On May 9, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed amendments to the accelerated filer and large accelerated filer definitions in Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Rule 12b-2. The proposed amendments would exclude certain lower-revenues companies from being classified as accelerated or large accelerated filers, which would reduce costs for those companies.
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As a result of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 2015 request for comments on Regulation S-X, the SEC recently proposed amendments (the Proposal) to improve the financial disclosures provided to investors concerning an acquisition or disposition of a business. The Proposal is designed to reduce complexity and compliance costs and facilitate more timely access to capital for those complying with such rules.
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The Securities and Exchange Commission recently adopted final rules to modernize and simplify the disclosure requirements for public companies under Regulation S-K. This rulemaking was mandated by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), and the final rules are substantially in the forms originally proposed by the SEC in October 2017 (as discussed in the October 20, 2017 edition of the Corporate and Financial Weekly Digest).

The final rules make several significant changes to Regulation S-K and related rules and forms. The following are some highlights:
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The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced that it had at last adopted final rules to implement Section 14(j) (Disclosure of Hedging by Employees and Directors) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which was enacted in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. New Item 407(i) of Regulation S-K will require a company to describe any practices or policies it has adopted regarding the ability of employees (including officers) or directors, or their designees, to purchase financial instruments, or otherwise engage in transactions, that hedge or offset, or are designed to hedge or offset, any decrease in the market value of equity securities of the company held directly or indirectly by employees or directors, including company equity securities granted as compensation. This disclosure will be required in proxy or information statements relating to the election of directors. The final rules specify that the disclosure requirement will apply to equity securities of the company, its parents, its subsidiaries and subsidiaries of the company’s parents, but do not define the term “designee” (instead requiring a facts and circumstances analysis).
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On November 1, the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (Division) published Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14I (SLB 14I), which provides new, issuer-friendly guidance on shareholder proposals in advance of the 2018 proxy season. Specifically, SLB 14I provides guidance on (1) exclusion of shareholder proposals under the “ordinary business” and “economic relevance” exceptions under Rule 14a-8 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; (2) proposals submitted on behalf of shareholders through a representative; and (3) the use of images in proposals.
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Several companies have received shareholder letters seeking to recover short-swing profits from insiders under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, alleging that such insiders made non-exempt purchases of stock within six months of having shares withheld either for payment of the exercise price of employee stock options or to satisfy tax liabilities upon the vesting of restricted stock units (resulting in deemed dispositions of those shares). In each case, the shareholder has claimed that the Rule 16b-3(e) exemption (for transactions between an issuer and its officers and directors) is only available for such dispositions when the withholding is automatic, without an election by the insider or the company. On April 26, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted a motion to dismiss in JD. Jordan v. Robert Flexton, et al., No.4:16-CV03316, holding that dispositions of restricted stock units to cover tax withholding are compensation related transactions designed to be exempt under Section 16b-3(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
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