Tag Archives: Matheau J. W. Stout

The JOBS Act and Foreign Private Issuers Going Public in the United States

The JOBS Act reduces many of the regulatory burdens on smaller companies that are filing an initial public offering (“IPO”) in the United States in order to go public on the OTC Bulletin Board or OTCMarkets. For a Foreign Private Issuer (“FPI”) that qualifies as an Emerging Growth Company, the JOBS Act allows for a streamlined IPO “on‐ramp” process that either avoids or defers some of the more costly SEC disclosure requirements.

The JOBS Act allows a Foreign Issuer that is also an Emerging Growth Company the option in certain cases to do the following when filing an F-1 Registration Statement:

  1. Confidential Submissions: An Emerging Growth Company is allowed in certain cases to submit a draft F-1 Registration Statement or a draft Form 20‐F to the SEC for confidential, nonpublic review prior to the public filing.
  2. Testing‐the‐Waters: An Emerging Growth Company is allowed to continue oral or written communications with qualified institutional buyers, (“QIBs”), and institutional accredited investors in order to gauge their interest in a proposed IPO, both before and after filing an F-1 Registration Statement.
  3. Research Report: A broker‐dealer can publish and distribute a research report about an Emerging Growth Company  without the research report being deemed an “offer” under the Securities Act whether or not the broker‐dealer is participating in the IPO.
  4. Audited Financials: An Emerging Growth Compay is required to present only Two (2) Years of audited financial statements with its F-1 Registration Statement.
  5. Auditor Attestation Report on Internal Controls: An Emerging Growth Company is exempt from the requirement to obtain an auditor attestation report on internal controls over financial reporting.

Securities Attorney for Foreign Companies Going Public in the United States

US securities attorney Matt Stout represents foreign companies going public in the United States via F-1 Registration Statement.  All securities legal representation is performed under an agreed upon flat fee, payable in stages, and defined under a written scope of work in an F-1 Engagement Agreement.

OTC Markets securities lawyer Matt Stout can introduce FPI’s to all other service providers needed in order to go public, including PCAOB Auditors, Transfer agents, EDGAR filers and Market Makers.

Management of Foreign Private Issuers considering an IPO in the US OTC Markets can contact Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. for a no cost consultation at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

 

What is a Resale S-1 Registration Statement?

In a Resale S-1 Registration Statement, securities previously acquired privately are registered for resale to the general public.

Who are the Selling Shareholders in a Resale S-1?

In a typical example, investors in a company’s Private Placement (“PPM”) are told that their shares will be “registered for resale” at a later date.  In a Resale S-1, these investors are referred to as “Selling Shareholders”, and their names are listed in a table, along with the number of shares, and an explanatory note detailing the method and date of purchase.  The PPM Offering Documents, including a Subscription Agreement, are usually included in the Resale S-1 as Exhibits.

In another example, shares previously awarded to consultants, founders or employees for services can also be registered for sale in a Resale S-1.  The supporting documentation showing the origin and history of those shares would likewise be included as Exhibits.

All of this Selling Shareholder documentation is reviewed by the company’s PCAOB auditor so that the cost basis, and value of consideration is included in the audit.

What Makes a Resale S-1 Different?

The main difference in a Resale S-1 is when the Selling Shareholders sell their shares, they keep all of the money from the sale,  and the company does not receive any funds.   Even so, the company typically pays for the cost of the Resale S-1 Registration Statement, including the audit.

How Does a Company Benefit from a Resale S-1?

One way a company benefits from a Resale S-1 is by demonstrating to future PPM investors that the company keeps its promise to later register shares.   It also benefits the company by creating a “Float.”  The Float is the block of non-affiliate, free trading shares available to trade “on the market.”

In order to justify the expense of preparing a Resale S-1, a company will typically also register a certain number of new S-1 shares itself.  When the company sells these newly registered S-1 shares to the public, the company keeps those funds.

Private Placement followed by IPO and Resale S-1 Combination

One of the most common strategies for going public on the OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets via S-1 Initial Public Offering (“IPO”) is to file a new S-1 Registration Statement following a Private Placement Offering.  This S-1 registers both new shares for the company to sell, and also includes Selling Shareholders who bought stock in the Private Placement (“PPM”).

Many companies use the strategy of filing a quick PPM for friends and family before filing an S-1 Registration Statement as way of obtaining some of the 35 non-affiliate shareholders Market Makers are looking for prior to sponsoring the company for a ticker symbol under 15c211.  This also helps to defray some of the administrative costs associated with going public.

In order for this strategy to be effective, the PPM documents and consideration needs to be in order so that the company’s PCAOB auditor can efficiently include the Selling Shareholders into the S-1 audit.  An experienced OTC securities attorney can help companies do both a PPM and a Resale S-1 from start to finish.

Securities Attorney for Private Placements and S-1 Resale Registrations

Matt Stout is a securities attorney focused on taking companies public on the OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets.   When companies engage Matt Stout as securities counsel, the PPM to S-1 process is handled efficiently and all representation is under an agreed-upon flat fee, which includes responding to all SEC Comment Letters.

Companies interested in learning more about Private Placement Offerings and S-1 Registration Statements can contact Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. for a no cost consultation at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

S-1 Registration under the Securities Act of 1933

An S-1 Registration Statement is the most common way for a microcap company to “go public.” The S-1 is filed under the Securities Act of 1933, which has two primary goals:

  1. To require that companies provide the public with financial and other significant information concerning securities offered for sale; and
  2. To prohibit “deceit, misrepresentations, and other fraud” in the sale of securities to the public.

The SEC accomplishes these goals by requiring companies to disclose important financial information through the registration of securities following a specific format, such as the S-1.

S-1 Registration Statements for Companies Going Public

More microcap companies have success “going public” on the OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets by filing an S-1 Registration Statement than by any other method.

The SEC reviews S-1 Registration Statements to make sure they provide transparent disclosure of important facts and audited financials so that the public is informed of all risks involved in investing in an S-1.

The process of preparing, filing and amending an S-1 based on SEC comments is well known by experienced microcap securities lawyers, like Matt Stout.

What Information Does an S-1 Registration Statement Include?

A properly documented S-1 Registration Statement will provide the SEC with all of the necessary facts, including:

  1. A description of the company’s assets, operations and business model;
  2. A description of the security, such as common stock, to be offered for sale;
  3. Information about management, including the officers and directors of the company; and
  4. Financial statements certified by a PCAOB auditor.

It is important to note that the SEC does not have minimum asset or operations requirements for a company to go public via S-1.   Even start up companies with no revenue and few assets are eligible to file an S-1 Registration Statement.  The only requirement is that the company’s audited financials and disclosures accurately reflect the truth.

SEC Comments and Amendments to an S-1 Registration Statement

An S-1 Registration Statement, including its disclosures, audited financials, and prospectus, becomes visible to the public on SEC.gov as soon as it is posted via the SEC’s EDGAR filing system.

The SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance reviews the S-1 within 30 days of filing and provides SEC Comments, which are requests for clarification and further information.   The company then revises its S-1 Registration Statement to answer the SEC’s questions by filing an S-1/A amendment on SEC.gov.   The SEC Comments, along with a company’s responses, are also made available to the public on SEC.gov after an S-1 is declared Effective.

The SEC Comment and S-1 Amendment process continues for as many rounds as necessary until the SEC is satisfied that the company’s disclosures and financials are clear and understandable to the public.  Once the SEC has approved the last S-1/A, the company files a Request for Acceleration and their S-1 is made Effective.

After the S-1 is Effective, the company’s securities lawyer works with a Market Maker who sponsors the company under 15c211 to obtain its FINRA trading symbol or “ticker.”

S-1 Lawyer Helps Microcap Companies Go Public on the OTC Markets

S1 attorney Matt Stout drafts and amends S-1 Registration Statements for microcap companies and start up entrepreneurs seeking to go public on the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) or OTC Markets (OTCQB).  The S-1 process is handled under an agreed upon flat legal fee, that includes responding to all SEC comments and as many S-1/A amendments as are necessary for the S-1 to be declared Effective.

As part of the S-1 process, companies are introduced to all other service providers needed, including a PCAOB auditor, Transfer Agent, EDGAR filer, and Market Maker who sponsors the company for its FINRA trading symbol after the S-1 is declared Effective.

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about going public via S-1 Registration Statement can contact OTC securities attorney Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com for a free consultation.

 

 

 

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.

What is a Reverse Merger?

A Private Company’s Assets or Operations are Vended Into a Public Vehicle

In a reverse merger (or reverse takeover) the controlling shareholders of a public vehicle acquire the business operations or assets of a private company.  Once the reverse takeover (“RTO”) transaction is complete, the private company is either “vended in” as a subsidiary of the Issuer, in which case all of its financials become reported under the umbrella of the public company, or the assets are purchased.

This is usually accomplished via a Share Exchange Agreement in which the shareholders of the private company receive a majority stake or “controlling interest” in the public company.

New Officers and Directors are Appointed from the Private Company in an RTO

With that change in control, new officers and directors are usually appointed from the management of the private company.  The change in control is the reason why reverse mergers are sometimes referred to as a reverse takeover or RTO.

Interestingly, Issuers seeking private company candidates for reverse merger are often called “public shells” even if they have enough assets and operations to avoid classification as a “shell company” under Rule 144.

Super 8-K Type Disclosures Must Be Provided to Investors After a Reverse Merger

Once the reverse merger is complete, the Issuer provides disclosures regarding the private company’s assets and operations using a “Super 8-K” if an SEC reporting company, or an Information and Disclosure Statement if an OTC Markets Pink Sheet using the Alternative Reporting Standard.

The Private Company Now “Trades” on the Public Market

After this disclosure process, the private company’s management is  in control of the public vehicle (which may be a former shell) and its stock is now quoted and trades under the same ticker or trading symbol.  At this point, it often makes sense for the new management to change the name of the company, and its symbol, in order to emphasize the new business operations to investors.

Famous Companies That Went Public Via Reverse Merger or RTO

Some household names which are reported to have gone public via reverse merger or reverse takeover include Berkshire Hathaway, Blockbuster, Waste Management, Jamba Juice, Turner Broadcasting (which later became CNN), Occidental Petroleum,and Texas Instruments.

Entrepreneurs seeking a public shell for a reverse takeover or Issuers looking for private companies to “vend in” can contact securities lawyer Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

Do OTC Markets Issuers Need Audited Financials?

Public companies quoted on the OTC Markets OTCQX and OTCQB marketplaces require financials audited by a PCAOB auditor.  Those securities quoted on the OTC Markets Pink Sheet market tier do not required audits, though many Pink Sheets do have audited financials.

Audited Financials Not Required for Non Sec Reporting Companies

FINRA does not require the financial statements of Pink Sheets, which are not SEC reporting companies, to be audited for the Form 211 in the 15c2-11 process. Non SEC reporting companies are those that do not publish their financials and disclosures using the 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K using the SEC’s EDGAR filing system.

Unaudited Financials of US Issuers Must Be Prepared in Accordance with GAAP

However, OTC Markets Pink Sheet Issuers that are US companies should have financials that are prepared in accordance with GAAP. Foreign Issuers, meaning those Issuers that are incorporated offshore as opposed to US corporations that have business headquarters or operations outside of the US, are allowed to post financials that do not follow GAAP if they are prepared in accordance with their home country’s accepted accounting standards.

PInk Current Issuers Without Audits Require an Attorney Letter

Whether a US or foreign Issuer, a public company that wants to maintain Pink Current status on OTCMarkets.com will require an Attorney Letter  with Respect to Current Information at least annually, if they do not file reports with the SEC and do not publish audited financials. Companies that want to maintain Pink Limited Information (Pink Yield Sign) are not required to have audited financials.

Issuers with questions regarding PCAOB audits or questions about filing Form 15 with the SEC to transfer to the OTC Markets Alternative Reporting Standard (thus avoiding audits) can contact Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

What is Regulation S?

Reg S Covers Offers and Sales of Securities to Non US Persons

A brief summary of Regulation S is that it provides safe harbors, and a possible exemption from SEC registration for sales of securities to Non US Persons. For the purposes of Reg S, a US Person would basically be a United States citizen, a US resident, or a corporation, LLC or Trust domiciled in one of the 50 US states.

The most important element of Regulation S is when securities are considered to have “come to rest abroad” so that their resale would not require registration under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).

Reg S Covers Offers and Sales That Occur Outside of the United States

Regulation S uses a “territorial approach” to Securities Act registration, which makes sense because this is a geographical issue.  The basic rules are that offers and sales subject to Section 5 of the Securities Act include any offers and sales occurring within the United States but that they do not include offers and sales that occur outside of the United States.

Must Be an Offshore Transaction with No Directed Selling Efforts in the US

Regulation S also includes several safe harbor exemptions addressing specific types of transactions.  Each Regulation S safe harbor is subject to two general conditions:

  1. The offer or sale must occur in an “offshore transaction.” The Seller must reasonably believe that the Buyer is offshore at the time of the offer or sale.  Or the transaction must happen on certain “designated offshore securities markets.”  This includes Canadian markets.  The transaction cannot be “pre-arranged” with a Buyer in the US.
  2. No “directed selling efforts” may be made within the US by the Issuer, a Distributor, any of their affiliates, or Agents acting on their behalf.  This essentially means no marketing whatsoever within the United States or on the internet, unless the website includes certain disclaimers designed to discourage US Persons from reading the materials.

Reg S Has Many Potential Pitfalls for Issuers and Shareholders

Reg S may sound simple but there are many more caveats associated with its use, including several nuances depending on the type of securities being offered,  and whether the Issuer is a foreign or US based company.  Depending on these factors, Regulation S may treat two OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets public companies very differently, and this has an impact on the Shareholder’s ability to cite Reg S as an exemption from registration.

Issuers considering using Regulation S, and Shareholders that own Reg S Shares can contact securities lawyer Matt Stout for further information at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com

 

 

What Does Caveat Emptor or Skull & Crossbones Mean on OTC Markets?

caveat-emptor The Caveat Emptor or “Buyer Beware” warning on OTC Markets means that there is  a public interest concern involving the Issuer, its Management or Securities.

Although the skull and crossbones implies that there is something possibly toxic about the stock, and looks scary, it really functions to alert the Issuer to provide documentation requested by a regulatory authority like the SEC in order to clear up what might just be a misunderstanding.

Caveat Emptor is Inevitable When Issuers Ignore SEC Inquires

In many cases, the existing Management or prospective Buyers of Caveat Emptor pubic vehicles will discover that the source of the skull and crossbones is a matter easily explained when a securities lawyer takes the time to follow the process.

Another way of looking at a Caveat Emptor is that the skull and crossbones is the inevitable result when an Issuer ignores an SEC inquiry, even if there is nothing whatsoever wrong.

Issuers Should Respect the Process and Hire Counsel to Respond

The difference between having a skull and crossbones for a few days or forever comes down to whether an Issuer respects the process enough to respond properly.  Hoping it will go away doesn’t work.  Management hiding their heads in the sand won’t remove it.

It is not the goal of the SEC, OTC Markets or any other organization to blacklist companies for life; those with good management and transparent numbers, that take the time and demonstrate good faith by cooperating fully are often rewarded quickly.  There is nothing to lose by responding and Shareholders have a lot to gain if the stock can start trading again.

Even if there was a legitimate public interest concern which caused the Caveat Emptor warning, once the Issuer takes affirmative steps to address past problems, it can distance itself from bad actors or past mistakes.   This process is all about disclosure, and more transparency is always better for both Management and Shareholders.

Pink Current Issuers who suddenly find themselves saddled with the Caveat Emptor badge should pick up the telephone and hire experienced securities counsel, who can coordinate the process of providing the regulatory authority with the information they need.

When is the Caveat Emptor Warning Removed By OTC Markets?

OTC Markets quoted companies may have the Caveat Emptor warning removed by providing their investors with detailed disclosures following the Alternative Reporting Standard.  This is accomplished by using either the OTC Markets Disclosure & News Service or, if the Issuer is an OTCQB, by becoming current again in their SEC filings.  Even after filings are brought current, OTC Markets may continue to mark an Issuer as Caveat Emptor if it believes there might still be a public interest concern.  For this reason, Issuers should specifically address any public interest concerns in their disclosures rather than trying to pretend it didn’t happen.

Experienced Securities Counsel for Caveat Emptor Vehicles

OTC Markets Issuers facing a Caveat Emptor situation should contact experienced securities legal counsel to discuss what is required to remove the skull and crossbones.  There are many reasons why the Caveat Emptor warning can be added to an Issuer’s trading symbol and the proper actions in response depend on why the Issuer was flagged.

Caveat Emptor May Create An Opportunity for Buyers of Public Vehicles

When existing Management of a Caveat Emptor vehicle gives up in frustration or chooses not to respond properly to an SEC inquiry, this can create an opportunity for a group with the money and patience to deal properly with any lingering public interest concerns.  Due diligence is essential in evaluating the difficulty of removing the Caveat Emptor warning, and this should be factored in when looking at a skull and crossbones vehicle that is for sale.

Management or Shareholders of OTC Markets skull and crossbones public vehicles can contact securities attorney Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 for further information.

What is the Alternative Reporting Standard for OTCQX Issuers?

Most public companies that qualify for the OTCQX market tier are SEC reporting companies and already file the typical 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K forms.  In other words, they are the same fully reporting Issuers you would see on the OTCQX or OTC Bulletin Board….but they make more money and have more assets.

However, even when SEC registration is not required, OTCQX companies must still make information publicly available pursuant to Rule 10b-5 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and pursuant to Rule 144(c)(2) under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).

In order to comply with these requirements, OTC Markets Group offers the Alternative Reporting Standard for companies that elect to make material information publicly available to investors.

To qualify for OTCQX, U.S., companies not already fully reporting to the SEC can follow the Alternative Reporting Standard.  These companies submit information to OTC Markets per the OTCQX U.S. Disclosure Guidelines and are then subject to the eligibility requirements, terms and conditions of the OTCQX Rules for U.S. Companies.

Under the Alternative Reporting Standard, OTCQX Issuers provide investors with all material information necessary for the investor to make an informed investment decision.  This essentially amounts to the same information SEC reporting companies put in their Form 10 filings.

What Happens to Stock When a Company is Delisted from an Exchange?

If an Issuer is “Delisted” from the NASDAQ or NYSE, Does This Affect its Shares?

No.  If a Shareholder owns stock in an Issuer that was delisted from a national exchange like the NYSE or NASDAQ and is now being quoted on OTC Markets, nothing changes regarding the shares themselves.

A Shareholder will remain the beneficial owner of the stock even after the Issuer is delisted and that stock can be traded through any broker-dealer that regularly deals in the Over-the-Counter Markets or in OTC securities.

Which Brokers Accept Delisted Stock?

Will the delisted stock be accepted by E-Trade or TD-Ameritrade?  Probably not, but those are not your broker of choice for OTC Bulletin Board or OTC Markets Pink Sheet stocks anyway.

Can companies get “delisted” from the OTCQX, OTCQB and OTC Pink marketplaces?

No. OTC Markets quotes stocks but is not an exchange so there are no “listings.”  The only way a public company’s stock stops being quoted in either the OTCQX, OTCQB and OTC Pink Sheet marketplaces is if every broker-dealer stops quoting the stock.

In those rare circumstances when public companies shares no longer exist, but they still have a trading symbol, and are still being quoted, the Issuer has an obligation to notify FINRA.  FINRA will investigate and, if warranted, eliminate the trading symbol, and inform OTC Markets that the ticker is no longer valied. OTC Markets  will then remove the quotations in that stock from OTCMarkets.com.

Shareholders needing referrals to brokers who specialize in the OTCBB, OTCQB, OTCQX and Pink Sheet stocks can contact Matt Stout, securities attorney, for a referral at (410) 429-7076.