Articles Posted in Private Equity

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We urge our clients to consult Pillsbury’s comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Center for information regarding Responding to a Global Crisis, Business Interruption, Cybersecurity, Employer Concerns and other general matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recommend the following specific measures to mitigate risks of business interruption and regulatory noncompliance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Registered Investment Advisers

Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) and Vendor Management. As part of its fiduciary duty to clients, a registered investment adviser is required to adopt and implement BCPs to reduce risks that could result in business interruption. Accordingly, in anticipation of the potential spread of COVID-19, many investment advisers have activated portions of their business continuity and crisis management plans, including, for example, through teleworking. As part of implementing BCPs, investment advisers should review third-party vendor contracts and outsourcing relationships in order to be prepared for disruptions that may affect them through back doors. Cloud-based services and other technology also should be reviewed and tested in light of increased demand for access arising out of teleworking. Communications with brokers and custodians should be reviewed to minimize the risk of communication and reporting failures that could harm clients.

Filing Extensions for Investment Adviser Regulatory Reporting. The SEC issued emergency orders on March 13, 2020, providing temporary relief to investment advisers and investment companies from certain filing, disclosure delivery and governance requirements (e.g., Form ADV, 13G, CPO-PQR). Each form of relief was conditioned on actual coronavirus-related hardships and requires notice to the SEC’s Division of Investment Management of reliance on such relief and the reasons for reliance. The SEC issued modified conditional orders on March 25, 2020 that provide investment advisers and certain investment funds additional time with respect to meeting certain filing and delivery requirements and holding in-person board meetings, if they are unable to meet the deadlines due to circumstances related to current or potential effects of COVID-19.  The new orders supersede the SEC’s original emergency orders issued on March 13, 2020, and extend the time period covered by the temporary exemptive relief until June 30, 2020.

An adviser’s applicable filing and delivery obligations under the relief must be satisfied no later than 45 days after the original due date for filing or delivery (as was provided in the original exemptive order); however, the new order generally makes the temporary exemptive relief available for filing and delivery obligations that would have been due between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2020 (unless further extended).

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Pillsbury’s Investment Funds and Investment Management team is available to assist with compliance and risk management related to COVID-19.  Please contact your client relationship attorney for additional information regarding your obligations.

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This is a reminder about the upcoming annual compliance deadlines that may or may not apply to you.

Please click HERE to open a summary chart of the filing deadlines.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or need assistance with any of these filings.

Sincerely,

Pillsbury IFIM Group

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In a press release issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 20, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2019 Examination Priorities.

This year’s examination priorities, although not exhaustive, are divided into 6 categories:

  1. Compliance and risk at registrants responsible for critical market infrastructure;
  2. Matters of importance to retail investors, including seniors and those saving for retirement;
  3. FINRA and MSRB;
  4. Digital assets;
  5. Cybersecurity; and
  6. Anti-money laundering programs.

Read the OCIE 2019 Examination Priorities in full HERE.

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This alert contains a summary of the primary annual and periodic compliance-related obligations that may apply to investment advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Advisers”), and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) and commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) (collectively with Investment Advisers, “Managers”).[1]  Due to the length of this Alert, we have linked the topics to the Table of Contents and other subtitles for easy click-access.

This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) New Developments; (iii) 2018 National Exam Program Examination Priorities; (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas; and (v) Securities and Other Forms Filings.

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Read this article and additional Pillsbury publications at Pillsbury Insights.

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The Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the SEC issued a Risk Alert yesterday providing a list of the most frequently identified compliance issues relating to the Advertising Rule (Rule 206(4)-1) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.  These compliance issues were identified as part of the OCIE examination of investment advisers:  misleading performance results, misleading one-on-one presentations, misleading claim of compliance with voluntary performance standards, “cherry-picked” profitable stock selections, misleading selection of recommendations and insufficient/inaccurate compliance policies and procedures.

Compliance with the Advertising Rule has long been, and remains, a favorite focus of the SEC.  In an age of fundraising challenges, investment advisers must balance the pressing need of appealing to prospective clients with adherence to precise regulatory standards.  Each marketing piece should go through rigorous internal review and sign-off procedures and, as necessary, outside counsel evaluation.  Investment advisers are urged to pay special attention to any form of performance or track record marketing.

Click here for the full Risk Alert. Contact your Pillsbury attorney for additional assistance.

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In a press release today, The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “Commission”) unanimously approved a final rule amending Regulation 1.31.

The Commission is amending the recordkeeping obligations set forth in Commission regulations along with corresponding technical changes to certain provisions regarding retention of oral communications and record retention requirements applicable to swap dealers and major swap participants, respectively. The amendments modernize and make technology neutral the form and manner in which regulatory records must be kept, as well as rationalize the rule text for ease of understanding for those persons required to keep records pursuant to the Commodity Exchange Act and regulations promulgated by the Commission thereunder. The amendments do not alter any existing requirements regarding the types of regulatory records to be inspected, produced, and maintained set forth in other Commission regulations.

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On December 5, 2016, a Notice of reporting requirements was filed in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Treasury informing the public of the Treasury’s mandatory survey, due every 5 years, of ownership of foreign securities by U.S. residents as of December 31, 2016.  All U.S. persons who meet the reporting requirements must respond to, and comply with, this survey on Form TIC-SHC by March 3, 2017.

Who Must Report? 

i. Fund Managers and Investors.  U.S. persons who own foreign securities for their own portfolios and/or who invest in foreign securities on behalf of others (referred to as ‘‘end-investors’’), including investment managers and fund sponsors such as:

  • Managers of private and public pension funds
  • Hedge fund managers
  • Managers and sponsors of private equity funds, venture capital companies and similar private investment vehicles
  • Managers and sponsors of commingled funds such as money market mutual funds, country funds, unit-investment funds, exchange-traded funds, collective-investment trusts, and similar funds
  • Foundations and endowments
  • Trusts and estates
  • Insurance companies
  • U.S. affiliates of foreign entities that fall into the above categories.

These U.S. Persons must report on Form SHC if the total fair value of foreign securities—aggregated over all accounts and for all U.S. branches and affiliates of their firm—is $200 million or more as of the close of business on December 31, 2016.

ii.  Custodians. U.S. persons who manage, as custodians, the safekeeping of foreign securities for themselves and other U.S. persons (including affiliates in the U.S. of foreign entities). These U.S. persons must report on Form SHC if the total fair value of the foreign securities whose safekeeping they manage on behalf of U.S. persons—aggregated over all accounts and for all U.S. branches and affiliates of their firm—is $200 million or more as of the close of business on December 31, 2016.

iii.  Those Notified. U.S. persons who are notified by letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These U.S. persons must file Schedule 1, even if the recipient of the letter is under the reporting threshold of $200 million and need only report ‘‘exempt’’ on Schedule 1. U.S. persons who meet the reporting threshold must also file Schedule 2 and/or Schedule 3.

What To Report?

Information on holdings by U.S. residents of foreign securities, including equities, long-term debt securities, and short-term debt securities (including selected money market instruments).

How To Report?

Completed reports on Form TIC-SHC can be submitted electronically or mailed to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Statistics Function, 4th Floor, 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10045–0001. Inquiries can be made to the survey staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at (212) 720–6300 or email: SHC.help@ny.frb.org.   Inquiries can also be made to Dwight Wolkow at (202) 622–1276, email: comments2TIC@do.treas.gov

When To Report?

The report must be submitted by March 3, 2017.

Additional information including technical information for electronic submission can be obtained from the Form SHC Instructions available here.

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In line with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) goal to enhance regulatory safeguards in the asset management industry, the SEC yesterday released a proposed new rule and rule amendments under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The proposed new rule 206(4)-4 would require SEC-registered investment advisers to adopt and implement written business continuity and transition plan (BCP) and review the plan’s adequacy and effectiveness at least annually.  The proposed amendment to rule 204-2 would require such advisers to keep copies of all BCPs that are in effect or were in effect during the last five years, and any records documenting the adviser’s annual review of its BCP.

The proposed rule is designed to address operational and other risks (internal or external) related to a significant disruption (temporary or permanent) in the investment adviser’s operations. Operational risks and disruptions generally include natural disasters or calamities, cyber-attacks, system failures, key personnel departure, business sale, merger, bankruptcy and similar events.

Under the proposed rule, an SEC-registered adviser should develop its BCP based upon risks associated with the adviser’s business operations and must include policies and procedures that minimize material service disruptions and address the following critical elements:

  • System maintenance and data protection
  • Pre-arranged alternate physical locations
  • Communication plans
  • Review of third-party service providers
  • Transition plan in the event of dissolution or inability to continue providing advisory services

The comment period will be 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

A full copy of the proposed rule is available HERE.

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The CFTC’s recent enforcement against Bitfinex’s financed trading activities demonstrates the Commission’s increasing interest in virtual currency and digital assets.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is further expanding its oversight of virtual currency exchanges and digital assets in general. On June 2, 2016, Bitfinex (a Hong Kong-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange) settled with the CFTC following an investigation into its trading activities. The CFTC charged that the exchange offered illegal off-exchange financed retail commodity transactions, and that Bitfinex had failed to register as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) as required by law. As a result, Bitfinex will pay $75,000 in civil penalties.

This action is more evidence of the CFTC’s interest in not only bitcoins, but any digital asset that can be considered a commodity. Transactions in decentralized digital tokens (such as Ether, DAO Tokens, Safecoins, Factoids, and Bitcrystals) are becoming more common, and so is regulatory interest.

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Read this article and additional publications at pillsburylaw.com/publications-and-presentations.  You can also download a copy of the Client Alert here.

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President Obama signed into law the SBIC Advisers Relief Act (as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015—the FAST Act) on December 4, 2015.  (See also our Annual Compliance Alert)  After the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, advisers to Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) were limited in their choice to one of the available exemptions from registration under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The SBIC Advisers Relief Act provides certain additional relief for investment advisers that advise private funds and SBICs, and for those that advise venture funds and SBICs. The SEC’s Investment Management Guidance update  interprets the SBIC Advisers Relief Act and its implications.

What is an SBIC?

An SBIC is a privately owned and operated investment company making long term investments specifically in U.S. businesses and is licensed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The primary reason firms choose to become licensed with the SBA is to secure SBA financing.

What is the SBIC Adviser Exemption?

As originally implemented by the Dodd-Frank Act, the SBIC adviser exemption provided relief from SEC registration to those advisers whose only clients consisted of one or more SBICs, irrespective of assets under management.  However, the SBIC adviser exemption did not allow advisers to combine multiple exemptions such as the private fund or venture capital fund adviser exemptions in order to avoid SEC registration.

For example, an Adviser to both a venture fund and an SBIC (that does not qualify as a venture fund) would not be able to rely on either the venture capital fund adviser exemption or the SBIC adviser exemption.  Instead, the adviser would have had to rely on the private fund adviser exemption which would only be available to it if it had less than $150 million in regulatory assets under management.

Impact of the SBIC Advisers Relief Act on the use of the Venture Capital Fund and Private Fund Adviser Exemptions

The SBIC Advisers Relief Act amends Investment Advisers Act by:

  • including in the definition of a venture capital fund SBIC funds (other than business development companies).
  • excluding from the private fund adviser exemption the $150 million asset limitation with respect to a private fund that is a SBIC fund (other than a business development company).

As a result, an adviser:

  • may rely on the venture capital fund adviser exemption and advise both SBICs and venture capital funds; or
  • may rely on the private fund adviser exemption and advise both SBICs and non-SBIC private funds as long as the non-SBIC private funds account for less than $150 million in assets under management.
  • that is registered and advises SBICs may be eligible to withdraw its registration and begin reporting to the SEC as an exempt reporting adviser under either the venture capital fund adviser exemption or the private fund adviser exemption.

In contrast to an adviser relying solely on the SBIC Adviser Exemption, the SEC staff believes that when an SBIC adviser choses to rely on the private fund or venture capital fund exemption, the adviser is required to submit reports to the SEC as an exempt reporting adviser.

Additionally, the SEC staff notes that (i) advisers currently relying on the private fund or venture capital adviser exemption may advise SBIC clients following the revised exemptions and (ii) certain registered advisers of SBICs may be eligible to withdraw their current registration and rely upon the private fund adviser or the venture capital fund exemption as exempt reporting advisers.

State Implications

It is important to note that the Investment Advisers Act, as amended by the SBIC Advisers Relief Act, now preempts states from requiring advisers that rely on the SBIC fund exemption to register, be licensed or qualify as an investment adviser in the state.  As a result of the federal preemption, advisers that manage only SBIC funds will be relieved from having to register (or may withdraw if registered) in states that have not adopted exemptions to investment adviser registration analogous to the Investment Advisers Act.

Please contact an Investment Funds and Investment Management group attorney for further detail and with your questions.