Category Archives: SEC Compliance

Initial Public Offerings on the OTC Markets

What is an IPO on the OTC Markets?

The term “initial public offering” or IPO, refers to the first time a company sells stock to the general public.  To register an IPO, a microcap company seeking to become quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets files an S-1 Registration Statement.

SEC Comments and Amendments to an S-1

S-1 Registration Statements for IPOs are reviewed by the SEC to monitor compliance. When reviewing an S-1, the SEC staff concentrates on disclosures that may conflict with SEC rules or need further explanation to make them clear. The SEC then issues comments, which the company uses to revise and amend its S-1 Registration Statement.  The amendments are marked S-1/A.

When an S-1 Registration Statement is Declared Effective

After all SEC staff comments have been addressed by the Issuer, the SEC will issue an order declaring the S-1 Registration Statement Effective.  This is shown as EFFECT on SEC.gov, and means the Issuer may sell stock under the S-1 to any investor.

After an S-1 is declared Effective, all of the SEC’s comments and the Issuer’s replies are also made visible on SEC.gov under CORRESP, which is short for “correspondence.”

How do I invest in an OTC Markets IPO?

Microcap companies filing an S-1 Registration Statement to go public usually do not have underwriters.  Instead, the Issuer’s Officers and Directors communicate directly with investors and the stock is sold via Subscription Agreement after the S-1 is declared Effective. S-1 stock purchased soon after the Effective date is free trading, and can be deposited by the Investor into a brokerage account and sold “on the market.”

In order to invest in a microcap OTC Markets IPO, a prospective Investor will need to contact the Issuer or its securities attorney, using the information on the first page of an S-1 to indicate their interest in purchasing stock once the S-1 is declared Effective.

OTC Securities Lawyer Files S-1 Registration Statements for Microcap Companies

Private companies seeking to go public on the OTC Markets can contact securities lawyer Matt Stout for a free consultation at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.  All S-1 Registration Statements are prepared under an agreed-upon flat fee.   Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. can provide introductions to an entire team of S-1 professionals including PCAOB auditors, Transfer Agents, EDGAR filers, Market Makers and DTC Eligibility specialists.

 

Anatomy of an S-1 Registration Statement

All US companies seeking to go public on the OTC Markets may use SEC Form S-1 to conduct an initial public offering (“IPO”).  S-1 Registration Statements can be filed efficiently by an experienced OTC securities attorney and if the S-1 follows a standard procedure using best practices, this helps the SEC review and approve an S-1 in a timely fashion.

S-1 Registration Statements have Two Main Parts

  1. Part I is the Prospectus.  The Prospectus is the legal “selling” document. In the Prospectus, the Issuer of the securities must describe, in easy to understand plain English, important facts about its business operations , financial condition, results of operations, risk factors, and management. It must also include audited financials. The Prospectus must be delivered to everyone who buys securities, and everyone who is offered the securities.
  2. Part II contains additional information that the Issuer is not obligated to deliver to Investors but must still file with the SEC, such as copies of material contracts and agreements.

Specific Disclosures About the Company Required in an S-1 Prospectus

All successful S-1 Registration Statements must include specified disclosures about the Issuer in the Prospectus, including:

  1. A description of the Issuer’s business, properties, and competition;
  2. A description of the risks of investing in the Company;
  3. A discussion and analysis of the Issuer’s financial results and financial condition as seen through the eyes of management (Management Discussion & Analysis or “MD&A”);
  4. The identity of the Issuer’s Officers and Directors, including their compensation;
  5. A description of material transactions between the Issuer and its Officers, Directors, and Affiliates;
  6. A description of material legal proceedings (litigation) involving the Issuer and/or its Officers and Directors; and
  7. A description of the Issuer’s material contracts and agreements, if any.

Other Disclosure Requirements in an S-1 Registration Statement

The S-1 must also disclose certain information about the offering, including:

  1. A description of the securities being offered;
  2. The plan for distributing the securities, including whether or non an underwriter is involved or commissions will be paid; and
  3. The planned use of the proceeds of the securities offering.

Regulation S-K Provides Guidelines for Non-Financial S-1 Disclosure

Regulation S-K provides guidance to Issuer’s on both the form and content rules for non-financial portions of S-1 Registration Statements.

Regulation S-X Provides Guidelines for Financial S-1 Disclosure

S-1 Registration Statements also must include financial statements that comply with the form and content requirements of Regulation S-X. For US domiciled companies seeking to go public on the OTC Bulletin Board or OTCMarkets OTCQB, these financial statements must be prepared according to GAAP.

S-1 Audited Financials Must Be Signed Off by a PCAOB Auditor

All S-1 Registration Statements also must include financial statements audited by a PCAOB Auditor, which an independent certified public accountant registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

Securities Attorney for Going Public via S-1

Matheau J. W. Stout helps microcap companies go public on the OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets OTCQB via S-1 Registration Statement.  All legal work necessary is covered by an agreed upon flat fee.  We can introduce you to PCAOB auditors, Transfer Agents, EDGAR filers, and Market Makers as part of the S-1 process.  Contact securities lawyer Matt Stout for a free consultation at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

SEC Adopts Amendments to Implement JOBS Act and FAST Act Changes for Exchange Act Registration Requirements

The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved amendments to revise the thresholds for registration of securities, termination of registration, and suspension of reporting obligations under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

How Do the Amendments Affect SEC Reporting Companies?

For the majority of microcap OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets public companies, the practical effect of these amendments make it easier for delinquent SEC reporting companies which are facing de-registration to file SEC Form 15 in order to become Current Pink Sheets on OTCMarkets.com under the Alternative Reporting Standard.

What are the JOBS Act Amendments to Exchange Act Rules 12g?

The Commission approved final rules to implement the JOBS Act and FAST Act by:

  1. Amending Exchange Act Rules 12g-1 through 12g-4 and 12h-3, governing registration and termination of registration under Section 12(g), and suspension of Section 15(d) reporting obligations, to reflect new thresholds established by the JOBS Act and the FAST Act.
  2. Using the definition of “accredited investor” in Securities Act Rule 501(a) to determine which record holders are accredited investors for purposes of Exchange Act Section 12(g)(1).
  3. Allowing the Issuer to make the accredited investor determination as of the last day of its fiscal year.

New Thresholds for Assets and Number of Shareholders of Record

As a result of JOBS Act and FAST Act changes, an Issuer that is not a bank, bank holding company or savings and loan holding company is required to register a class of equity securities under the Exchange Act if

  1. it has more than $10 million of total assets; and
  2. the securities are “held of record” by either 2,000 persons; or
  3. 500 persons who are not accredited investors.

The vast majority of OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets SEC filers have far less than $10 Million in total assets and most never reach 2,000 shareholders.

Filing SEC Form 15 to Cease Exchange Act Reporting Obligations

For this reason, the key threshold change as a result of the JOBS Act is that SEC filers which are delinquent in their 10-K, 10-Q filings due to audit costs can more readily file the Form 15 to cease reporting under the Exchange Act.

By reviewing a Shareholder List as of the end of the Issuer’s last fiscal year, Management with close to 500 shareholders may be able to identify several which are clearly accredited, in order to meet the threshold of 500 non-accredited shareholders.

OTC Securities Lawyer for Delinquent SEC Filers Seeking to Become Pink Current

Matheau J.W. Stout, Esq. represents delinquent SEC filers in becoming current using the OTC Markets Alternative Reporting Standard and can be reach at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

As part of the Pink Current process, securities attorney Matt Stout can file SEC Form 15, prepare Information and Disclosure Statements for OTCMarkets, and issue the Current Information Legal Opinion.

 

Continuous S-1 Offering under Securities Act Rule 415

SEC Form S-1 does not provide for forward incorporation by reference of Exchange Act reports filed after the S-1 Registration Statement is declared Effective.

Post-Effective Amendment to Form S-1 for Material Changes

Because of this, when an S-1 is used for a continuous offering per Securities Act Rule 415, a Post-Effective Amendment is needed under Securities Act Section 10(a)(3) to reflect fundamental changes or to disclose material changes in the plan of distribution.  The Post-Effective Amendment is required pursuant to the Issuer’s Item 512(a) undertakings.

Changes via S-1 Prospectus Supplement

Changes which are not fundamental or material can be made to Prospectus contained in the S-1 Registration Statement by filing a Prospectus Supplement.

S-1 Lawyer Matt Stout Helps Microcap Companies Go Public

Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. represents entrepreneurs seeking to go public via S-1 Registration Statement.  Companies interested in becoming quoted on the OTB Bulletin Board or OTC Markets OTCQB can contact Matt Stout, securities lawyer, at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com for a free consultation.

Graphics Used in S-1 Registration Statements

Many companies filing IPOs to go public on the OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets using S-1 Registration Statements choose to include text or artwork inside the front and back cover pages of the prospectus.

Graphics are permitted in an S-1 Registration Statement, subject to certain best practices.

  1. Registrants should refer to Rule 304 of Regulation S-T to ensure that the graphics are in compliance;
  2. The graphic presentations must accurately represent their actual current business;
  3. Graphics must not depict products that do not exist or are not the Registrant’s actual products;
  4. Registrants cannot include testimonials or statistical data that are taken out of context; and
  5. Registrants should not identify specific customers that are not representative of the registrant’s overall customer base;
  6. Graphics should not use industry jargon or terms that are unfamiliar to the average investor;
  7. The graphic presentation should not include extensive narrative text that repeats information already contained in the Summary or Business Overview sections;
  8. Graphic presentations cannot be confusing or obscure other Prospectus disclosures, and
  9. No graphic presentation should give prominence to selected portions of the Registrant’s business or operations.

S-1 Attorney Offers No Cost Consultations to Discuss Going Public

Microcap companies and entrepreneurs seeking to go public on the OTCQB or OTCBB via S-1 Registration Statements can contact OTCMarkets securities attorney Matt Stout for a free consultation at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

How to Update the Prospectus for a Continuous Offering on Form S-1

If a microcap company files an S-1 Registration Statement for a continuous securities offering, how should its prospectus be updated to reflect new information in subsequent 10-Q and 10-K reports?

When SEC Form S-1 is used for a continuous offering, the prospectus may should be revised periodically to reflect new information because unlike Form S-3, the S-1 does not provide for incorporation by reference of subsequently filed periodic reports.

Post Effective Amendments to Form S-1

For example, in a continuous offering on a Form S-1 pursuant to Rule 415(a)(1)(ix), an OTCQB company wants to update the prospectus to include Exchange Act reports filed after the effective date of the Form S-1.

In that case, if the company files a post-effective amendment, it could incorporate by reference previously filed Exchange Act reports like the 10-K and 10-Q if it satisfied the conditions in Form S-1 allowing incorporation by reference.

Item 512(a)(1) of Regulation S-K also requires some changes, including a Section 10(a)(3) update, to be reflected in a post-effective amendment.

Rule 424(b) Prospectus Supplement

Other changes can be made in a prospectus supplement filed pursuant to the various categories under Rule 424(b) of the Securities Act of 1933.

S-1 Registration Statement Attorney Free Consultation

Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. answers questions regarding S-1 Registration Statements and going public via S-1 at mstout@otclawyers.com or (410) 429-7076.  There is no cost for an initial consultation to explain the mechanics of filing an IPO via S-1 in order to become a publicly traded company on the OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets.

 

What are the General Conditions for a Regulation S Offering?

What is Regulation S?

Under Regulation S, certain offers and sales of securities occurring outside of the United States are not subject to the registration requirements contained in Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).

Regulation S sets forth some non-exclusive safe harbors for extraterritorial offers, sales, and resales of securities under Rules 903 and 904 of the Securities Act.

General Conditions of Regulation S Offerings

In general, an offering may qualify for an exemption from registration under Regulation S if it meets the following two conditions:

  1. The offer or sale is made in an “offshore transaction”; and
  2. There are no “directed selling efforts” in the United States.

What is an Offshore Transaction under Regulation S?

An Offshore Transaction under Regulation S is defined as one in which:

  1. The offer is not made to a person in the United States; and either
  2. The Buyer is outside the United States, or
  3. The Seller and any person acting on the Seller’s behalf reasonably believe that the Buyer is outside the United States; or
  4. The transaction is executed in, on or through a physical trading floor of an established foreign securities exchange that is located outside the United States; and
  5. Neither the seller nor any person acting on its behalf knows that the transaction has been pre-arranged with a buyer in the United States.

What are Directed Selling Efforts under Regulation S?

Under Regulation S, Directed Selling Efforts refers to any activity related to “conditioning the market” in the United States for any of the securities being offered in reliance on Regulation S.

An example of Directed Selling Efforts could include placing an advertisement in a publication “with a general circulation in the United States” that refers to the offering of securities being made in reliance upon Regulation S.

Another example of Direct Selling Efforts could be the use of a website directed to US Persons, which does not include express disclaimers stating that that Reg S Offering is not intended for or available to US Persons.

Regulation S Securities Attorney Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq.

Securities lawyer Matt Stout is available to answer questions regarding compliance with Regulation S Offerings and the process of clearing and depositing restricted stock sold under Reg S at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets Issuers seeking advice on a Regulation S Private Placement directed to Non US Persons can contact Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. for a free consultation to discuss best practices for the PPM.

When Does the 90-Day Reporting Period Required by Rule 144(c)(1) Begin?

Companies that go public via S-1 Registration Statement can later file an 8-A12(g) or an 8-A12(b) in order to become “subject to” the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”).

Filing the SEC Form 8-A makes the company a “mandatory SEC filer” rather than a “voluntary filer” and allows shareholders to clear restricted stock under a Rule 144 holding period of six months rather than one year.

In order to qualify for the six month holding period under Rule 144, the public company must have been subject to the SEC reporting requirements for 90 days.  The question arises as to when the 90 Day Reporting Period begins.

The Effective Date of the S-1 Starts the 90 Day Reporting Period

When a company goes public via S-1 Registration Statement, and then files a registration statement pursuant to Exchange Act Section 12(g), the 90-day reporting period required by Rule 144(c)(1) begins on the Effective date of the S-1.

Contact Securities Attorney Matt Stout to Discuss Going Public via S-1

Microcap companies seeking to go public on the OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets OTCQB via S-1 Registration Statement or to become subject to the Exchange Act can contact S-1 Lawyer Matt Stout at no cost to discuss the process at mstout@otclawyers.com or (410) 429-7076.

 

Rule 144 Holding Period for Stock-for-Stock Acquisitions

Reverse Mergers of OTC Markets microcap companies are typically achieved using a stock-for-stock exchange under which the public company issues restricted stock in exchange for the private stock of the company being “vended in.”

Holding Period of Private Company Stock Does Not Tack under Rule 144

Shareholders in the private company may have already held their private stock for many years prior to the reverse merger.  Thus these private shareholders are often under the mistaken but intuitive impression that they can tack their ownership of the stock in the private company prior to the reverse merger in order to meet the holding period requirement under Under Rule 144.   However, this is not true.

Rule 144 Holding Period Starts Upon the Closing of the Share for Share Exchange

In a stock-for-stock acquisition or reverse merger achieved via a share exchange, the date of closing determines when the Rule 144 holding period starts.  Why?  Because the shareholders receiving OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets Pink Sheet public company shares are not at risk until the transaction actually closes and the public company’s shares are actually issued in exchange for the private company’s shares.

The Date of the Merger Agreement Does Start the Rule 144 Holding Period

For example, if the closing of the reverse merger will be delayed until the private company’s financials are audited, then the date of the Merger Agreement or the 8-K announcing the proposed Merger will not determine the start of the Rule 144 holding period.

When the closing is delayed for any reason, the Rule 144 holding period for those receiving the public company’s stock will not start until the reverse merger closes because the recipients will not be at economic risk until that time.

Rule 144 Securities Attorney Opinions by Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq.

Rule 144 has many nuances and experienced securities attorneys issue legal opinions only after a thorough review of all shareholder documents and Issuer filings.   Shareholders seeking Rule 144 or Section 4(a)(1) legal opinions can email documents to OTC securities lawyer Matt Stout at mstout@otclawyers.com or call (410) 429-7076 for a no cost review.

How are Free Trading Shares Issued Under 3(a)(10)?

Creditors of OTC Markets companies often contact securities lawyer Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. with questions about exchanging bona fide claims for free trading stock under 3(a)(10).   OTC Bulletin Board and Pink Sheet Issuers also have questions about how they can clear debt and payables from their balance sheets using 3(a)(10).

In many respects, 3(a)(10) is easy to understand, but there are certain rules that must be followed in order for the stock issued to be eligible for the 3(a)(10) exemption from registration.

What Makes 3(a)(10) Advantageous to Creditors?

3(a)(10) permits claims arising from legitimate and documented unpaid invoices or contracts to be exchanged for free trading stock, which helps creditors that did not receive a promissory notes from the Issuer.

3(a)(10) also provides a Court Order to a successful Plaintiff which is binding on the Issuer.  This makes future conversions of the Claim Amount easier, since the Issuer cannot later refuse to honor the Settlement Agreement reached in the 3(a)(10) case.

3(a)(10) transactions are by their nature a matter of public record, such that the entire claim settlement process and the issuance in accordance with the 3(a)(10) exemption from registration are done transparently.  This transparency has an inherent advantage to creditors holding 3(a)(10) claims under the Court Order, making it easier to obtain opinions, and clear stock later.

Why is 3(a)(10) Advantageous to Issuers?

An OTC company with debt and mounting accounts payable clogging its balance sheet is unlikely to attract new investors or lenders unless the balance sheet can be cleaned up.

3(a)(10) provides an opportunity for an Issuer to settle multiple claims within one lawsuit, often at a discount, limiting the expense and time associated with litigation, and providing the certainty of a Court Order which specifies the criteria under which shares will be issued.

The transparency of a 3(a)(10) lawsuit, settlement and Court Order also benefits the Company by providing certainty to its shareholders and would-be financial partners.  There is no guess work as to the Company’s liability to issue shares under a 3(a)(10) settlement, and no question as to the Court Order.

What is a Bona Fide 3(a)(10) Claim?

Bona fide means “genuine” or “real.”  The claim holder has the responsibility for documenting the bona fide nature of the monies owed, and copies of the unpaid invoices, contracts or other correspondence are attached to the Complaint in a 3(a)(10) lawsuit.

Documentation is easier when the debts or claims are in SEC filings or OTC Markets reports. Email correspondence evidencing services provided, monies owed and collection activities are also helpful in proving the bona fide nature of a 3(a)(10) claim.

Of course, promissory notes and wire transfer confirmations evidencing loans to an OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets Pink Sheet Issuer also can prove a debt is bona fide.

Requirements for the Section 3(a)(10) Exemption from Registration

Section 3(a)(10) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Act”) provides an exemption from the registration of securities under the following criteria:

  1. The securities must be issued in exchange for a bona fide claim; and
  2. The terms of the issuance and exchange must be found by a court to be “fair” to those receiving shares; and
  3. Notice of the Fairness Hearing must be provided to those to receive shares and they must be afforded the opportunity participate in a Fairness Hearing; and
  4. The issuer must advise the court prior to a Fairness Hearing that it intends to rely on the exemption provided in Section 3(a)(10) of the Act; and
  5. There cannot be any impediments to the appearance of interested parties at the Fairness Hearing.

What is Not Allowed in a 3(a)(10) Transaction?

Aside from the need to document the bona fide nature of the claims exchanged in a 3(a)(10) transaction, the main pitfall all creditors and Issuers need to be wary of is the temptation to secretly funnel money to the Issuer or its Affiliates.

In some cases, the SEC has found that claims were fabricated by insiders.  The claims were for services which were not provided, or were actually fake invoices from companies secretly controlled by Affiliates.  This is prohibited.

In other cases, plaintiffs in 3(a)(10) cases were secretly sending an Issuer’s Affiliates a percentage of monies made when the free trading stock was sold.  This is prohibited.

3(a)(10) should be used as a transparent exchange of bona fide claims for securities only.  The fact that an Issuer’s balance sheet will be cleared of old debt is in itself a clear benefit to the Issuer and this should result in future financing opportunities without the need for any surreptitious kickbacks.

Securities Lawyer With Expertise in 3(a)(10) Matters

Experienced securities attorneys like Matt Stout perform due diligence on aged debt, promissory notes and invoices to confirm their bona fide nature in preparation for 3(a)(10) transactions.

3(a)(10) securities lawyer Matt Stout represents both OTC Markets companies and their debt holders with bona fide claims in 3(a)(10) settlement agreements and drafts legal opinions for clearing restricted stock under 3(a)(10).