Reg A and Reg CF Issuers: Time to Count Your Shareholders!

Monday June 21, 2021

Reg A and Reg CF Issuers: Time to Count Your Shareholders!

Reg A and Reg CF have been around for a few years now and we are finding that some of our clients, especially those that have made multiple offerings, are getting to the point where they need to consider the implications of Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act, which requires companies to become registered with the SEC when they meet certain asset and investor number thresholds.

Let’s start with the requirements of Section 12(g). It says that if, on the last day of its fiscal year, an issuer has assets of $10 million and a class of equity securities held of record by either 2,000 persons or 500 persons who are not accredited investors, it has to register that class of securities with the SEC.

Drilling down on each of those elements:

  • Assets: This is gross, not net, and it will include any cash that a company has raised in an offering but not spent yet.
  • Class of equity securities: Issuers with multiple series of preferred stock or multiple series in a series LLC will need to talk to their lawyers about what constitutes a separate “class.”
  • Held of record: Brokers or custodians holding in “street name” count as a single holder of record. Crowdfunding SPVs created under the SEC’s new rules also count as one holder, and as discussed below, there are special, conditional, rules for counting Reg A and Reg CF investors.  But check with your lawyers whether you need to “look through” SPVs formed for the purpose of investing in Reg D offerings.
  • Accredited status: Issuers are probably going to have to make assumptions as to the accredited status of their investors unless they maintain that information separately, and assume investors in Reg D offerings are accredited, and investors in Reg A and Reg CF offerings are not.
  • Registering a class of securities in effect means filing a registration statement with all relevant information about the company and becoming a fully-reporting company. This includes PCAOB audits, quarterly filings, proxy statements, more extensive disclosure and all-round more expensive legal and accounting support.

Since becoming a fully-reporting company is not feasible for early-stage companies, both Reg A and Reg CF are covered by conditional exemptions from the requirements of Section 12(g). The conditions for each are different.

Issuers need not count the holders of securities originally issued in Reg A offerings (even if subsequently transferred) as “holders of record” if:

  • The company has made all the periodic filings required of a Reg A company (Forms 1-K, 1-SA and 1-U);
  • It has engaged a registered transfer agent; AND
  • It does not have a public float (equity securities held by non-affiliates multiplied by trading price) of $75m, or if no public trading, had revenues of less than $50m in the most recent year.

Issuers need not count the holders of securities issued in Reg CF offerings (even if subsequently transferred) as “holders of record” if:

  • The company is current in its annual filing (Form C-AR) requirements;
  • It has engaged a registered transfer agent; AND
  • It has total assets of less than $25m at the end of the most recent fiscal year.

It’s important that the issuer’s transfer agent keep accurate records of which exemption securities were issued under, even when they are transferred. As of March 15, 2021, Reg CF also allows the use of “crowdfunding vehicles”, a particular kind of SPV with specific requirements for control, fees, and rights of the SPV in order to put all of the investors in a Reg CF offering into one holder of record. This is not available for Reg A, and still comes with administrative requirements, which may make use of a transfer agent still practical.

If an issuer goes beyond the asset or public float requirements of its applicable conditional exemption, it will be eligible for a two-year transition period before it is required to register its securities with the SEC. However, if an issuer violates the conditional exemption by not being current in periodic reporting requirements, including filing a report late, then the transition period terminates immediately, requiring registration with the SEC within 120 days after the date on which the issuer’s late report was due to be filed.

It’s good discipline for companies who have made a few exempt offerings and had some success in their business to consider, on a regular basis, counting their assets and their shareholders and assess whether they may be about to lose one or both of the conditional exemptions and whether they need to plan for becoming a public reporting company.

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