Rule 144(i), as amended, states that Rule 144 is not available for the resale of securities initially issued by a former shell company unless the following two requirements are met:
1. One (1) year has passed since the Issuer filed current “Form 10 information.” What is Form 10 information? It is the information that would be required if the Issuer were filing a general form for registration of securities on Form 10 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or under an S-1, which reflects its status as an entity which is no longer a “shell”; and
2. The Issuer is current on all reports required to be filed with the SEC during the One (1) Year before the shareholder elects to sell shares.
The Evergreen Rule Requires Current Information Under Rule 144
The latter requirement, that the Issuer be current for the prior twelve months, is known as the “Evergreen Rule” and without that requirement being met, the former shell company’s securities can never be sold under Rule 144. As a practical matter, the Evergreen Rule means that the restrictive legend on the shareholder’s stock certificate cannot be removed in advance of a contemplated sale, since that could mean the actual sale might occur at a time when the Issuer’s filings are no longer current.
The Evergreen Rule as applied to former shell companies lasts forever, even if the Issuer ceased to be a shell long ago, and even if the required Form 10 information was filed many years ago.
For this reason, management of former shell companies should consult with experienced securities counsel when deciding how to respond to requests by shareholders for restrictive legend removal.
Matt Stout is a microcap securities lawyer representing OTCMarkets Issuers in a full range of securities legal matters including reverse mergers, DTC eligibility, securities legal opinions and SEC compliance. Mr. Stout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 429-7076 with questions about Rule 144.