With Regulation D (RegD) offerings, companies are exempt from registering securities with the SEC. Under RegD, companies can raise capital from accredited investors (and a limited number of nonaccredited investors in some cases) to support the growth of their business. This has become a popular method for private companies to raise capital, and can often be a starting point for larger capital raises under Regulation CF or Regulation A+. This popularity and the minimal disclosure requirements of RegD have prompted SEC Commissioner Caroline A. Crenshaw to propose changes to RegD disclosure requirements in January. Let’s see about these reforms to RegD.
Current Regulations Under RegD
The objective of RegD was to enable small and medium-sized businesses to seek capital-raising opportunities, without the cost-prohibitive disclosure requirements of a public offering. Under current regulation, companies may make private offerings of securities without having to register with the SEC, provided that they comply with certain disclosure requirements. These include filing Form D (which provides information about a company’s executives and its financial condition) and providing investors with a private placement memorandum outlining the terms of the offering. However, as this method of capital raising has been leveraged by multi-billion-dollar companies for whom it was not originally intended, the SEC is looking to update the disclosure requirements.
Commissioner Crenshaw’s Proposed Reforms
Commissioner Crenshaw has proposed a two-tiered framework, similar to Regulation A (RegA) which also provides an exemption from SEC registration requirements. Under the proposed reforms, companies offering securities through RegD would be required to provide more disclosure than is currently required, with the burden of disclosure increasing based on company size. Smaller companies (up to a threshold) would only need to provide basic information about their business operations such as management, operational updates, and financial statements. Larger companies (over the threshold) would be required to provide additional, heightened financial disclosures similar to those that are required under an S-1 filing.
This reform could have far-reaching implications for small and medium businesses that wish to access capital markets and would largely depend on where the threshold is set. It remains to be seen whether these proposed reforms will move forward, but it’s clear that Commissioner Crenshaw is interested in modernizing and streamlining the process of raising capital.
Effects of These Changes
The SEC’s proposed reforms would require issuers to provide more extensive disclosure and adhere to certain standards that are typically only associated with public offerings. This could potentially be a costly endeavor, as it would involve additional filing fees, legal expenses, and accounting costs.
The proposed reforms could also limit the ability of small businesses to access capital through Regulation D, as the costs associated with meeting the new requirements may be too high for some companies. For example, smaller companies may find it difficult to pay for the necessary accounting and legal fees, or they may not be able to generate enough interest from investors due to the higher thresholds that must be met to qualify for RegD. Small start-ups trying to raise only $250,000, these companies may not have the money to prepare the audited financials and Form 1A level disclosures.
The SEC’s proposed reforms of Regulation D are a step in the right direction toward protecting investors and ensuring that issuers adhere to certain standards. However, these reforms could potentially be harmful to small businesses seeking to raise capital through RegD offerings. The SEC needs to consider the potential effects of its proposed reforms and ensure that they are not overly burdensome on companies whose access to capital is already limited.