Just in time for Friday’s “SEC Speaks” program (affectionately known as “SEC Spleaks” by alumni), Corp Fin has released a summary of significant issues addressed in its review of 10-Ks of the Fortune 500 companies. The Summary states that comment letters have been sent to more than 350 companies – and that the Staff is continuing to work with many companies as they respond to comments. This Summary is at http://www.sec.gov/divisions/corpfin/fortune500rep.htm.
The Summary is an objective, factual summary that concentrates on what the SEC staff sees as common deficiencies – staffers already are saying that they anticipate a similar review of “large” – but not necessarily the Fortune 500 – companies for next year, focusing on the same type of issues (i.e. revenue recognition, restructuring charges, liquidity) – as well as compliance with the new rules.
Following up on issues identified in its January 24th report to Congress on the state of the credit rating industry, the SEC approved a 4th credit rating agency yesterday. Canada’s Dominion Bond Rating Service now joins Moody’s, S&P and Fitch to rate debt in the US.
As noted in the SEC’s January 24th report, a lack of competition might be hurting the ability of investors to get the most timely and accurate ratings from these agencies. In about a month, the SEC expects to issue a concept release on the possible restructuring of how the credit rating industry is regulated. The SEC’s Jan. 24th report is at http://www.sec.gov/news/studies/credratingreport0103.pdf.
For TheCorporateCounsel.net subscribers, we have posted sample disclosures regarding corporate goverance in the proxy statement and how companies disclose SEC enforcement actions in our “Disclosure” practice area at http://www.thecorporatecounsel.net/member/Disclosure/.
As will be covered more completely in the upcoming issue of E-Minders, a union proponent has filed an appeal with the Commission over the exclusion of a shareholder proposal.The proposal would require Citigroup to include board nominees on its proxy card if such persons were nominated by shareholders that owned at least 3% of the company’s stock. Unlike the typical shareholder proposal, the Citigroup proposal would be binding as it seeks to amend the company’s by-laws.
The SEC is open…and Chairman Donaldson is on the job. Yesterday, the SEC posted its final rules on definition of “dealer” whereby it excluded banks for certain de minimus transactions – see http://www.sec.gov/rules/final/34-47364.htm.
For TheCorporateCounsel.net subscribers, we have conducted informal surveys of recent disclosures regarding disclosure controls and procedures – and posting reports on corporate websites – and analyzed the results. These results are in the “Disclosure” section of our “Practice Areas” at http://www.thecorporatecounsel.net/member/CriticalAccounting/.
Adding pressure on companies to voluntarily expense options, late last week, Ernst & Young became the first major accounting firm to reverse its position on expensing options.
In a letter to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, Ernst & Young stated that it strongly supported efforts by both the FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board to develop a method to ensure that “stock-based compensation is reflected in the financial statements of issuing enterprises.” For more information about E&Y’s position, see the NY Times article – “Ernst & Young Changes Mind on Options” from February 14th.
The SEC remains closed today due to bad weather…
On TheCorporateCounsel.net, we have posted an interview with David Lynn of Wilmer Cutler on CEO/CFO certifications – see http://www.thecorporatecounsel.net/member/InsideTrack/02_14_03_Lynn.htm.
Yesterday, the SEC released a draft of the upcoming EDGAR Filer manual – which contains information about the Online Forms website that will be used to accept filings for Forms 3, 4, & 5. The manual describes the process a user would go through to create and submit a form via their website.
Section 3 of the Draft Manual contains screen shots of the new SEC website that will be devoted to Section 16 filings – and what steps you will need to take to create the form. The Manual has an address for the SEC’s new website – https://www.onlineforms.edgarfiling.sec.gov – but I was unable to connect to it, so I assume it is not ready yet.
As expected, yesterday the Senate confirmed William Donaldson as SEC chair – its official…
For TheCorporateCounsel.net subscribers, in addition to our own SOX Scorecard, we have posted 8 other scorecards – they all are very handy and located under “Special Features” when you click on “Sarbanes-Oxley Scorecards.”