Corp Fin has posted an announcement regarding its plans in the event of a federal government shutdown. The announcement indicates that its activities would be “extremely limited.” (At a hearing yesterday before the House Financial Services Committee, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said that the entire SEC staff would be down to about 400 employees.) According to the announcement, although EDGAR will continue to operate and accept filings, Corp Fin “will not be able to accelerate the effectiveness of registration statements.” In light of the uncertainty, Corp Fin suggests that “registrants with pending registration or offering statements that are substantially complete, and that have met all statutory requirements to request acceleration of the effective date (including the dissemination of any draft registration statement for the required periods under Securities Act Section 6(e) or the related Division accommodations) or qualification, may want to consider requesting effectiveness or qualification while the Division continues its normal operations.”
Aa in past shutdowns, Corp Fin has posted a series of FAQs, summarized below, primarily addressing companies in the registration process (or contemplating offerings) but potentially caught in the shutdown. There are a couple of FAQs about shareholder proposals and guidance. Corp Fin plans to post updates on operating status on the SEC’s website.
Yesterday, Corp Fin posted a sample comment letter containing the types of comments that Corp Fin staff might, depending on the particular facts and circumstances, issue to companies seeking to raise capital in securities offerings amid the current market and price volatility. In that context, Corp Fin believes that “specific, tailored disclosure about market events and conditions, the company’s situation and the potential impact on investors is warranted to provide investors with the information they need to make informed investment decisions and comply with the company’s disclosure obligations under the federal securities laws.” Corp Fin suggests that companies preparing offering disclosure documents take these sample comments into account, particularly if the disclosure documents would not typically be subject to staff review, such as automatically effective registration statements and prospectus supplements for takedowns from existing shelf registration statements. While most of the sample comments are not altogether surprising, Corp Fin does have some notable suggested additions to the prospectus cover page.
Corp Fin has announced that it intends to begin to publicly release on EDGAR “bedbug” letters—letters issued by Corp Fin to advise the issuer that its registration statement or other offering document is so deficient that Corp Fin won’t even bother to review it until the filing is amended to repair the deficiencies. (This type of “bedbug” letter is not to be confused with the “poison pen” type of “bedbug” letter that is frequently submitted to the SEC by participants in proxy contests for the purpose of identifying errors, misleading statements and violations made in filings by their opponents. Why they are both called “bedbug” letters is above my pay grade.)
by Cydney Posner At PLI’s Securities Regulation Institute this morning, Corp Fin Director Keith Higgins highlighted* some recent issues the staff has identified in the context of public offerings.