No. There is no minimum shareholder requirement to file an S-1. Many startup companies with just one founding shareholder file S-1 Registration Statements as the first step to go public. So only one shareholder is required, along with audited financial statements, in order to file the S-1.
When are the 35 Shareholders Needed to Go Public?
The 35 shareholder requirement only applies at the time of the Company’s 15(c)211 application for a FINRA trading symbol, which a Market Maker does not sponsor until all SEC comments are cleared, and after the S-1 is declared Effective by the SEC.
Should a Company Acquire 35 Shareholders via Private Placement or After the S-1 is Effective?
While it is true that many companies acquire these 35 shareholders via Private Placement Memorandum (“PPM”) before the S-1 is filed, it is just as common for companies to sell free trading S-1 shares to friends, family and to the public as soon as the S-1 is declared Effective, in order to meet FINRA’s 35 shareholder threshold.
In many cases, it might be easier for the company to sell the S-1 shares after the Effective Date, since they are free trading and the investors may perceive less of a risk than buying restricted shares in the same company through a Pre-S-1 PPM.
The key is that those 35 shareholders are not required until sometimes months after the S-1 process is started, since the Market Maker cannot even sponsor the Form 15(c)211 application for the FINRA trading symbol until the S-1 is declared Effective.
Should We Delay our S-1 to Do a Larger Private Placement?
With that timing in mind, it makes little sense for private companies to wait forever to file their S-1 under the guise of attempting to sell more shares in a PPM. Instead, some savvy companies considering an IPO via S-1 Registration Statement will use a Private Placement only to attract some already interested friends and family investors as shareholders so that they do not delay their S-1 audit.
Doing so allows those PPM friends and family shareholders to be listed in the S-1 as “Selling Shareholders” but also allows the S-1 audit to be completed without wasting a lot of time. Since the audit is typically the most time-consuming part of the S-1, the sooner the PCAOB audited financials are ready, the sooner the company can go public.
OTC Markets Securities Lawyer for Companies Going Public
Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. is securities lawyer with a practice focused on taking microcap companies public on the OTB Bulletin Board and OTC Markets OTCQB. Entrepreneurs with questions about taking a company public via S-1 can contact Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-cost consultation.