• Posts by James C. Kennedy
    Partner

    Jim Kennedy practices in the Business Representation & Transactions Group. The focus of his practice is corporate, securities, and financing law, where he has extensive experience in mergers, acquisitions and ...

On December 11, 2019, in response to the SEC’s rejection of its initial primary direct listing proposal, the NYSE filed a revised rule change proposal that would allow issuers to sell newly issued primary shares in a direct listing. A direct listing refers to the listing of a privately held company’s stock for trading on a national stock exchange without conducting an underwritten offering, spin-off or transfer quotation from another regulated stock exchange. The proposal would delay, until 90 trading days after the direct listing, the requirement that an issuer have 400 round lot holders at the time of listing.

As we explained in our September 2019 Snapshot, on August 21, 2019, the SEC issued new guidance regarding the role of proxy advisors in the proxy voting process. We expect this guidance to play an important role in the upcoming 2020 proxy season, as the SEC further defines the voting obligations of registered investment advisors and seeks to promote greater accountability on the part of the proxy advisory firms. Read more here.

On November 5, 2019, the SEC proposed amendments to certain procedural requirements and resubmission thresholds under the shareholder proposal rule of Rule 14a-8.

On November 5, 2019, the SEC proposed amendments to its rules governing proxy solicitations to require proxy advisors to provide to their clients more extensive disclosure of material conflicts of interest.

On October 16, 2019, the Division issued a bulletin providing guidance on certain issues arising under Exchange Act Rule 14a-8.  The bulletin addressed the “ordinary business” exception under Rule 14a-8(i)(7), which allows a company to exclude from its proxy statement certain proposals that “deal[ ] with a matter relating to the company’s ordinary business operations.” The applicability of the exception is based on (1) the subject matter of the proposal and (2) the degree to which the proposal involves the “micromanagement” of the company. A bulletin is not a rule ...

On September 26, 2019, the SEC adopted final rules permitting all companies to gauge market interest in registered offerings (including possible initial public offerings) through “testing the waters” by reaching out to certain institutional investors before filing a registration statement. Prior to these rules, only emerging growth companies had been able to engage in this activity under provisions of the JOBS Act. New Securities Act Rule 163B will allow any issuer to engage in oral or written communications with potential investors who are (or are reasonably believed to ...

On August 21, 2019, the SEC issued an interpretation and related guidance regarding the applicability of certain rules to proxy advisory firms.  The SEC interpretation imposes new regulatory oversight on proxy advisory firms that clarifies that proxy advisers are subject to Rule 14a-9 and the anti-fraud rules concerning materially false or misleading statements.

We expect proxy advisory firms will provide additional disclosures in in their reports in response to the guidance, such as:

  • Explanations of the methodology used to formulate voting advice;
  • Disclosures of peer group ...

On August 8, 2019, the SEC proposed rule amendments to modernize the business, legal proceedings and risk factors disclosures that public companies are required to make pursuant to Regulation S-K. 

The proposed amendments to Items 101(a), 101(c) and 105 would focus on a principles-based approach to allow companies to address the particular aspects of these disclosures that are material to each company.  Under amended Item 101(a), companies would be required to disclose information only to the extent it is material to an understanding of the development of the company’s business.  ...

On July 31, 2019, the SEC and North American Securities Administrators Association published a staff statement on “opportunity zones” and related compliance implications under federal and state securities laws considerations.

In general, the statement indicated that interests in a “qualified opportunity zone” (QOF), which is an investment vehicle organized as a corporation or partnership to invest in qualified opportunity zone property, will be considered securities within the purview of federal and state securities laws, except under limited circumstances.

As ...

On July 12, 2019, the SEC staff published a statement seeking to encourage public companies to actively prepare for the transition away from LIBOR. Among other considerations, the SEC statement provides that such preparation should include determining current contractual exposure to LIBOR and evaluating possible alternatives to LIBOR in future contracts.  The Division of Corporation Finance also provided specific advice to public companies that they should consider disclosures relevant to investors pertaining to LIBOR’s expected discontinuation.

For more information ...

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