On February 19, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed Rule 163B under the Securities Act of 1933, which would permit any issuer, and any underwriter or other person acting on an issuer’s behalf, to communicate with qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) and institutional accredited investors (IAIs) regarding a potential public offering prior to or following the filing of a registration statement for the offering. These so-called “test-the-waters” communications are intended to help issuers gauge interest in possible public offerings before issuers incur the costs of filing a registration statement with the SEC.

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On February 6, the staff of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission released two identical Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DIs). These C&DIs provide guidance on disclosure required under Items 401 and 407 of Regulation S-K in circumstances where a director or board nominee self-identifies specific diversity characteristics, such as race,

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 September 30, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Senate Bill 826 (SB 826), which requires a publicly held corporation with shares listed on “a major United States stock exchange” and whose principal executive offices are located in California (as reported on the corporation’s annual report on Form 10-K) (Covered Corporations) to have at least one female director serving on its board of directors by December 31, 2019. By December 31, 2021, a Covered Corporation must have at least (a) three female directors if its board consists of six or more members, (b) two female directors if its board consists of five members or (c) one female director if its board consists of four or fewer members. Under SB 826, a female is defined as any individual who self-identifies as a woman, regardless of such individual’s designated sex at birth.

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On August 17, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced the adoption of proposed rule amendments (Amendments) to update and simplify certain disclosure requirements that “have become redundant, duplicative, overlapping, outdated or superseded” in light of (1) US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP); (2) International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS); (3) other SEC disclosure requirements; or (4) changes in the information environment, noting that the Amendments are intended to reduce the compliance burden for registrants without “significantly altering the total mix of information available to investors.” The SEC first proposed (and requested comment on) the Amendments in July 2016, as previously reported in the July 22, 2016 edition of the Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest. The Amendments are part of the SEC’s ongoing efforts to review and improve disclosure requirements for the benefit of investors and issuers, as well as implement provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
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On August 17, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that, after speaking with “some of the world’s top business leaders” concerning ideas to improve business in the US, he has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to study the current requirement that publicly traded companies report financial results on a quarterly basis and explore the

In a recently issued letter decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery reiterated the general rule that directors have an unencumbered right to access corporate information (with certain exceptions). The case involves a dispute between two groups of directors—those affiliated with a controlling stockholder, and those that are not. An affiliated director filed a motion to compel the production of information, including corporate communications between (1) unaffiliated directors and officers of the corporation and company counsel; and (2) members of a special committee formed specifically to negotiate with the controlling stockholder and that committee’s own independent counsel. The court largely granted the affiliated director’s request, with the exception of communications between the special committee and its counsel.
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On May 24, President Trump signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. While the Act primarily serves to relieve smaller financial institutions from the burden of complying with certain requirements under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Act also directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt amendments to Rule 701 under the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act) and so-called “Regulation A+,” as summarized below.  
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On February 21, the US Supreme Court decided Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers (583 U.S. ____ (2018)), which resolved a circuit split related to whether the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 124 Stat. 1376 (Dodd-Frank) extend to individuals who have not reported a securities law violation to the Securities and Exchange Commission and, therefore, falls outside of Dodd-Frank’s definition of a “whistleblower.”
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On Thursday, December 14 at 12:00 p.m. (CT), please join Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Ernst & Young LLP and Strategic Governance Advisors for a webinar discussion of key developments and trends impacting public companies in the 2018 annual reporting and proxy season.

Further details are available here; click here to register.