Articles Tagged with Jobs Act

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Written by:  Jay Gould and Peter Chess

Heath Abshure, President of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and Arkansas State Securities Commissioner, sharply criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (the SEC’s) new rulemaking that will lift restrictions on general solicitation and general advertising for hedge funds and other private investment vehicles in a press-teleconference on October 9, 2012.  At the heart of the criticism is the contention that hedge funds and private equity funds could be among the amended rule’s biggest users and beneficiaries. “The SEC’s proposed rule would open the door for private equity and hedge funds, typically only offered to the most sophisticated investors, to advertise to the general public without putting in place basic disclosure requirements that would allow investors to make informed decisions about the products being offered. This is the wrong way to go,” remarked Heath Slavkin Corzo, senior legal and policy advisor of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment during the teleconference.

Under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the JOBS Act), as discussed here and here, the SEC was directed to amend Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, to permit general solicitation and general advertising in unregistered offerings made under Rule 506, provided that all purchasers of the securities are accredited investors.  In reaction to the SEC’s answer to the directives of the JOBS Act, Abshure called for the SEC to withdraw its proposal and draft a new rule that promotes capital formation without sacrificing investor protection.

“People don’t seem to think so, but this is a drastic change to the face of securities regulation,” Abshure said. “Rule 506 offerings already are the most frequent financial product at the heart of state enforcement investigations and actions. Lifting the advertising ban on these highly risky, illiquid offerings, without requiring appropriate safeguards, will create chaos in the market and expose investors to an even greater risk of fraud and abuse. Without adequate investor protections to safeguard the integrity of the private placement marketplace, investors should and will flee from the market, leaving small businesses without an important source of capital.”

“The Commission itself has acknowledged that lifting the ban on general solicitation in private offerings will increase the risk of fraud, potentially harming investors and issuers alike,” added Barbara Roper, Director of Investor Protection for the Consumer Federation of America and the chair of the Investor Issues task force of Americans for Financial Reform during the teleconference. “While the Commission is required by the JOBS Act to lift the solicitation ban, it also has an obligation to adopt rules that protect investors and promote market integrity and the authority to do so.  A number of reasonable, concrete proposals have been suggested that, if adopted, would significantly improve safeguards for investors in private offerings.  Its rule proposal completely ignores those suggestions.  It cannot in good conscience continue to do so.”

The full press release about the teleconference is available here

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This guest post from the Margolis Advisory Group, co-authored by River Communications, is reprinted with permission.  The Executive Summary appears below and the full text is available here.

The JOBS Act is bringing change to the hedge fund industry, and, most likely, this change will accelerate the trend towards institutionalization. The lifting of the “advertising ban” opens the playbook, allowing hedge funds to engage in a wide range of strategic communications and marketing activities. For some, this will offer a new opportunity to compete for assets with traditional managers adept at managing their brands and marketplace perceptions. Others will resist, possibly to their detriment, as funds will no longer have the luxury of hiding “under the radar.”

Hedge funds who embrace the new, less restrictive environment will need to build mature, comprehensive strategic communications programs. The best practices include:

  • Revisiting the brand and value proposition on a regular basis to ensure it accurately and effectively reflects a “firm’s DNA.”
  • Implementing a consistent process that provides for the regular refreshing of value-added content to communications vehicles.
  • Creating content that provides true thought leadership, enhanced with proprietary surveys, and investment & industry commentary.
  • Considering a broad range of distribution and engagement vehicles to build awareness of the firm, including: web and mobile devices, public relations, marketing communications, targeted advertising and investor communications.

Hedge funds have thrived by embracing and even becoming catalysts for change. In this hyper-competitive industry, it is commonplace to expend disproportionate resources to capture even a minimal investment performance advantage. Because of this, it is surprising that there has not been more enthusiastic support in the trades for what is potentially the next major shift for the industry: the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act or JOBS Act.

Passed with little fanfare, the JOBS Act lifts the ban on advertising for hedge funds (among other provisions) and has the potential to transform how managers market their firms, build their brands and communicate with their investors. Yet, much of the discussion in the trades and on the hedge fund industry speaking circuit has downplayed the potential impact of this provision as being only meaningful to the smaller funds. Large funds—as the typical explanation goes—believe they do not need to proactively market, as they commonly market off their mystique of exclusivity and will prefer to remain “under the radar” to protect their proprietary investment strategies. Furthermore, the larger funds are already staffed for one-on-one sales, and many in the hedge fund industry are under the false impression that sales are only based on individual contacts or “having the Rolodex.”

The fact is, change is coming to the hedge fund industry, and many managers will continue to adapt to the ongoing evolution as they always have. Most likely, this change will accelerate the trend towards resembling traditional managers—for hedge funds can now adopt advertising and marketing techniques, as well.

Consider the trends we have observed in the hedge fund and institutional asset management space, especially since the market declines of ’07-’08. New regulations have increased the demand for information on leverage and counterparty risk; the migration from single to multi-prime brokers has occurred, and institutional investors are demanding more transparency in investment operations, risk and administration. Perhaps, most significantly—the largest institutional investors have been allocating funds almost exclusively to the largest hedge funds.

According to “The Evolution of the Industry: 2012,” an annual KPMG/AIMA hedge fund survey, institutional investors now represent a clear majority of all assets under management by the global hedge fund industry, with 57 percent of the industry’s AUM residing in this category. And, the proportion of hedge fund industry assets originating from institutional investors has grown significantly since the financial crisis.

As a result, we are seeing a continuation of the institutionalization of hedge funds. The KPMG study confirmed this with survey data indicating that investors demand hedge funds look and act more like traditional institutional managers from an operational standpoint. In addition, 82 percent of respondents reported an increase in demand for transparency from investors, while 88 percent said investors are demanding greater due diligence.

Our own experience consulting with hedge funds and traditional managers has confirmed other indications of this trend, as well as with all investors—large and small—demanding greater operational efficiency; cost reduction; and models that enhance overall risk management, such as the move from single to multi-prime relationships; all delivered in an open and transparent way.

For hedge fund managers to attract large pools of money, they will increasingly need to be more institutional and transparent with all investors. This is a significant cultural shift for these firms. Not only do many hedge funds lack a strategic communications infrastructure, but the concept of such openness still runs contrary to the DNA of most firms.

The question then becomes: how should hedge funds that embrace a more open and inclusive communications strategy implement programs that will help them achieve this goal? The answer is they will need to develop an approach to communications that is similar to traditional institutional asset managers.

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Written by:  Jay B. Gould 

The recently enacted JOBS Act[1] requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to promulgate rules that would effectively repeal the ban on general solicitation and general advertising under Rule 506 of Regulation D by private issuers, including private funds.  Pursuant to the JOBS Act, the SEC has 90 days from the date of enactment (July 4, 2012) to adopt rules implementing this provision.   In advance of publishing proposed rules, the SEC has started accepting comment letters on all aspects of the JOBS Act, including the repeal of the ban on general advertising.  

Unsurprisingly, the Investment Company Institute (“ICI”), the lobby organization for mutual funds and other registered funds, has submitted a comment letter requesting that the SEC take a slow and deliberate approach to permitting private funds to generally advertise and solicit investors.  How slow and deliberate?  The ICI suggests that performance advertising by hedge funds should be prohibited altogether until the SEC has had the opportunity to study hedge fund advertising, “gain experience with private fund advertisements,” and craft a rule similar to Rule 482 to which mutual fund advertising is subject.  The ICI tells us that Rule 482 is the culmination of 60 years of experience and that the SEC “should follow the same path here,” referring to advertising by hedge funds and other private funds.  60 years?  Really? 

The ICI has a long and storied history of blocking financial innovation and expansion of investment opportunities for the investing public.  You may recall that the ICI sued the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in an attempt to block banks from acting as investment advisers to mutual funds, a case that they ultimately lost at the Supreme Court.  It is hardly surprising then that the mutual fund lobby would line up against competition by the private funds industry, even at a time when the registered funds and private funds businesses are converging at a rapid pace in terms of product offerings, investment strategies, and regulatory oversight and reporting.  Last August the SEC issued a “concept release” that requested comment on whether registered funds should be able to use the same sorts of investment techniques and to the same extent as private funds, such as hedging, shorting, and use of leverage.  Further action in this regard, coupled with the new reporting obligations of private funds as a result of Dodd Frank (e.g., Form PF) will serve to further blur the lines between registered and unregistered funds. 

In addition to “urging” a ban on performance advertising and promoting the idea of other “content restrictions” by hedge funds and other private funds, the ICI suggests that private fund advertising should be subject to FINRA review to the same extent as mutual fund advertising, and that private fund advertising be clearly distinguished from mutual fund advertising.  The ICI further suggests that the SEC should raise the net worth threshold for “accredited investors” in order to insure that private fund investors have the requisite sophistication to withstand the riskiness associated with private funds (See legalaffairs March–April 2004 issue).  The ICI endorses a $600,000 annual income and $3 million net worth standard, a measure that would further reduce the potential private fund investor pool and drive more investors to the registered world. 

More balanced voices have also started to comment on this issue, so it remains to be seen how much weight the SEC will ultimately attribute to the ICI comment letter.  You may view all of the comment letters regarding the repeal of the ban on general solicitations here.    And you are encouraged to submit your own.

[1]   The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.

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Written by:  Jay B. Gould, Michael Wu and Peter Chess

Note: Pillsbury and KPMG, along with the California Hedge Fund Association, will be sponsoring a “Managers Only” event on the JOBS Act and the new world of “general solicitation” for Funds on June 14.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the “JOBS Act” or the “Act”), signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012, seeks to encourage economic growth through the easing of certain restrictions on capital formation and by improving access to capital.  The JOBS Act contains a number of provisions that will directly impact private funds and their general partners, managers and sponsors.  Below is a summary of the Act’s provisions that directly affect private funds, including ongoing requirements for funds that at this time do not appear to be affected by the Act.

Section 4 of the Securities Act.  The JOBS Act amends Section 4 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”), so that offers and sales exempt under Rule 506 of Regulation D will not be deemed public offerings as a result of general advertising or general solicitation.  Private funds relying on the exception in Section 3(c)(1) (“3(c)(1) Fund”) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (“Investment Company Act”), will be able to continue to avail themselves of this exception so long as all of their investors are accredited investors, as defined in Rule 501 of Regulation D (“Accredited Investors”).  We expect that private funds relying on the exception in 3(c)(7) (“3(c)(7) Fund”) of the Investment Company Act will obtain the greatest benefit from the JOBS Act, as these funds, which accept only “qualified purchasers,” as defined in Section 2(a)(51) of the Investment Company Act, may now have up to 2000 investors (as discussed below) before they would be required to register as a public reporting company under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”).  3(c)(1) Funds will continue to be limited to 99 investors, although a fund manager may organize and offer both a 3(c)(1) Fund and a 3(c)(7) Fund with the same investment objective and strategies without the two funds being subject to “integration” under the Securities Act.

General Solicitation and General Advertising.  The JOBS Act requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to amend Regulation D under the Securities Act to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising for offerings under Rule 506, provided that all purchasers are Accredited Investors.  The Act mandates that the SEC implement rule amendments ninety days after the enactment of the Act, or by July 4, 2012.

It is unlikely that the SEC will be able to meet this deadline given the requirement to provide public notice and comment prior to adopting any final rules; accordingly, these rule amendments are expected to be adopted by the fall with very little transition period.  Although the Act leaves little in the way of discretion to the SEC in the rulemaking process there are two areas in which the SEC may seek to provide substantive guidance.  The SEC is required to amend Regulation D such that any issuers relying on Rule 506 must take reasonable steps to verify that purchasers are Accredited Investors.  Some observers believe that the SEC may require issuers that avail themselves of the general advertising provisions to obtain sufficient financial information from prospective purchasers so that the “accredited status” of such investors can be more precisely determined.  This could take the form of requiring all such issuers to obtain an income statement or verified financial statement from investors.  The other area in which the SEC may attempt to provide additional oversight is with respect to the offering of private fund interests through broker-dealers. 

Brokers and Dealers.  The JOBS Act provides that with regard to securities offered and sold under Rule 506 and subject to certain conditions, registration as a broker or dealer under Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act will not be required for certain persons solely because of the performance of specific functions.[1]  This exemption from registration is available only if such persons: (i) receive no compensation in connection with the purchase and sale of the securities; (ii) do not have possession of customer funds or securities in connection with the purchase and sale of securities; and (iii) are not subject to statutory disqualification (sometimes referred to as “bad boy” provisions).  Although it is uncertain at this time, the SEC may take this opportunity to require private funds that avail themselves of the ability to advertise generally to conduct all offers and sales of their fund interests through a registered broker-dealer.  The SEC realizes that as a result of the fast moving and innovative private funds industry, the regulator lost control of Regulation D as well as the “issuer’s exemption” in Rule 3a4-1 under the Exchange Act, the exemption that fund managers rely upon to offer their securities directly to purchasers.  It is not clear that Rule 3a4-1 was ever intended for this purpose, and the SEC may take this opportunity to clarify how offers and sales are conducted generally by private fund managers.

Record Holders.  The JOBS Act increases from 500 to 2,000 the number of record holders of equity securities an issuer may have before the issuer is required to register under Section 12(g) of the Exchange Act, so long as the number of non-Accredited Investors does not exceed 499.  3(c)(1) Funds will be unable to have any non-Accredited Investors if they want to employ general advertising even though, under Regulation D rules that predate the JOBS Act, sales could be made to up to 35 non-Accredited Investors (with no general solicitation).  There is an outstanding question as to whether the SEC will “grandfather” in existing non-Accredited Investors in 3(c)(1) Funds, or if perhaps some form of Rule 506 will survive whereby sales to non-Accredited Investors will be permissible if no general solicitation takes place.      

Continuing Restrictions and Obligations.  Although the JOBS Act will potentially ease the burdens presented by capital raising for private funds, the following should be noted: 

  • Private fund offerings pursuant to Rule 506 will continue to be subject to the anti-fraud provisions of federal and state securities laws and the restrictions on advertising found in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Advisers Act”).  For example, Rule 206(4)-1 of the Advisers Act (the advertising rule) and its general prohibition against advertisements that are false and misleading still necessitates compliance.  Managers of private funds that advertise generally must understand the advertising rules against “testimonials” in their public marketing materials.  To be “liked” on Facebook or similarly endorsed on other social networking sites would likely be considered to be an illegal testimonial by the SEC which could result in and administrative action accompanied by fines and penalties.   
  • Private funds should continue to rely on the guidance provided in the Clover Capital Management, Inc. SEC no-action letter and the subsequent line of letters when contemplating activities such as performance presentations by following practices so as not to present misleading performance results.  Further, private funds should continue to comply with Rule 206(4)-8 of the Advisers Act and its prohibition on making untrue statements or omitting material facts or otherwise engaging in fraudulent, deceptive or manipulative conduct regarding interactions with investors in pooled investment vehicles.  To the extent a private fund manager avails itself of the ability to advertise past performance, special care will need to be taken to ensure that all documents are consistent and performance information is presented in a manner that is complete and accurate.
  • Private funds should consider and continue to comply with advertising and disclosure rules as applicable to registered advisers and members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  FINRA rules also apply to broker-dealers acting as placement agents or intermediaries in Rule 506 transactions.  Private funds making use of exemptions from registration under the Advisers Act and/or the Investment Company Act must continue to comply with the restrictions set forth in such exemptions.  For example, although the JOBS Act provides that offers and sales exempt from registration under Rule 506 will not be deemed public offerings by virtue of the use of general advertising and general solicitation, 3(c)(1) Funds must not exceed the one hundred beneficial owner limit.

Foreign Private Advisers.  A “foreign private adviser” that qualifies for the exemption from registration under the Advisers Act is an adviser that has no place of business in the U.S., fewer than 15 U.S. clients, less than $25 million attributable to U.S. clients and does not hold itself out generally to the public in the U.S. as an investment adviser.  The SEC in the past has construed certain types of advertising, including information available on websites, as an example of an adviser holding itself out to the public in the U.S. as an investment adviser.  Given the increased freedom for advertising under the JOBS Act, the SEC may look more closely at advisers taking advantage of the foreign private adviser exemption and whether any activities that could be construed as advertising may violate the terms of the exemption.

Regulation S.  Regulation S under the Securities Act, the safe harbor from registration for offshore sales of securities to non-U.S. persons, does not allow for “directed selling efforts” in the U.S.  It remains to be seen if general solicitation or advertising in connection with the amendments to Regulation D will be seen as “directed selling efforts” under Regulation S and whether the SEC will clarify how this will affect the potential use of Regulation S in connection with offerings under Rule 506.

 State Blue Sky Laws.  Many private funds have relied on self-executing exemptions in certain states in order to avoid filings and/or fees required under applicable state statutes or rules.  These self-executing exemptions are commonly conditioned on a prohibition on general solicitation or general advertising.  Private funds employing general solicitation and/or advertising in reliance on the amended Rule 506 should note the mechanics of such Blue Sky laws of the states where securities are being offered and sold and comply accordingly.

[1]   This applies to persons that: (a) maintain a platform or mechanism that permits the offer, sale, purchase, or negotiation of or with respect to securities, or permits general solicitations, general advertisements, or similar or related activities by issuers of such securities, whether online, in person, or through any other means; (b) co-invest in such securities; or (c) provide ancillary services with respect to such securities.

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by Joseph J. Kaufman

New guidance outlines key rules for the new confidential review option for initial public offerings by emerging growth companies in the United States. 

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (also known as the JOBS Act) became a U.S. federal law on April 5, 2012 and immediately authorized a confidential submission option for registered securities offerings in the United States by emerging growth companies (EGCs). The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s Division of Corporation Finance staff promptly announced its procedure for accepting confidential draft registration statements using this option. The staff has also given written and oral guidance on a number of relevant frequently asked questions. This alert explains the background and expected benefits of the confidential submission option and reviews the SEC staff guidance.


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Written by: Jay B. Gould and Peter Chess

On April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the “JOBS Act” or the “Act”) was signed into law, creating a new regulatory on-ramp for emerging growth companies going public.  The JOBS Act also includes provisions that require the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) to undertake various initiatives, including rulemaking and studies touching on capital formation, disclosure and registration requirements.  Title II of the Act affects offerings by issuers pursuant to Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), as well as resales under Rule 144A of the Securities Act.  In particular, the Act directs the SEC to amend its rules to:

  • Repeal the ban on general solicitation and general advertising for offerings under Rule 506 of Regulation D when sales are only to accredited investors;
  • Revise Rule 144A to provide that securities sold under Rule 144A may be offered to persons other than qualified institutional buyers (“QIBs”), including by use of general solicitation or general advertising, provided that securities are only sold to persons reasonably believed to be QIBs; and
  • Amend Section 4 of the Securities Act such that offers and sales exempt under Rule 506 shall not be deemed public offerings under the federal securities laws as a result of general advertising or general solicitation.

For Private Funds, Regulation D as we know it is still in effect for the next 90 days as the JOBS Act directs the SEC to make the relevant rule changes to Rule 506 and Rule 144A within 90 days, but it does not modify the current text of those rules.  In addition, Funds should continue to follow applicable terms of SEC interpretative guidance.  Senior members of the SEC staff participated in discussion of the JOBS Act yesterday that provided further guidance on this subject, and the SEC is still currently seeking public comments on SEC regulatory initiatives under the JOBS Act.

Pillsbury and KPMG, along with the California Hedge Fund Association, will be sponsoring a program on the JOBS Act and the new world of “general solicitation” for Funds in June.

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By: Louis A. Bevilacqua, Joseph R. Tiano, Jr., David S. Baxter, Ali Panjwani and K. Brian Joe

On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), a bill with widespread bipartisan support and assembled from a combination of legislative initiatives introduced throughout 2011 targeting smaller companies and focusing on cheaper capital raising and job creation. We discuss the key provisions of the JOBS Act and their impact on these companies and securities offerings.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) is a consolidation of several bills introduced throughout 20111 with the goal of making it easier for smaller companies to raise money and lessen their regulatory burden while doing so. The House of Representatives passed the JOBS Act on March 8 by a vote of 390-23, and the Senate passed the same bill, with one amendment, on March 22 by a vote of 73-26. The Senate amendment offered a more restrictive take on the House bill’s provisions dealing with the increasingly popular grass-roots financing method known as crowdfunding. On reconsideration of the bill with the Senate amendment, the JOBS Act passed the House by a vote of 380-41 on March 27, and President Obama signed it into law on April 5. The JOBS Act is one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation in recent years to be specifically targeted at developing companies. This Alert summarizes the most important provisions of the JOBS Act and the implications of those provisions.