In his first public speech as SEC Chair, Jay Clayton outlined for the Economic Club of New York eight principles that he aims to guide his tenure as Chair. In discussing these principles and some ways in which he plans to put them into practice, Clayton seemed to stress the need to focus more intently on the various costs of regulatory compliance—in dollars, in time, in effort, in complexity and in economic impact. In particular, Clayton drew attention to a reduction in the number of public companies in recent years—a “roughly 50% decline in the total number of U.S.-listed public companies over the last two decades”—attributing the decline at least in part to the expansion of disclosure requirements, in some cases beyond materiality. To address this issue, he asserted, the SEC “should review its rules retrospectively” from the perspective of the cumulative effect of required disclosure, not just each incremental slice. Finally, he noted that the SEC “has several initiatives underway to improve the disclosure available to investors, “ including implementation of recommendations contained in the SEC staff’s Report on Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K (see this PubCo post). According to Clayton, the staff “is making good progress on preparing rulemaking proposals based on this report….”
One of the arguments that has often been used to oppose the Dodd-Frank pay-ratio provision is that the rule does not really provide information that benefits investors; instead, the argument goes, the real animus for the rule is a political effort to focus attention on inequality. Now, an analysis of governance ratings from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, reported in the WSJ, suggests that pay-ratio information just could provide some warning signs that investors may find valuable.
Remember Form AP? That’s the form that the PCAOB is now requiring audit firms to use to name individual audit engagement partners. The form will also disclose the names and Firm IDs, locations and extent of participation of any other accounting firms, outside of the principal auditor, that participated in the audit, if their work constituted 5% or more of the total audit hours. (See this PubCo post.) Should companies care? Yes, says the Center for Audit Quality: the disclosures made in Form AP can help audit committee members in satisfying their responsibilities to oversee the engagement audit firm as well as other audit participants.
Corp Fin posts FAQs regarding extension of process for confidential submission of draft registration statements
On June 29, Corp Fin announced that it was extending the process for confidential submission of draft registration statements, currently available only for IPOs of emerging growth companies, to IPOs of companies that are not EGCs, as well as for most follow-on offerings made in the first year after going public. The extension of this confidential process will allow more companies to defer the public disclosure of sensitive or competitive information until they are almost ready to market the offering—and potentially to avoid the public disclosure altogether if they ultimately decide not to proceed with the offering. The new process will become available on July 10, 2017. (See this PubCo post.) Subsequently, Corp Fin issued a series of FAQs to provide additional guidance.
…submit a confidential draft registration statement for IPOs, as well as for most offerings made in the first year after going public, Corp Fin announced yesterday. Until now, that beneficial process, first permitted by the JOBS Act, has been available only to emerging growth companies. The extension of this confidential process will allow more companies to defer the public disclosure of sensitive or competitive information until they are almost ready to market the offering—and potentially to avoid the public disclosure altogether if they ultimately decide not to proceed with the offering. According to the press release, the change “will provide companies with more flexibility to plan their offering. The nonpublic review process after the IPO reduces the potential for lengthy exposure to market fluctuations that can adversely affect the offering process and harm existing public shareholders. By requiring a public filing period prior to the launch of marketing, the process incorporates a feature of the EGC review process that provides an opportunity for the public to evaluate those offerings.” The new process will become available on July 10, 2017.