Category Archives: OTC Markets Pink Sheets

What is Tacking Under Rule 144?

Tacking under Rule 144 allows a holder of restricted securities to aggregate the separate holding periods of prior holders in order to meet the Rule 144 holding period requirement.

Rule 144 Holding Periods:  Either Six Months or One Year

The holding period for mandatory SEC filers is 6 months.  These are fully reporting Issuers filing 10-K, 10-Q and 8-Ks and “subject to” the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

In contrast, the Rule 144 holding period for voluntary SEC filers and non-reporting Pink Sheets is 12 months.

Rule 144 Tacking is Allowed for Restricted Stock and Convertible Debt

Tacking is used for both restricted stock, and for convertible promissory notes, as well.

For example, if a Note is documented at over a year old, the Rule 144 holding period is likely met even if the Note holder converts into common stock immediately prior to seeking a Rule 144 legal opinion.  This is because the Note holder is allowed to tack the age of the Note onto the age of the newly issued stock to meet the 12 month holding period.

Tacking Under Rule 144 is Only Permitted to Non Affiliates

By permitting tacking, the SEC allows a selling security holder to include the holding period of a prior non-affiliate holder.   However, if the securities were purchased from an affiliate, tacking is not permitted and the holding period starts over.

For example, if a non affiliate shareholder who owned stock in an SEC mandatory filer for seven months sells stock in a private Stock Purchase Agreement to a new non affiliate shareholder today, the new shareholder has already exceeded the 6 month holding period.

Removing the restricted legend on the stock will require the new shareholder to provide documentation which shows the origin and history of the shares, including the prior holder’s purchase date and non affiliate status.

OTC Securities Lawyer Answers Rule 144 Questions on Tacking

Shareholders with questions regarding tacking under SEC Rule 144 or Section 4(a)(1) can contact OTC Bulletin Board and OTCMarkets securities attorney Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

Tacking of Rule 144 Holding Periods for Distributions of Stock

Do pro rata distributions of restricted stock from a corporate entity shareholder to its individual shareholders affect the Rule 144 holding period?

No.  Under Rule 144(d), the holding period of the corporate entity shareholder may be tacked onto the holding period of an individual shareholder who receives the distribution of restricted stock.

Documenting the Origin and History of Rule 144 Restricted Stock

In order for a Rule 144 opinion letter to be issued by an experienced OTC Markets Pink Sheet and Bulletin Board securities attorney like Matt Stout, the shareholder must provide documentation showing the origin and history of the shares.  The main task of an OTC securities lawyer issuing Rule 144 legal opinions is to confirm when and how the securities were first issued, and then to track every transaction from that point forward.

Rule 144 Securities Attorney Matt Stout Drafts Legal Opinions for Shareholders

OTC securities lawyer Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. reviews documents at no cost in preparation for drafting legal opinions under Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) for Pink Sheets and OTCMarkets OTCQB stocks.   Shareholders can email certificates and Rule 144 documentation to mstout@otclawyers.com or call Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 to discuss Rule 144 and clearing restricted stock.

Tacking onto the Holding Period of Convertible Notes under Rule 144

Does Accrued Interest Affect the Holding Period Under Rule 144(d)?

When Convertible Promissory Notes with accrued but unpaid interest are exchanged for stock in a public company, the Rule 144 holding period for the Notes can be tacked to the holding period for the stock under Rule 144(d)(3)(ii) only if the exchange consists only “of other securities of the same Issuer.”

That means no additional consideration can be paid in the exchange other than the securities themselves and is consistent with Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act of 1933,

Accrued Interest is Not Considered Additional Consideration Under Rule 144

This brings up the question of whether or not accrued but unpaid interest on the Note is construed by the SEC as additional consideration inconsistent with Rule 144(d)(3)(ii).

The SEC’s position is that the right to receive payment for the accrued interest is not additional consideration, and the holding period for the Convertible Promissory Notes can be tacked to the holding period for all shares of stock received in the exchange.

Rule 144 Securities Lawyer Opinion Letters for Debt Conversions

Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. reviews Notes at no cost in preparation for issuing Rule 144 legal opinions for debt holders in OTC Markets and OTC Bulletin Board companies.  Debt holders can email documents to mstout@otclawyers.com or call Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 for a free consultation on Rule 144, or on the Section 4(a)(1) alternative to Rule 144 if the securities are at least 2 years old.

When Does the Rule 144 Holding Period Begin When Payment is Escrowed?

As many OTC investors know, Bulletin Board and Pink Sheet Issuers raising capital using a Private Placement Memorandum (“PPM”) sometimes choose to escrow all subscription payments until a minimum amount is raised.

When an OTC private placement offering is made on this type of “minimum/maximum basis”, shares are not issued to investors and proceeds are not delivered to the Issuer from an escrow account unless and until the target minimum amount is sold.

Rule 144(d) Applied to PPM Investors with Escrowed Funds

Under Rule 144(d), the holding period for shares acquired in an OTC Markets company using a “minimum/maximum” offering begins when the shareholder pays for the shares and payment is deposited in the escrow account.

When is the Shareholder Committed to Purchase PPM Shares?

The reason that the Rule 144 holding period begins before the release of the escrowed funds is because the shareholder is committed to participate in the offering if the minimum amount is sold, and that factor is not in the shareholder’s control once the payment is sent and accepted for deposit by the escrow agent.

When are the Shareholder’s Funds At Risk under Rule 144?

This is the moment when the shareholder’s funds are “at risk.”  In contrast, if the language of the subscription or escrow agreement somehow gave the shareholder the right to withdraw the funds upon request, then the funds would not be considered “at risk” and the Rule 144 holding period would not begin to run.

Rule 144 Opinion Attorney Offers No Cost Review of Documents

OTC securities lawyer Matt Stout reviews shareholder documents at no cost in preparation for issuing Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) legal opinions to clear restricted stock.

Questions about the Rule 144 holding period, Affiliate Status, and Shell Status are reviewed and if a legal opinion cannot be issued there is no cost to the shareholder.  Contact Matt Stout with Rule 144 questions at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

Rule 144 Holding Period for Shares Issued Per Anti-Dilution Rights

When does the Rule 144 holding period begin for shares received due to anti-dilution rights?

For purposes of Rule 144(d), additional shares of stock acquired from an Issuer pursuant to anti-dilution rights have the same holding period as the original shares governed by the anti-dilution provision.   Another way of saying this is that the new shares can tack onto the holding period of the old shares.

Shareholder Opinion Letters for OTC Markets and Bulletin Board Stocks

OTC securities attorney Matt Stout drafts Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) opinion letters for Shareholders of Pink Sheet and Bulletin Board companies trying to clear and sell restricted stock.

Questions regarding Rule 144 holding periods, shell status or Section 4-1 alternatives to Rule 144 can be emailed at mstout@otclawyers.com or (410) 429-7076.

Debt Conversions Under Rule 144(d) and Section 3(a)(9)

Securities exchanged for other securities of the same Issuer under Section 3(a)(9) will be attributed the “character” of the exchanged securities.  This concept is clear under Rule 144(d), which allows for tacking of the old security’s holding period when an Issuer’s convertible debt is exchanged for equity.

Debt Conversions into OTC Stock Under Rule 144(d)

This concept is seen whenever a Debt Holder in an OTC Markets or OTC Bulletin Board company converts a Promissory note into Common Stock.  In that instance, the old security (Promissory Note) is exchanged for the new security (Stock).

Tacking of Rule 144 Holding Period in Debt Conversions

A debt conversion is usually done by a Debt Holder when the Rule 144 holding period has already been met by the Note, so that the Debt Holder may then deposit and sell the newly converted Stock without any additional waiting.

Securities Attorney for Debt Holders in OTC Companies

Debt Holders in OTC Markets and Bulletin Board companies can contact securities lawyer Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers for Rule 144 legal opinions or Section 4(a)(1) opinions based on debt conversions.

 

Pink Sheets and the Current Public Information Requirement of Rule 144(c)(2)

One of the requirements of Rule 144 is that current information about the Issuer must be publicly available before the sale.

SEC Filers Must Have Audited Financials to Be Current

For SEC reporting companies, this means that the Issuer is current in its reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which includes audited financials on forms 10-K, and 10-Q.  Without “current information” an SEC filer will be marked “delinquent” and its Shareholders will not be permitted to use the abbreviated Six (6) Month Holding Period for removing restricted legends on their OTC stock.

Non-Reporting Issuers Do Not Need Audited Financials to Be Marked Pink Current

Non-reporting companies, and voluntary SEC filers, are not eligible for the Six (6) Month holding period even if they are “current” since they are not “subject to” the Exchange Act.

For non-reporting Pink Sheets, being current under the Alternative Reporting Standard means filing an up-to-date Information and Disclosure Statement and either the latest Quarterly Report or Annual Report on OTCMarkets.com.

Together, these OTC Markets filings contain information regarding the nature of the Issuer’s business, its officers and directors, and its financial statements, similar to what would be found in a Form 211 filed under 15c211.

Non-Reporting Pink Sheets are not required to have audited financials in order to meet the current reporting requirement under Rule 144(c)(2).

Securities Attorney for OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets Filers

Securities lawyer Matt Stout works with public companies that are delinquent in SEC and OTC Markets filings in order to help them become “current.”   In this context, he can review or draft SEC filings and issue OTC Markets Current Information Legal Opinions for those Issuers filing on OTCIQ.   Matt Stout, securities attorney can be reached at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

What are Convertible Securities?

Convertible securities include bonds and preferred stock.  For OTC Markets and Bulletin Board companies, the term usually means a debt secured by a Promissory Note, which can be converted into common stock.  These are known as Convertible Notes or simply Convertible Debt.

Convertible Debt in OTC Markets Companies

Most convertible promissory notes issued by OTC Markets public companies include provisions that allow the debt holder to decide if and when to convert a Note into common stock.  SEC Rule 144 usually allows a debt holder to trace their holding period to the date of the Note, rather than the date of conversion, which could be months or years after the Note was issued.

Why Do OTC Markets Companies Issue Convertible Debt?

OTC Markets companies issue Promissory Notes primarily to raise capital or to pay for services. It is a fact of life for services providers that OTC public companies often lack the cash to pay their vendors.

Why Do Debt Holders Convert Promissory Notes into Stock?

Statistically, experienced OTC lenders and service providers accepting Convertible Notes in lieu of cash know that microcap companies quoted on the over-the-counter markets will probably default on their obligation to pay.  Given that probability, drafters of Convertible Promissory Notes must take into consideration that the debt holder will later need to convert a defaulted Promissory Note into common stock after the Rule 144 holding period has been satisfied.

9.99% Blocker Clauses in Convertible Promissory Notes

Convertible Promissory Notes issued by OTC Markets  companies usually include “blockers” which are clauses preventing the debt holder from owning greater than 9.99% of the OTC company’s issued and outstanding shares of stock at any one time.  This blocker is intended to prevent the debt holder from being classified as an Affiliate, which would cause Rule 144 Affiliate volume trading limitations to be applicable under Rule 144.

Exceeding 9.99% ownership in an SEC reporting company also brings the obligation of filing SEC Forms 3, 4 and 5.

Institutional financiers that specialize in providing capital to OTC Markets Pink Sheets and Bulletin Board companies using convertible debt typically do not convert a Note again until they are “flat.”  Being “flat” means that the common stock in their brokerage account from the prior conversion has all been sold, such that it is easy to verify with the Company and Transfer Agent that the debt holder has complied with the 9.99% blocker.

4.99% Blocker Provisions in OTC Markets Convertible Debt

For SEC reporting companies filing under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, sometimes the blocker clause will specify a maximum of 4.99% if the debt holder also wants to avoid the additional obligation of filing a Schedule 13d or Schedule 13g.

When a debt holder converts a Note into 5% of the common stock in company subject to the reporting requirements under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the debt holder is required to file a Schedule 13D or 13G.

The rationale behind the 4.99% blocker is that the institutional financiers who provide capital to multiple OTC Markets and Bulletin Board companies tend to do many conversions.  Typically these lenders will only convert after the stock can be cleared using a Rule 144 legal opinion or Section 4(a)(1) opinion, and they will convert the debt in regular increments which are then immediately sold into the market, such that their accounts are flat before each subsequent conversion.

Such repeated and regular conversions in which stock is owned for perhaps only a few days at a time would cause an administrative burden to file multiple SEC forms each time the debt holder’s ownership in a particular OTC Issuer fluctuated above and below 5%.

Conversion Metrics and Formulas in OTC Convertible Debt

Convertible Promissory Notes issued by OTC Markets and Bulletin Board companies to raise capital or pay for services usually contain a conversion ratio based on fluctuating market prices.

Converting OTC Stock at a Discount to Market

That ratio or formula of a market price conversion is typically referred to as a “discount to market” which means that the debt holder will have the right to convert at a share price that is a particular percentage of the share price on the date of conversion or based on some average during a trailing conversion period.

Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) Legal Opinions for Debt Conversions

Management and Debt Holders of OTC Markets and OTC Bulletin Board companies can contact OTC Securities Lawyer Matt Stout for Rule 144 legal opinions and Section 4(a)(1) legal opinions at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

 

Defunct OTC Companies That Continue to Trade

What is a Defunct OTC Company?

Sometimes when a public company is no longer operating or in business, its stock can continue to trade on the OTC Markets even when its filings are delinquent. These OTC companies are shown as a Stop Sign on OTCMarkets.com, and they are often labeled as “Defunct” or “Dark.”

Why Does a Defunct Public Company’s Stock Continue Trading?

The common stock of Defunct public companies or Stop Signs can continue to trade as long as there are shares in its public float.  These shares may have been previously registered under an S-1 Registration Statement when the company’ s SEC filings were current, or they may have been deposited by long-time Shareholders using Rule 144 or Section 4(a)(1) as an exemption to registration.

When Does a Defunct OTC Company’s Stock Cease Trading?

The free trading stock in the OTC Company’s public float will continue to trade unless those shares are deregistered by the SEC, trading is suspended or halted, or the registration of the Defunct public company’s stock is revoked by the SEC.

When Does the SEC Halt or Suspend Trading in a Defunct Public Company?

Unless there is evidence of wrongdoing, the SEC generally does not like to prohibit trading of stock in a Defunct OTC public company because doing so would harm those Shareholders who are holding stock in Defunct Stop Signs and those willing buyers and sellers who want to trade the stock despite the risks involved.

SEC Will Suspend Trading if There is Manipulation or False and Misleading Information

The SEC will halt or suspend trading in the stock of a Defunct public company when either

  1. The Defunct OTC company’s stock price appears to be manipulated; or
  2. When the SEC believes that the OTC company’s public information posted in filings or press releases is false or misleading.

When a trading suspension occurs, OTCMarkets.com will label the stock with a Caveat Emptor or skull and cross bones symbol, indicating that there is a public interest concern and that investors should take special care.

When Does the SEC Deregister a Defunct Company’s Stock?

The SEC may also revoke the registration of a Defunct public company’s stock. Under Section 12(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the SEC is authorized to revoke the registration of a security if the public company fails to comply with the federal securities laws.

The deregistration of a public company’s stock will also result in the Caveat Emptor label and skull and crossbones at OTCMarkets.com, and then the Company’s trading symbol or ticker will not be searchable at all.  The SEC prohibits broker-dealers from executing trades in stocks when a Defunct public company’s registration is revoked pursuant to Section 12(j).

Securities Attorney for Shareholders of Defunct Public Companies

Shareholders owning stock in OTC Markets Stop Signs, which are delinquent in their filings or marked Defunct can contact OTC securities lawyer Matt Stout for a no cost review of their certificate and supporting documents to see if Rule 144 or Section 4(a)(1) can be used to clear restricted stock.

Securities Lawyer to Bring Defunct Companies Current

Management of delinquent SEC filers marked as Stop Signs or Caveat Emptor often work with Matt Stout to bring their companies current under the Exchange Act, or file Form 15 with the SEC in order to begin reporting as a current Pink Sheet on OTCMarkets.com.

OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets Securities lawyer Matt Stout can be reached at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

What are Unsolicited Quotations in OTC Stock?

Unsolicited Quotations are bid and ask quotes that market makers post to reflect unsolicited orders by their customers.

Do Brokers Accept Deposits of Stock With Only Unsolicited Quotations?

Yes. Many OTC brokers which specialize in over-the-counter penny stocks trading on the OTC Markets or OTC Bulletin Board will readily assist customers with deposits of stock even when the only quotations are unsolicited.  This is especially true if the OTC Issuer is an SEC reporting company and current in its filings.

Why Would a Stock Only Have Unsolicited Quotations?

Sometimes OTC companies are subject to FINRA or SEC trading suspensions for unexplained volume caused by spam.  At other times, many companies from the same industry are subject to increased scrutiny and several of them will have their trading suspended while FINRA or the SEC investigates allegations of wrongoing.

After a Caveat Emptor Label Many Companies May Lose Market Makers

Many of those companies are able to clear themselves of any wrongdoing, and remove the Caveat Emptor or Skull and Crossbones label, and they are subsequently cleared to trade again, but at first, no market makers remain willing to take the risk.

These OTC Issuers may once have had a robust trading volume with many well known market makers, but following a Caveat Emptor designation they might temporarily remain without a market maker to file a new Form 211 to comply with SEC Rule 15c2-11.  This could happen after a trading suspension, which lasts more than 10 days, for example.  At that point, only unsolicited quotations would be shown.

How are Unsolicited Quotations Published for Penny Stocks?

A customer will call his broker asking to buy or sell a particular OTC stock.  The broker then posts a quotation demonstrating the brokerage customer’s interest in the stock, which was not solicited by the brokerage. These quotations are marked as “unsolicited” quotations on OTCMarkets.com or on the OTC Bulletin Board.

OTC Markets Securities Lawyer for Shareholders and Issuers

Shareholders and Management of OTC Markets or OTC Bulletin Board companies can contact OTC Markets lawyer Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com with questions regarding trading suspensions, complying with SEC Rule 15c2-11, or clearing restricted stock.