Category Archives: Rule 144 Attorney

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.

 

Rule 144(c) Current Public Information Requirement

Shareholders familiar with Rule 144 know that for the Rule 144 Six (6) Month holding period to be used, the public company’s mandatory SEC filings under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 must be current.  When an SEC filer’s Exchange Act reports become delinquent, the One (1) Year holding period under Rule 144 applies (if the company was never a “shell”).

Affiliate Sales of Restricted Stock Using Rule 144

Is this true for Affiliates, who have filed a Form 144 with the intention of selling up to 1% of the public company’s issued and outstanding shares of common stock during a 90 day period?

Yes, the Rule 144 “current public information” requirement must be met in order for the Affiliate to sell shares under the Rule 144 safe harbor.  The public company’s filings must remain current in order to meet his requirement at the time each sale is made.

Rule 144 Attorney Drafts Affiliate Legal Opinions

Affiliates of OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets companies can contact Rule 144 lawyer Matt Stout for assistance with completing Form 144 and selling restricted stock at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

 

 

Securities Received Pursuant to Section 1145(a) of the Bankruptcy Code

When OTC Markets and OTC Bulletin Board public companies file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, shares are often awarded to creditors as part of the company’s reorganization, and in order to facilitate the settlement of claims against the company.

Are the shares received pursuant to Section 1145(a) of the Bankruptcy Code considered the same as Rule 144 restricted stock?

No. Securities received pursuant to a Bankruptcy Code proceeding under Section 1145(a) of the Bankruptcy Code are technically received in a “public offering” under Section 1145(c) of the Code.  For this reason, the shares, which are awarded by Court Order, are considered free trading, as if they were registered.

This is essentially the same rationale which allows shares received in a 3(a)(10) settlement under Court Order to be free trading, and eligible for sale with a securities lawyer’s opinion letter.

Securities Attorney Drafting Legal Opinion Letters for Stock

Shareholders receiving stock under Section 1145(a) of the Bankruptcy Code or creditors settling claims under Section 3(a)(10) can contact securities lawyer Matt Stout for the legal opinion necessary to deposit and sell their shares at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

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

Rule 144 Holding Period for Voluntary SEC Filers

What is a Voluntary SEC Filer?

A “voluntary filer” in a public company which continues filing SEC reports like the 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K, after its S-1 Registration Statement becomes effective, without technically being required to do so.

For the purposes of calculating a Rule 144 holding period, Voluntary SEC filers are not considered “subject to” the filing requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) because they are not obligated to file Exchange Act reports under either of those sections.

Does Having an Effective S-1 Affect the Rule 144 Holding Period?

Having an S-1 Registration Statement, which is filed under the Securities Act of 1933, rather than under the Exchange Act, does not make a filer “mandatory.”  An SEC filer goes from “voluntary” to “mandatory” by filing certain Exchange Act forms, like the 8A-12g or the Form 10 Registration Statement.   These Exchange Act forms obligate the public company to file the 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K, by making the company “subject to” the filing requirements of Exchange Act Section 13 or 15(d).

Mandatory SEC Filers Have a Six Month Holding Period Under Rule 144

The Six (6) Month holding period requirement in Rule 144(d)(1)(i) applies only to the restricted securities of a public company that is, and has been for at least 90 days immediately prior to the sale, “subject to” the reporting requirements of Exchange Act Section 13 or 15(d).

Voluntary Filers Have a One Year Holding Period Under Rule 144

Because of this distinction, the One (1) Year holding period requirement in Rule 144(d)(1)(ii) applies to the restricted securities of voluntary filers.

Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) Opinion Letter Attorney Matt Stout

Shareholders in OTCQB and OTC Bulletin Board companies can contact Rule 144 and S-1 lawyer Matt Stout with questions on clearing and depositing restricted stock at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com for a no cost review.

What is the Rule 144 Holding Period for Securities Exchanged under Securities Act Section 3(a)(9)?

When a Shareholder receives new securities in exchange for old securities of the same Issuer under Section 3(a)(9), the new securities received in the exchange assume the same character as the exchanged securities.

Tacking of the Holding Period is Allowed Under Section 3(a)(9) Securities Exchanges

This means that when restricted securities are exchanged, the new securities received under Section (a)(9) are also restricted, but the SEC allows tacking onto the holding period of the former securities.

Rule 144 Legal Opinion Letters by Experienced Securities Counsel

Shareholders receiving shares in 3(a)(9) exchanges can contact OTC Markets and OTC Bulletin Board securities lawyer Matt Stout for a no cost review of their exchange documents, and for the issuance of Rule 144 or Section 4(a)(1) legal opinions at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

What is the Rule 144 Holding Period for a Warrant Exercise?

Rule 144 Holding Period for Cashless Warrant Exercise

If the exercise of a warrant is “cashless” then a Shareholder is allowed to tack the holding period of the warrant onto the common stock under Rule 144(d)(3)(x).  This means that as long as there is no consideration whatsoever paid in order to exercise the warrant, the holding period of the common stock will tack back to the date of the warrant itself.

Rule 144 Holding Period for Warrant Exercises Upon Payment of Cash

In contrast, if the warrant exercise is not “cashless”, then the holding period will begin on the date of the warrant exercise.

De Minimus Payments to Exercise Warrants Under Rule 144

This is true even if the payment to exercise the warrant is “de minimis.”  That is, even if the amount paid to exercise the warrant is a very tiny amount of cash, the Shareholder will be prevented from tacking the holding period of the warrant to that of the common stock under Rule 144(d)(3)(x).

No Cost Review of Documents by Rule 144 Legal Opinion Lawyer Matt Stout

Shareholders in need of Rule 144 or Section 4(a)(1) legal opinions can contact OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets securities attorney Matt Stout for a no cost review of documents at (410) 429-7076 or via email at mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

 

Rule 144 Holding Period and Employee Stock Options

When does the Rule 144 holding period begin for restricted stock acquired under an Employee Stock Option plan?

The Option Grant Date Does Not Start the Rule 144 Holding Period

The Rule 144 holding period does not begin on the option grant date.  The grant of an option only gives an employee the right to acquire stock in the future.  The date of the employee’s stock option grant can never be used for Rule 144 holding period purposes, even if the exercise does not require the payment of cash or other consideration to the Issuer.

The Option Exercise Date Starts the Rule 144 Holding Period

The holding period under SEC Rule 144 starts on the date the option is exercised by the employee, and, unless the exercise is “cashless”, the full payment of the exercise price is made to the Issuer.  This is intuitive, since prior to exercising the option, the employee is not at risk, and the stock has not been in any way “earned” or “paid for.”

What is the Rationale Behind the Rule 144 Holding Period for Stock Options?

The SEC Rule 144 holding period does not begin to run until until the option is exercised.   The reason behind this is that because the employee did not pay for the option grant, prior to the issuance of the restricted stock, the employee “optionee” holds no investment risk in the Issuer.

The same rationale used here is consistent with that used when restricted stock is purchased through Subscription Agreement, since the Rule 144 holding period would not begin until the date of the check or wire transfer confirmation–when the subscription was actually paid for by the investor.

Rule 144 Securities Lawyer Matt Stout

OTC securities lawyer Matt Stout drafts Rule 144 and Section 4(a)(1) legal opinions for shareholders in OTC Markets and OTC Bulletin Board companies.   Copies of certificates and supporting documentation can be sent for a no cost review via mstout@otclawyers.com.   Shareholders who wish to clear restricted stock using Rule 144 opinion letters can contact Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076.

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.