Category Archives: OTCQX

How Does a Foreign Private Issuer Go Public in the United States?

Foreign Issuers File F-1 Registration Statements to Go Public in the US

A Foreign Private Issuer (“FPI”) that wants to raise capital in the United States publicly for the first time must register its shares on SEC Form F‐1. An F-1 Registration Statement is similar to a Form S‐1 filed by US domestic Issuers in that it requires detailed disclosures about the FPI’s business operations and financials.

An experienced US securities attorney can help a Foreign Issuer draft an F-1 and respond to all SEC comments efficiently under a flat fee.  Once the F-1 is declared Effective by the SEC, a securities attorney can recommend a Market Maker to sponsor the Foreign Issuer for a FINRA ticker symbol so that its securities can be quoted on the OTCMarkets OTCQB or OTC Bulletin Board (“OTCBB”).

What Types of Securities Can a Foreign Company Register in the United States?

A Foreign Issuer may offer any type of securities that a US domestic Issuer is allowed to offer. In addition, an FPI may choose to offer its securities using American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”). Most Foreign Issuers will choose to register their Common Stock in an F-1 Registration Statement, just like a US domestic Issuer.

Securities Lawyer for Foreign Companies Going Public in the United States

Management of Non US domiciled companies seeking to become publicly traded in the United States can contact OTC securities lawyer Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. to discuss the time frame and costs involved with going public on the OTC Markets or OTC Bulletin Board via F-1 Registration Statement.

Qualified Foreign Issuers can later uplist to the OTCQX, NASDAQ or NYSE MKT when appropriate.  Matt Stout can be reached at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com for a free consultation.

Voluntary Filers and the Rule 144 Current Public Information Requirement

The “current public information” requirement under Rule 144(c)(1) is what allows Shareholders of mandatory SEC filers to use the shorter Six (6) Month holding period in order to clear restricted stock.  Only current mandatory SEC filers, which are subject to the reporting requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) are eligible for this Six (6) Month holding period under Rule 144.

Does the 6 Month Rule 144 Holding Period Apply to Voluntary Filers?

No. A “voluntary filer” is an SEC filer which continues to file SEC forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K after its S-1 Registration Statement is declared Effective by the SEC Staff, but which is not required to do so.  Voluntary Filers are not technically “subject to” the Exchange Act reporting requirements because an S-1 Registration Statement is filed under the Securities Act of 1933.

How Can a Voluntary SEC Filer Become a Mandatory Filer?

In order to become “subject to” the Exchange Act reporting requirements (and qualify for the Six (6) Month Rule 144 Holding Period), a voluntary filer must post an 8A-12G, 8A-12B or a Form 10.

What is the Rule 144 Holding Period for a Voluntary Filer?

Until doing so, the current public information requirement in Rule 144(c)(2) is applicable to voluntary filers, and along with it comes the One (1) Year Holding Period before restricted stock can be cleared for sale.

Rule 144 Lawyer for Legal Opinions to Clear Restricted Stock

OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets securities lawyer Matt Stout drafts Rule 144 legal opinion letters and Section 4(a)(1) opinions, and reviews documents at no cost.  Contact an experienced Rule 144 attorney at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com

What is a Penny Stock?

Penny Stocks are Quoted on the OTC Markets Pink Sheets

Penny Stocks are securities that are not listed on a national securities exchange like the NYSE or NASDAQ, and are also priced under Five Dollars ($5.00) Per Share.  The SEC’s definition of a Penny Stock is found in SEC Rule 3a51-1.  Penny Stocks are usually quoted on the over-the-counter (OTC) Markets on the Pink Sheets.  As a practical matter, most Penny Stocks trade well under a dollar, and many trade below a penny.

Penny Stocks Can Be Quoted on the OTCQB

OTCMarkets has three market tiers where OTC stocks are quoted.  These include Pink Sheets, OTCQB and OTCQX.  While stock price is a criteria for uplisting on the OTCMarkets.com to OTCQB, the minimum share price is One Penny ($0.01), well below the Five Dollars ($5.00) per share used by the SEC to define a penny stock. Since there is no minimum asset or revenue criteria for uplisting to the OTCQB, many OTCQB stocks are considered Penny Stocks.

OTCQX Companies Are Not Technically Penny Stocks

Stock price is not the only criteria for Penny Stocks. Although OTCQX, the highest market tier on OTCMarkets.com, has an initial minimum bid price criteria for US OTCQX companies of only Twenty-Five Cents ($0.25) and an ongoing minimum price of Ten Cents ($.10), OTCQX companies are not technically Penny Stocks because they meet at least One (1) of the exceptions to the Penny Stock Rule below.

Exceptions to the Penny Stock Rules

OTCQX securities are not Penny Stocks, because the criteria for quotation on the OTCQX requires these securities meet One (1) of these exclusions from the Penny Stock Rules:

  1. Net tangible assets  greater than Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000) if the company has been in operation at least Three (3) Years; or
  2. Net tangible assets of greater than Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000) if the company has been in operation less than Three (3) Years; or
  3. Revenue of at least Six Million Dollars ($6,000,000) for the last Three (3) Years.

Legal Opinion Letters for Shareholders with Restricted Penny Stocks

OTC Markets and Bulletin Board securities lawyer Matt Stout issues Rule 144 legal opinions and Section 4(a)(1) opinions for shareholders who own penny stocks and over-the-counter stocks, as well as OTC Markets Pink Sheets seeking to become current or to uplist on the OTCQB.

Contact OTCLawyers at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com today.

Pros and Cons of Going Public Via S-1

Benefits of Going Public via S-1 Registration

  1. Filing an S-1 Registration Statement may provide increased access to capital.
  2. The new public company may attract increased attention from institutional investors who invest only in S-1 registered stock.
  3. A secondary trading market may develop in the future in securities registered in the S-1.
  4. Filing an S-1 may create a future exit strategy for officers and directors if a public market develops for the public company’s securities.
  5. The public company may attract and retain talented personnel by offering stock, or options through a future S-8 plan.
  6. Once an S-1 is effective and a trading symbol is issued by FINRA, transparency is increased since employees and OTC Markets investors can view a public company’s filings and share price at any time.

Obligations for Companies Filing an S-1 Registration

  1. Companies going public via S-1 Registration Statement must keep SEC filings current so shareholders have sufficient public information describing the company’s management, business model, operations, and audited financials.
  2. New public companies filing an S-1 will incur ongoing administrative and compliance costs to retain a PCAOB auditor and experienced securities lawyer.
  3. Officers and Directors of companies that go public via S-1 Registration Statement may be liable if the Company does not meet its legal and compliance obligations.
  4. Public companies filing an S-1 registration must follow certain rules and provide disclosure when undertaking material corporate actions, including seeking shareholder approval.
  5. S-1 Registration Statements require time and money to do properly, and companies must allocate both in order to go public successfully via S-1.

Experienced S-1 Registration Statement Lawyer Matt Stout

Experienced securities lawyer Matt Stout takes companies public via S-1, and files S-1 Registration Statements for entrepreneurs seeking to go public on the OTC Markets and OTC Bulletin Board.   Entrepreneurs with questions on the going public via S-1 process can contact Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

What is Rule 144?

Rule 144 Safe Harbor for Clearing Restricted Stock

SEC Rule 144 is the most common safe harbor that Shareholders of restricted stock in OTC Markets companies use to sell their shares.

Rule 144 has three major questions that must be answered before it can be used to remove a restricted legend from a stock certificate.  These questions determine Affiliate Status, 144 Holding Period and Shell Status.

Is the Shareholder an Affiliate of the Issuer under Rule 144?

Under Rule 144, an Affiliate is a “control person” which is most often an officer, director, or owner of greater than 9.99% of the total issued and outstanding shares of any class of stock in the Issuer.

If a Shareholder is an Affiliate, or was an Affiliate within the past 90 days, then he or she is subject to trading volume limitations under Rule 144.

What are the Affiliate Trading Volume Limitations Under Rule 144?

Affiliate Shareholders of OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets OTCQB, OTCQX and Pink Sheets, can only sell up to 1% of the Issuer’s total issued and outstanding shares during any 3 month period, and such sales must be reported to the SEC on Form 144.

What is the Shareholder’s Holding Period under Rule 144?

Whether or not the Shareholder is an Affiliate, the restricted stock must be held for a certain period of time, known as the Rule 144 “holding period” after the Shareholder acquires the shares and before the Shareholder sells the stock.

What is the 144 Holding Period for SEC Reporting Companies?

For SEC reporting public companies, like those quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) and the OTC Markets OTCQB and OTCQX, and for those listed on the NASDAQ or NYSE MKT, the Rule 144 holding period is a minimum of six (6) months.

In order to qualify, the public company must be “subject to” the reporting requirements of Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  This is also known as a mandatory SEC filer.

Rule 144 Holding Period for Non Reporting Companies

For Non SEC Reporting Issuers, like those quoted on the OTC Markets Pink Sheets and filing OTC Markets Disclosure Statements, the Rule 144 holding period is twelve (12) months.

Voluntary SEC filers are also considered non reporting companies and have a Rule 144 holding period of twelve (12) months.

Voluntary filers are those which go public via S-1, but which have not yet filed an 8A-12g or 8A-12b or Form 10 under the 34 Act, so they are not yet technically “subject to” the reporting requirements of Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Was the Issuer Ever A “Shell Company” under Rule 144?

Current Shells Cannot Use Rule 144 to Clear Stock

Rule 144 does not allow Shareholders of public companies that are currently classified as a “shell company” to use its safe harbor to clear and sell restricted stock.

This is true even if the Shareholder is not an Affiliate, and if the Shareholder has held stock for longer than the required holding period under Rule 144.

Can Former Shells Use Rule 144?

Former shell companies that now have assets and an operating business must wait one (1) year after the Issuer ceases to be a shell before their shares may be sold using Rule 144, and then only if the public company is an SEC filer and subject to the filing requirements of the Exchange Act of 1934.

The moment a public company ceases to be a shell is sometimes clear because it is found in an SEC filing, like a “Super 8-K” for instance.  This could be the date upon which the company acquired an operating business or assets, in a reverse merger.

The Evergreen Rule:  Rule 144 Applied to Former Shell Companies

Former shells that are fully reporting OTCQB, OTCQX and OTC Bulletin Board companies must have filed current SEC reports like the 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K for a minimum of one (1) year from the date they ceased to be a shell, and they must be current in their filings now, before its Shareholders can avail themselves of the exemption from registration offered by Rule 144.

The term “Evergreen Rule” refers to the requirement that former shell companies must remain current in their filings (forever) in order for Rule 144 to be used.  If a former shell becomes delinquent in SEC filings, Rule 144 cannot be used until the Issuer is current.

Non Reporting Pink Sheet Former Shells Cannot Use Rule 144

Former shell companies that are OTC Markets Pink Sheets cannot used Rule 144 even if they are “Pink Current” now meaning that they are up to date on their OTC Markets Quarterly Reports, Annual Reports and their Information & Disclosure Statements.

Section 4(a)(1) Can Be Used to Clear Stock of Pink Sheet Former Shells

If the shares are greater than Two (2) Year old, OTC shareholders in Pink Sheets or delinquent SEC filers may be able to use Section 4(a)(1) (also known as Section 4(1) or simply 4-1) to clear and deposit their restricted stock.

Section 4(a)(1) can only be used if the shareholder is not an Issuer, Underwriter or Dealer, and if the shareholder can document the origin and history of the Shares as dating back greater than Two (2) Years.

OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) and OTC Markets Issuers seeking a securities attorney with expertise in Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) can contact Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com for further information.

When Must an SEC Filer Post an 8-K?

Public companies usually post several 8-Ks throughout the year.   An 8-K should be filed whenever a significant corporate event happens which triggers a disclosure. These are known as “material events” and are beyond what occurs in the ordinary course of business.

Material Events Trigger 8-K Filings

SEC Filers, such as OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets OTCQB and OTCQX, must file these 8-Ks promptly when material events occur.  They cannot wait until the next 10-Q or 10-K is due.

SEC Form 8-K Must Be Filed Within 4 Business Days

The time frame in which these SEC fully reporting companies are required to make most 8-K disclosures is within Four (4) Business Days of the triggering material event.  (In some cases the 8-K must be filed even earlier).

The SEC has posted a detailed and helpful explanation of disclosure items that need to be filed in an 8-K on SEC.gov.

OTC Markets Securities Attorney to Review and Draft 8-Ks

Matt Stout is a OTC Markets securities compliance attorney representing microcap public companies, including SEC filers quoted on the OTCQB and OTCQX and those on FINRA’s OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB).

Issuers with questions regarding SEC regulation and reporting, securities compliance, FINRA corporate actions and DTC eligibility can contact OTC Bulletin Board lawyer Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

S-1Registration Statements

We File S-1 Registration Statements

We represent OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets Pink Sheet public companies in the preparation and filing of S-1 Registration Statements with the SEC.

This includes private companies seeking to “go public” via S-1 and those established OTCBB, OTCQB and Pink Sheet companies that are registering a class of securities previously sold through a private placement.

PCAOB Auditors

We work closely with several PCAOB Auditors and can recommend an auditing firm to prepare financials to accompany the S-1 when needed.

If an Issuer already has an auditor, we can work with that firm to prepare the S-1 filing, and to coordinate the timing of the S-1 with the completion of the audit.

Market Makers

We work alongside several market makers that sponsor microcap companies which seek to “go public” through the filing of an SEC S-1 Registration Statement.

In these cases, in order to obtain a trading symbol, and become DTC eligible, the company will need a relationship with a broker-dealer acting as a “market maker” that will complete Form 211 on the company’s behalf.

If a company already has a market maker lined up, chances are good we have worked with the broker-dealer before, and that I can assist with due diligence and issue the legal opinion which accompanies the 15c2-11.

Business Plan

Sometimes companies seeking to file an S-1 worry too much about polishing their “business plan” and would do well to get the process of preparing their S-1 started before the business plan presentation is polished and SEC ready.

This is because PCAOB audits take time, and these S-1 audits should be addressed first.   Until the auditor has been provided with all of the financials needed to complete the SEC audit, the clock has not started ticking on the S-1.

The business plan can be polished while the auditor is at work and when needed we can refer management to specialists who edit business plans for S-1 filings.

We help Coordinate the S-1 Process

We help coordinate the S-1 process by serving as a liaison between the company, its auditors and the market maker, and in the meantime, I can assist with the review of the company’s business plan.

As a practical matter, because the format of an S-1 Registration Statement demands answers to specific questions, the very process of beginning the S-1 will help management complete the business plan.

Matt Stout, OTC securities lawyer, welcomes inquires from both current and future OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets Pink Sheet companies with questions on the S-1 process at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

What is an SEC Comment Letter?

The term SEC Comment Letter generally refers to correspondence from the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) staff to public companies which are SEC filers.  An SEC Comment Letter is sent by the SEC to an Issuer when an Issuer’s SEC filing needs further clarification.

SEC Comments on an S-1 Registration Statement

One example of an SEC Comment Letter is in response to an Issuer’s filing of an S-1 Registration Statement.  An S-1 Comment Letter is sent by SEC staff who review the disclosures set forth in an S-1 when there are questions that need to be answered or typos which need to be corrected.  There may be a series of SEC Comment Letters and Issuer response letters that go back and forth until the S-1 is finalized and declared effective by the SEC staff.

SEC Comment Letters on 10-K, 10-Q, Reg A, and 8-K Filings

The SEC can also issue an SEC Comment Letter in response to disclosures made in a public company’s 10-K, 10-Q, Regulation A, or 8-K, or in any other SEC filing, such as a Form 10.

SEC Comment Letters are Searchable in EDGAR

SEC comment Letters and the responses by Issuers or their securities lawyers are contained in the SEC’s EDGAR database as “correspondence.” The SEC made this correspondence public record in 2005 for filings made after August 1, 2004 which were reviewed by the SEC staff.

SEC Comment Letters Can Address Questions of Disclosure

SEC Comment Letters usually ask for additional information so the SEC staff can understand the Issuer’s disclosure.  Sometimes the SEC requests that an Issuer revise disclosures in a document already filed with the SEC if the facts and circumstances warrant such a change.  In other cases, the SEC will allow prior filings to remain, but request that the Issuer provide additional or different disclosures in future SEC filings.

Are SEC Comment Letters Legally Binding?

There are often several rounds of letters between the SEC and an Issuer’s securities attorney  until the SEC is satisfied with the information provided and changes made. SEC Comment Letters provide SEC staff positions on the issues discussed but are not an official or legally binding statement of the SEC’s views on the particular issues. SEC Comment Letters are expressly limited to the specific facts and circumstances of the named filing in question and do not automatically apply to other filings or to other SEC filers.

Experienced Securities Lawyers Can Respond to SEC Comment Letters

OTC public companies that received an SEC Comment Letter in response to an S-1 Registration Statement or to any other disclosure in an SEC Filing can contact securities attorney Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

What is Schedule 13D?

Schedule 13D is known as a Beneficial Ownership Report

The term “beneficial owner” is defined under SEC rules, and is basically any person who directly or indirectly shares voting power or the power to sell the security.  For example, this would include individuals who are the majority member of an LLC and the Trustee of a Trust.

Schedule 13D Must Be Filed By Shareholders of Greater Than 5%

When a person or group becomes the beneficial owner of greater than Five Percent (5%) of a voting class of an Issuer’s equity securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the beneficial owner is required to file a Schedule 13D with the SEC.

Under certain circumstances the shorter Schedule 13G may be used.  Shareholders owning more than 5% in non reporting companies such as voluntary filers and Pink Sheets are not required to file a Schedule 13D or Schedule 13G.

Who Has the Obligation to File a Schedule 13D?

It is important to note that the beneficial owner has the obligation to file a Schedule 13D, not the public company, since the nature of “beneficial ownership” might prevent the Issuer from knowing which individuals are behind all of its corporate entity shareholders, such as LLCs or Trusts.

Schedule 13D filings for most publicly traded companies are searchable in the SEC’s EDGAR database system.

Matt Stout, OTC securities attorney, works with shareholders to issue Rule 144 legal opinions and to assist with SEC filings, such as Schedule 13D and SEC Forms 3, 4, and 5.

Which Forms Do Corporate Insiders File with the SEC?

Insiders of Reporting Companies File SEC Forms 3, 4, 5

Since June 30, 2003, the SEC has required insiders to submit forms electronically through the SEC’s EDGAR system.  The SEC now also requires reporting companies with websites to post Forms 3, 4 and 5 by the end of the next business day after the forms are filed with the SEC.

Who Is a Corporate Insider?

Affiliates are also termed “corporate insiders.”  For the purposes of SEC Forms 3, 4 and 5, a corporate insider includes any officer or director, and any shareholder who beneficially owns greater than 9.99% percent of any class of the Company’s equity securities which are registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).

(Affiliates or insiders of Pink Sheets or non-reporting companies are not required to file SEC Forms 3, 4 and 5.  The requirements only extend to the insiders of  “mandatory SEC filers” which are subject to the reporting requirements of Section 12 of the Exchange Act.)

SEC Form 3 Reports Initial Beneficial Ownership by Insiders

An insider of an SEC reporting company that is registering equity securities for the first time under Section 12 of the Exchange Act must file this Form on or before the effective date of the registration statement.

If the public company is already registered under Section 12, Form 3 must be filed within Ten (10) days of becoming an officer, director, or beneficial owner of Ten (10%) Percent.

SEC Form 4 Reports Changes in Beneficial Ownership by Insiders

SEC Form 4 is used by insiders to report changes in ownership.  Form 4 must be reported to the SEC within Two (2) business days. Some limited categories of transactions not subject to the Two (2) business day reporting requirement.

SEC Form 5 Reports Changes Not Timely Filed on Form 4

SEC Form 5 is used by insiders to report any transactions that either a) should have been reported earlier on a Form 4 or b) were eligible for deferred reporting.  When Form 5 must be filed, an insider has Forty-Five (45) days after the end of the company’s fiscal year to file.