Tag: primary direct listings

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 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?

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.