Tag: NYSE

A couple of quick items regarding IPO alternatives

Here are two quick items regarding popular IPO alternatives, SPACs (special purpose acquisition corporations) and primary direct listings.

No primary direct listings for now—order approving NYSE rule change stayed

On August 26, the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets took action, pursuant to delegated authority, to approve a proposed NYSE rule change that would allow companies going public to raise capital through a primary direct listing.  (See this PubCo post.) This week, that rule change hit a “snag,” as the WSJ put it—the SEC notified the NYSE that the approval order had been stayed because the SEC had received a notice of intention to petition for review of the approval order. What’s that about?

NYSE persistence pays off—SEC approves primary direct listings

Persistence pays off. In June, the NYSE filed Amendment No. 2 to its application for a proposed rule change to allow companies going public to raise capital through a primary direct listing. Yesterday, the SEC approved that rule change. Prior to this new approval, under NYSE rules, only secondary sales were permitted in a direct listing, which meant that companies that had conducted direct listings looked more like well-heeled unicorns, where the company was not necessarily in need of additional capital. The new rule change is likely to be a game changer for the traditional underwritten IPO. So much so, in fact, that Nasdaq has now also submitted an application to permit companies to conduct direct listings with capital raises. (Update: This order has been stayed. See this PubCo post.)

NYSE takes another crack at primary direct listings—will it succeed?

In late November last year, the NYSE filed with the SEC a proposed rule change that would have allowed companies going public to raise capital through a primary direct listing. Under current NYSE rules, only secondary sales are permitted in a direct listing.  As a result, thus far, companies that have embarked on direct listings have looked more like well-heeled unicorns, where the company was not necessarily in need of additional capital.  The new proposal seemed to be a potential game changer for the traditional underwritten IPO. (See this PubCo post.)  However, as reported by CNBC and Reuters, a little over a week later, the SEC rejected the NYSE’s proposal, and it was removed from the NYSE website, causing a lot of speculation about the nature of the SEC’s objection and whether the proposal could be resurrected. At the time, an NYSE spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that the proposal had been rejected, but said that the NYSE remained “‘committed to evolving the direct listing product…This sort of action is not unusual in the filing process and we will continue to work with the SEC on this initiative.’” (See this PubCo post.) The NYSE did persevere, and the proposal was refiled in December with some clarifications and corrections. But then—silence. In January and February, the NYSE had four meetings with SEC staff, including folks in Chair Clayton’s office, presumably to make the case for the proposal.  A number of public comment letters, of divided opinion, were submitted. Apparently, the SEC remained unconvinced, designating a longer period to decide, and then in late March, issued an Order instituting proceedings to determine whether to approve or disapprove the proposed rule change.  Undaunted, the NYSE is giving it another go and has just filed Amendment No. 2.   Will it be enough to convince the SEC?

NYSE tolls compliance period for certain continued listing requirements

Like Nasdaq (see this Pubco post), the NYSE has filed with the SEC, and the SEC has declared immediately effective, a rule change providing relief to listed companies that, in light of market conditions resulting from the impact of COVID-19, have fallen out of compliance with two of the NYSE continued listing standards. The relief will provide listed companies with a longer period to regain compliance with the Dollar Price Standard (i.e., when the average closing price of the security is less than $1.00 over a consecutive 30 trading-day period) and the $50 Million Standard (i.e., when a company’s average global market cap over a consecutive 30 trading-day period is less than $50 million and, at the same time, stockholders’ equity is less than $50 million) by tolling the compliance periods through June 30, 2020. Since the last week of February 2020, the NYSE has witnessed an unusually high number of listed companies that have fallen out of compliance with these continued listing standards. The NYSE “believes that it is undesirable to impose on companies in the midst of this crisis the additional burden of attempting to return to compliance with these market price-based standards while the crisis is ongoing, which may be unrealistic for many companies in the immediate term whereas their prospects may be better once the current extraordinary conditions have passed.”

It’s baaack—NYSE refiles (and then amends) proposal for primary direct listings

In late November, the NYSE filed with the SEC a proposed rule change that would have allowed companies going public to raise capital through a primary direct listing. Under current NYSE rules, only secondary sales are permitted in a direct listing.  As a result, thus far, companies that have embarked on direct listings have been more of the unicorn variety, where the company was not necessarily in need of additional capital.  The new proposal looked like it could be a game changer for the traditional underwritten IPO. (See this PubCo post.)  But then, as reported by CNBC and Reuters, a little over a week later, the SEC rejected the NYSE’s proposal, and it was removed from the NYSE website, causing a lot of speculation about the nature of the SEC’s objection and whether the proposal could be resurrected. At the time, an NYSE spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that the proposal had been rejected, but said that the NYSE remained “‘committed to evolving the direct listing product…This sort of action is not unusual in the filing process and we will continue to work with the SEC on this initiative.’” (See this PubCo post.) Apparently, the NYSE meant what it said: the proposal was just refiled with some clarifications and corrections, and then, on Friday afternoon, the NYSE filed an amendment to the refiled proposal, which supersedes the earlier filing in its entirety. So now we’re back at the starting gate.

SEC fast tracks a “no” to NYSE primary direct listing proposal

You’d have to assume that the SEC didn’t spend a whole lot of time agonizing over the rule proposal—as reported by CNBC and Reuters, it took only a little over a week for the SEC to reject the NYSE’s proposed rule change that would have allowed companies going public to raise capital through primary direct listings. (See this PubCo post.)  It remains to be seen whether the SEC is opposed to the concept in general, making rehabilitation of the proposal unlikely, at least in the near term, or whether the proposal could be quickly resurrected after some fixes to the proposal (or to other rules to accommodate the proposal).

NYSE proposes allowing primary direct listings—will the rule change also be a game changer?

The NYSE has filed with the SEC a proposed rule change that would allow companies going public to raise capital through a primary direct listing. Under current NYSE rules, only secondary sales are permitted in a direct listing.  As a result, thus far, companies that have embarked on direct listings have been more of the unicorn variety, where the company was not necessarily in need of additional capital.  If approved by the SEC, will the new proposal be a game changer for the traditional underwritten IPO? 

Time to catch up on recent proposals at the Exchanges

Time to catch up on some of the recent proposals at the Exchanges.

NYSE proposes to amend shareholder approval requirements

No, it’s not Groundhog Day. (In fact, it’s election day.  Go vote!) But this proposal from the NYSE to amend Sections 312.03 and 312.04 of the Listed Company Manual sounds remarkably similar to the one that the SEC has just approved for Nasdaq—modifications to the price requirements for purposes of determining whether shareholder approval is required for certain issuances.  (See this PubCo post.)  Just like the new Nasdaq rule, the NYSE proposal would

change the definition of market value for purposes of the shareholder approval rule and
eliminate the requirement for shareholder approval of issuances at a price less than book value but greater than market value.