restraining order with respect to conduct alleged to constitute a scheme for obtaining money or property through the mail by means of false representation.
Transitions Matters. Disqualifying events that occurred before the effective date of the Rule 506 amendments will not make Rule 506 unavailable. However, a description of any such events must be proided to each purchaser, a reasonable time before the Rule 506 sale. In addition, disqualifying events relating to an affiliated issuer will not disqualify the offering if they occurred before the afffiliate relationship existed.
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