Monthly Archives: June 2016

June 17, 2016

Looming Death of Guide 7! SEC Proposes Update for Mining Companies

Yesterday, the SEC proposed rules – in this 296-page proposing release – to modernize the disclosure requirements for mining companies by killing Industry Guide 7 – and updating Item 102 of Regulation S-K to include all mining disclosure requirements in one S-K subpart. As noted in this press release, the proposal would:

– Provide one standard requiring registrants to disclose mining operations that are material to the company’s business or financial condition
– Require a registrant to disclose mineral resources and material exploration results in addition to its mineral reserves
– Permit disclosure of mineral reserves to be based on a preliminary feasibility study or a final feasibility study
– Provide updated definitions of mineral reserves and mineral resources
– Require, in tabular format, summary disclosure for a registrant’s mining operations as a whole as well as more detailed disclosure for material individual properties
– Require that every disclosure of mineral resources, mineral reserves and material exploration results reported in a registrant’s filed registration statements and reports be based on, and accurately reflect information and supporting documentation prepared by, a “qualified person”
– Require a registrant to obtain a technical report summary from the qualified person, which identifies and summarizes for each material property the information reviewed and conclusions reached by the qualified person about the registrant’s exploration results, mineral resources or mineral reserves

House Committee Passes Proxy Advisor Reform & Garrett Bill

As noted in this MoFo blog, the House Financial Services Committee passed a dozen bills yesterday – including the one on proxy advisor reform (“Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2016”) and the Garrett bill (“SEC Regulatory Accountability Act”) that I bashed two days ago. See this CII press release

For those that want to regulate proxy advisors out of business, be careful what you wish for

Conflict Minerals: EU “Political Understanding” Reached

As noted in this Elm Sustainability Partners piece, the European Commission announced two days ago that a “political understanding” has been reached on the European conflict minerals law. This means that the relevant political entities have agreed upon high level legal principles for the conflict minerals requirements for covered businesses in Europe. The technical and implementation details are to be developed in the future.

Also see this piece noting that nearly 1200 companies filed a Form SD by the June 1st deadline…

Broc Romanek

June 16, 2016

House’s “Financial Choice Act”: Enough to Choke a Horse

No sooner do I blog about a House bill that would make it challenging for the SEC to conduct any rulemaking, than Cooley’s Cydney Posner blogs about an executive summary of the “Financial Choice Act” – which would require the SEC to conduct rulemaking to dismantle nearly all of the corporate governance rules that the SEC has adopted under Dodd-Frank over the last six years.

The kicker is that all of this repealing isn’t in the executive summary (and the full bill isn’t public yet); rather the executive summary just says “repeal non-material specialized disclosures.” You can’t make this stuff up! But Cydney’s blog notes that Cooley’s “Government Analytics Practice Group” dug in to uncover what is behind the bill’s executive summary:

– Repeal specialized public company disclosures for conflict minerals, extractive industries and mine safety (Dodd-Frank Title XV)
– Expand the Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 404(b) exemption for non-accelerated filers to include issuers with up to $250 million in market capitalization (up from the current threshold of $75 million) or $1 billion in assets for banks (Dodd-Frank Section 989G).
– Repeal the burdensome mandate that publicly traded companies disclose the ratio of median vs. CEO pay (Dodd-Frank Section 953(b))
– Repeal the SEC’s authority to further restrict the ability to engage in legitimate securities short selling (Dodd-Frank Section 929X)
– Amend the mandate on public companies to provide shareholders with a vote on executive compensation to occur only when the company has made a material change to the executive compensation package (Dodd-Frank Section 951).
– In the event of certain financial restatements, hold bad actors responsible by limiting ‘clawbacks’ of compensation to the current or former executive officers of a public company who had control or authority over the company’s financial reporting (Dodd-Frank Section 954).
– To reduce the burdens on emerging growth and smaller reporting companies, repeal the reporting requirement for public companies regarding employee or board member hedging of equity securities granted as compensation (Dodd-Frank Section 955).
– Repeal federal financial regulators’ ability to prohibit types and features of incentive-based compensation arrangements (Dodd-Frank Section 956).
– Repeal the SEC’s authority to issue rules on proxy access (Dodd-Frank Section 971).
– Repeal the SEC’s authority to issue rules to require disclosures regarding Chairman and CEO structures (Dodd-Frank Section 972).

As Cydney notes in her blog, it wouldn’t quite repeal all of Dodd-Frank’s corporate governance provisions – pay-for-performance would still be on the books. The bill would also incorporate about a dozen bills that are floating around in the House these days – and would “streamline” the SEC’s Enforcement Division process so that individuals received “fair treatment.” Cydney writes:

According to the NYT, the bill “has little chance of passing Congress this year.” And, even if it did, President Obama still holds the veto pen, at least until January. Nevertheless, Speaker Ryan has encouraged his Republican brethren to develop affirmative policies and programs, and, as the NYT suggests, this bill “may influence the presidential debate and help shape the Republican agenda in the next term.”

FASB’s New Lease Accounting: Most Companies Not Ready Yet

As noted in this memo, a webcast poll by Deloitte indicates that fewer than 10% of accounting professionals say their companies are ready for the FASB’s new lease accounting standards. They cited the top two challenges as collecting the necessary data in all organizational leases in a centralized, electronic repository – and instituting reporting processes to evaluate quarterly adjustments for the balance sheet. Of the 5,400 respondents, only 15% said they expect compliance to be easy.

Gender Pay Gap Becomes a Proxy Season Issue

Here’s an excerpt from this blog by Davis Polk’s Ning Chiu:

The White House recently announced an initiative by 28 companies that have pledged to conduct annual gender pay analysis, similar to a shareholder proposal this proxy season that received a fair amount of press attention. Arjuna Capital sent proposals to nine major technology companies, including Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Intel and Microsoft, asking them to prepare reports on their policies and goals to reduce the gender pay gap. This was defined as the difference between male and female earnings expressed as a percentage of male earnings. According to the proposal, the median income for working women is 78% that of their male counterparts.

The SEC staff denied several companies’ initial efforts to exclude the proposal on the basis of vagueness. At one company where the proposal went to a vote, it received 51% support in favor, highly unusual for a social proposal. Nearly all of the other companies got the proposal withdrawn by the proponent after they agreed to provide information on their gender pay differences. Those that already reported stated that there is no pay gap, or a very negligible gap, between men and women who work at the same job-grade level. Some companies included salary and stock while others excluded stock. Exact methodologies were generally not provided. Two companies released their information to coincide with National Equal Pay Day (April 12).

Although almost all of the press has been favorable in light of the results, some in the media criticized the companies for obscuring the types of jobs women tend to work, finding that men are more likely to hold higher-paying tech positions. In addition, women make up around a quarter or less of the senior leadership at these companies.

Broc Romanek

June 15, 2016

SEC Rulemaking: Garrett Bill Is Brutal

Ever since the SEC – and other federal agencies – have been required to conduct more cost-benefit analyses in the wake of the proxy access court decision in 2011, the pace of rulemaking certainly has slowed – despite a huge ramp up in the size of the SEC’s relatively new Division of Economic & Risk Analysis (Risk Fin).

Things might get worse before they get better. As highlighted in this CII letter, a House bill from Rep. Garrett – the “SEC Regulatory Accountability Act” (HR 5429) – includes provisions that could really paralyze the SEC’s ability to adopt new rules or modify old ones. For example, the bill would require the SEC to revisit a rule within one year of it’s passage – and then every five years after that.

On its face, I know this sounds reasonable – but it would require more resources than you think to undertake this task. Resources that the SEC doesn’t have. Remember that the SEC already is conducting extensive cost-benefit analyses, etc. And bear in mind that all of this doesn’t protect us from stupid laws that Congress passes that requires the SEC to adopt stupid new rules. The bulk of the rulemaking conducted by the SEC over the past decade has been mandated by Congress. So if Congress has a beef with the rules that the SEC is adopting, it should look in the mirror…

Regulation A+: States Lose Challenge In DC Circuit Court

Yesterday, as noted in this blog and this blog, the states of Montana and Massachusetts lost their challenge to the SEC’s adoption of Regulation A+ in the DC Circuit court – as was expected…

Political Contribution: Still a Live Wire for Senate Democrats

Yesterday, SEC Chair White testified before the Senate Banking Committee about the SEC’s oversight obligations. You might recall that two Commissioner nominees still remain to be confirmed – mainly because some Senate Democrats are angry that the nominees wouldn’t commit to adopting rules on disclosing political contributions as noted in this blog.

Anyway, the hearing yesterday produced some fireworks as Senator Schumer & Warren criticized Chair White for removing political spending disclosure from the Reg Flex Agenda – and for launching the disclosure effectiveness project (see this blog). In fact, my blog about the Reg Flex Agenda being “aspirational” even made it into this MarketWatch article that describes the testy exchange.

Great quote from the MarketWatch piece – White to Warren: ‘I am disappointed in your disappointment.’

Broc Romanek

June 14, 2016

Free Stock! Did T-Mobile Say “Free Stock”?

Free stock! As noted in this Wired article, loyal T-Mobile customer may be eligible for a share of free stock starting last Tuesday if they refer a new customer (two shares if they’ve been a customer for 5 years). Here’s T-Mobile’s prospectus for this “Stock Up Rewards Plan.”

Free stock as a marketing ploy for companies with loyal customer bases is not exactly new – a few existed even before the Internet (eg. Dr. Pepper did one in the early ’80s). But they are rare – and for good reason. These FAQs that I drafted long ago lay out some of the concerns (and here’s a WaPo article about potential tax issues – and an old WilmerHale memo about the SEC cracking down on freebie offerings).

A prime example of unexpected problems comes from the first online free stock offering, which was conducted by in April 1998. Reportedly, the company subsequently had difficulty locating the people who received free stock when it sought to conduct an exchange offer – primarily because the only contact information it had for many stockholders was e-mail addresses (many of which had changed and didn’t have forwarding information).

Interestingly, Loyal3 is helping to administer this freebie stock promotion for T-Mobile. As you might recall from this blog, Loyal3 is the entity that has been helping companies to create “Customer Stock Ownership Plans” – these are plans that run through on an app for your smart phone, tablet, etc. This is an alternative solution to giving away the stock for free…

Here’s other innovative stuff from the ’90s: Spring Street Brewing, Wit Beer (Wit Capital), tracking stock, David Bowie bonds, SOES bandits, online brokers and Pearl Jam!

XBRL: SEC Announces “Inline XBRL”

Yesterday, the SEC announced that it will allow companies to voluntarily file structured financial statement data in a format known as “Inline XBRL.” From what I gather from the SEC’s press release, this will enable filers to use XBRL in their HTML filings rather than be forced to file their XBRL as an exhibit to a filing. It’s supposed to reduce costs & improve the quality of filings…

Transcript: “Legal Opinions – The Hot Issues”

We have posted the transcript for our recent webcast: “Legal Opinions: The Hot Issues.” This was a great & highly informative program!

Broc Romanek

June 13, 2016

Revenue Recognition: How to Prepare Transition Disclosure

Hat tip to Steve Quinlivan for pointing out this speech by SEC Deputy Chief Accountant Wes Bricker last Thursday that contains his views about transition disclosure as the effectiveness of the new revenue recognition standard nears. Here’s an excerpt from Wes’ speech:

Speaking of disclosures, the SEC staff has long advised that a registrant should provide transition disclosures to investors of the impact that a recently issued accounting standard will have on its financial statements when that standard is adopted in a future period.

The preparation of the transition disclosures should be subject to effective ICFR and disclosure controls and procedures. As management completes portions of its implementation plan and develops an assessment of the anticipated impact the standard will have on the company’s financial statements, internal and disclosure controls should be designed and implemented to timely identify relevant disclosure content from the implementation assessments and to ensure, where necessary, that appropriately informative disclosure is made.

Investors should expect the level of transition disclosures to increase as a company progresses in its implementation plans and, when necessary, engage with company management to understand these disclosures.

Tomorrow’s Webcast: “Proxy Season Post-Mortem – The Latest Compensation Disclosures”

Tune in tomorrow for the webcast – “Proxy Season Post-Mortem: The Latest Compensation Disclosures” – to hear Mark Borges of Compensia, Dave Lynn of and Morrison & Foerster, Ron Mueller of Gibson Dunn analyze what was (and what was not) disclosed this proxy season.

Yates Memo: Counterproductive Impact?

Here’s an excerpt from this blog by Kevin LaCroix that analyzes this new research from the Chamber of Commerce:

Individual actors “may find their own legal interests to be at odds with those of the company’s.” This dynamic could lead to “an ‘every man for himself’ mindset within the company.” Junior employees may refuse to cooperate, at least without their own legal representation. Other may decide to secure their own attorneys, without going through corporate channels.

These impacts could add complexity, expense and delay to the company’s efforts to complete its investigation in order to receive cooperation credit. Perhaps even more importantly, these factors could have a “chilling effect” on the company’s ability to fully investigate and develop the full factual record needed to secure cooperation credit. The upshot could be that in the end this internal dynamic could “impede the corporation’s ability to perform what is intended by the Yates memo – to gather facts and report to the Department any individuals engaged in wrongdoing.” Rather than allowing the agency to leverage a corporation’s access to information, “the Yates Memo’s impact is likely to have the opposite effect.”

Broc Romanek

June 10, 2016

The First Form 1-Ks Are Filed!

Hat tip to Bjorn Hall of Fundrise for letting me know that the Fundrise Real Estate Investment Trust, LLC (which they lovingly call the “Income eREIT”) filed the first-ever “Annual Report on Form 1-K” back in late April. Under Rule 257(b)(1) of Regulation A, Form 1-K is the annual report now required to be filed by Tier 2 companies that conducted their offerings under Regulation A+. The form is due within 120 calendar days of fiscal year covered by the report. Only Tier 2 companies are required to file a Form 1-K, one of trade-offs for not having to register with the states. Since Fundrise made their filing back in late April, there have been four other Form 1-Ks filed.

And as noted in this blog, the OTC Markets has filed a rulemaking petition with the SEC to open Regulation A+ to reporting issuers..

When I served in Corp Fin in the mid-90s, I was tasked for a while with reviewing novel products created by investment banks. Back then, that was handled out of one of the normal Operations groups – now that is done under Amy Starr’s “Office of Capital Market Trends.” Anyway, I wound up looking at some weird stuff and found out that there is even something called a “Form 1” filed with the SEC. That is the form that stock exchanges file to be registered with the SEC as an exchange…

ISS Responds to Proposed Proxy Advisor Legislation

Last week, I blogged about a statement from Glass Lewis about the proposed House bill that would enhance proxy advisor oversight. Now Ning Chiu has blogged about a statement from ISS on the proposed bill…

Dodd-Frank Repeal: Details of the “Financial CHOICE Act”

On Monday, I blogged about the efforts by the GOP in Congress to repeal Dodd-Frank. As laid out in this blog, the details of the “Financial CHOICE Act” have been unveiled by House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling.

See this report about the revolving door between the staff of the House Financial Services committee and the financial industry…

Broc Romanek

June 9, 2016

More on “Non-GAAP Measures: How They Boost CEO Bonuses”

With our webcast coming up this morning regarding “Non-GAAP Disclosures: What Is Permissible?” – here’s a note from a member commenting on this WSJ article that I blogged about yesterday:

– It is extremely rare for any company to use GAAP earnings for bonus calculation purposes (word searching “non-GAAP” probably missed the other 42% of companies that refer to adjusted EPS, adjusted revenue, etc.).

– Most incentive plan targets are based on operating results, which is why it is common to exclude non-operating items – like FX or asset impairments – from the bonus calculation. It is also common for some industries to exclude non-cash expenses, like equity compensation expense.

– Agree that some items should not be excluded from GAAP results when calculating incentive payouts – and there is typically a very rigorous process that management and the compensation committee use to evaluate what to exclude.

– Lay-off expenses are mentioned as an example of a bad adjustment to GAAP results for incentive plan purposes. If you are the board, would you want to provide management with a financial incentive to delay a lay-off or plant closure until next year to avoid a reduction in the current year’s bonus? I can think of many examples where the entire industry faced excess capacity and closing facilities was not anticipated at the beginning of the year. Most boards would want the management team to get out in front on an issue like that – and would be happy to reward them for doing so, rather than create a financial penalty. I recognize that paying big bonuses to management during large layoffs is not a good practice and should be avoided.

– Agree that if management wants relief from FX headwinds one year, they need to exclude FX tailwinds in future years.

FINRA Proposes Changes to Communications Rules

As noted in this memo, FINRA recently filed proposed revisions to its communications rules with the SEC that include a few substantive revisions to existing rules, eases some burdensome filing requirements and leaves the door open for future changes…

Sights & Sounds: “Women’s 100 Conference ’16”

This 1-minute video captures the sights & sounds of the “Women’s 100” events that just wrapped up in DC and Palo Alto:

Broc Romanek

June 8, 2016

Tomorrow’s Webcast: “Non-GAAP Disclosures – What Is Permissible?”

Tune in tomorrow for the webcast – “Non-GAAP Disclosures: What Is Permissible?” – to hear Meredith Cross of WilmerHale; Brink Dickerson of Troutman Sanders; Steven Jacobs of E&Y; and Dave Lynn of and Morrison & Foerster provide practical guidance about what to do now with your non-GAAP disclosures given Corp Fin’s new & revised CDIs and the attention being paid to them by the SEC, media and investors. It’s at a special time – 11 am eastern. The audio archive will be posted directly after the live program is over – and a transcript will be posted about 10 days later. The agenda includes:

A. Analysis of CDIs
1. Problematic misleading measures – adjustments, period-over-period inconsistency, offsets
2. Revenue
3. Prominence – when presenting a non-GAAP measure, present most directly comparable GAAP measure with equal or greater prominence
4. Reconciliation of forward-looking measures if available without “unreasonable efforts”
5. Free cash flow
6. Per share measures including FFO
7. Income tax effects related to adjustments

B. What to Do Now
1. What might be expected from Corp Fin during the comment process going forward
2. How hard should you push back on Corp Fin comments
3. What should be considered when rethinking whether to continue disclosing certain non-GAAP financial measures
4. How to monitor what other companies are doing – and not doing
5. What is the real SEC enforcement risk

This Cooley blog summarizes a WSJ article that lays out the increasing prevalence of non-GAAP measures in proxy statements…

Non-GAAP Measures: How They Boost CEO Bonuses

Here’s an excerpt from this WSJ article:

But these adjusted metrics aren’t just showing up in earnings releases. Pro forma figures have been proliferating in annual proxy statements, too. There, when used with compensation metrics, they can help executives draw bigger pay packets. Research firm Audit Analytics finds that the term “non-GAAP” appeared in 58% of proxies for companies in the S&P 500 that have released them so far this year. Five years ago, that term showed up in 27% of proxies for current S&P 500 constituents.

There is nothing improper about using non-GAAP measures as long as they are disclosed properly. And corporate boards decide on the measures they want to use for compensation purposes. Plus, there is an argument to be made for sometimes excluding items from results for compensation purposes. If, say, a natural disaster hits a company with expensive repairs, perhaps an adjustment is in order. But other items that often get excluded in pro forma results, such as layoff-related charges, do seem like a reflection of management’s performance. And boards have too often shown a willingness to set awfully low bars for executives to clear.

That, though, can disadvantage shareholders and wreck the idea of pay for performance. In that vein, the dramatic rise in the number of companies using pro forma measures to determine bonuses would indicate the balance between shareholders and executives is being skewed in executives’ favor. Indeed, an examination of the most recent proxy statements from companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average shows about a dozen of the index’s 30 constituents had annual pro forma earnings well in excess of GAAP ones and used the pro forma ones in annual bonus calculations.

Poll: Non-GAAP Numbers In Headlines (Without the GAAP)

Corp Fin’s new CDIs touch on the prominence of non-GAAP numbers in the headlines of earnings releases – and some members tell me that’s what they were already advising their clients to do for quite some time. Yet, there are many examples of contrary conduct. Here’s an anonymous poll about what you’ve been advising:

survey hosting

Broc Romanek

June 7, 2016

Our New “Stock Buybacks Handbook”

Spanking brand new. By popular demand, this comprehensive “Stock Buybacks Handbook” covers the entire terrain, from Rule 10b-18 and Regulation M to Rule 10b5-1 and Item 703 of Regulation S-K. This one is a real gem – 83 pages of practical guidance – and its posted in our “Buybacks” Practice Area.

Transcript: “Company Buybacks: Best Practices”

We have posted the transcript for our recent webcast: “Company Buybacks – Best Practices.”

Buybacks: Do Investors Think Companies Execute Them At Optimal Price?

Recently, Dave Bobker shared some of the interesting 360 research they are doing at Rivel Research Group regarding buybacks. One question they asked buy-side investors is: “what percentage of the time do companies execute buybacks at an optimal price?” For the US, 52% of investors said that buybacks were executed optimally 20-49% of the time; 25% said less than 20% of the time; 15% said a majority or more of the time. And 7% said they were uncertain. Globally, it was believed that 31% of time was executed optimally. Not that great a perception.

Rivel also asked investors about what type of message it sends when a company announces a buyback. The findings can be summarized as:

– To the global buy-side, announcing a buyback is an unambiguous signal that a company believes its stock is undervalued.
– It is also a sign to many (about one in four) that management has few strategic options at its disposal for using the excess cash on the balance sheet.
– Only rarely is it seen as being implemented purely as a reward to shareholders or to enhance shareholder value.

By the way, this WSJ article talks about “return on invested capital” (aka ROIC) as a way to better measure how a company is doing with its strategic planning – and here’s a McKinsey piece about how buybacks boost earnings without improving returns…

Shareholder Proposals: Buybacks & Executive Pay

With criticism about the impact of buybacks on executive compensation in the news, it appears that the AFL-CIO & other investors are sending shareholder proposals to some companies on this topic. Here’s an excerpt from this Cooley blog:

Now, the AFL-CIO and others are beginning to take steps to eliminate what they view as one of the motivations for buybacks — or at least one of the side effects. For 2016, the AFL-CIO (and entities apparently acting on its behalf) has submitted a new shareholder proposal asking companies to adjust executive pay metrics to exclude the impact of stock buybacks. According to this AFL-CIO publication, the proposals were submitted this year at IBM, Illinois Tool Works, 3M and Xerox.

Generally, the shareholder proposal urges the target companies’ compensation committees to “adopt a policy that financial performance metrics shall be adjusted, to the extent practicable, to exclude the impact of share repurchases when determining the amount or vesting of any senior executive incentive compensation grant or award. The policy should be implemented in a way that does not violate existing contractual obligations or the terms of any plan.”

The proponent contends that buybacks directly affect many of the financial ratios used as performance metrics, but, while they may boost stock prices in the short term, the proponent is “concerned that they can deprive companies of capital necessary for creating long term growth.” The proponent believes that, because senior executives are responsible for improving operational performance, “senior executives should not receive larger pay packages simply for reducing the number of shares outstanding. Executive pay should be aligned with operational results, not financial engineering.”

The proponent also asserts that, for “the 12 months ended June 30, 2015, S&P 500 companies spent more money on stock buybacks and dividends than they earned in profits.” In addition, the proponent looks to the chair and CEO of BlackRock, who urged that “[l]arge stock buybacks send ‘a discouraging message about a company’s ability to use its resources wisely and develop a coherent plan to create value over the long term.’” In each case, the proponent compares the amount spent on stock buybacks with the amounts spent on R&D and capital expenditures. For example, for Illinois Toolworks, according to the proponent, the company “spent $2.9 billion on share buybacks in 2014, but only $227 million on research and development, and $361 million on capital expenditures.” The proponent also identifies the CEO’s comp and the amount received in awards that are dependent on financial metrics that are susceptible to being goosed by stock buybacks.

Among the arguments made in the companies’ various statements in opposition are that the companies are committed to organic growth through capital expenditures and research and development and that they have capital allocation strategies designed to create growth opportunities through investment and to return excess capital to shareholders, that their boards assess their capital requirements to ensure that there is sufficient capital for investment for future growth, that performance metrics are designed by compensation committees (which, they contend, are in the best position to make these determinations) to align pay and performance, that among the metrics is typically an organic growth metric and that limiting the companies’ ability to use appropriate performance metrics is not in the best interests of the companies or their shareholders.

Buybacks aren’t just on the radar of hedge funds and governance activists – the SEC is paying attention too. The possibility of more frequent buyback disclosures was one of the more surprising topics raised by the SEC’s concept release on Regulation S-K, as I blogged about recently.

Broc Romanek

June 6, 2016

The S-K Concept Release: Read the CliffsNotes Version

When I blogged about the “12 Most Surprising (or Scary) Things About the S-K Concept Release” a month ago, I ran a poll asking how many folks have read – or intended to read – the 341-page monster. The poll revealed that 12% had read it – and 27% intended to. Thus, it’s not surprising perhaps that not as many law firms have written memos about the thing than might be expected.

But good news! In addition to the March-April issue of The Corporate Counsel print newsletter that was completely devoted to the topic, you can read this nice 20-page memo that mainly consists of an appendix that really gets to the heart of the concept release and be fairly informed…

I had no idea that it was spelled “CliffsNotes” – I’ve always said “Cliff notes.” Did you know that ‘Cliff’ had an ‘s’ after it? Anyway, that proves that I never cut corners when I was a kid 😄…

Congress: The Latest Effort to Replace Dodd-Frank

Here’s the intro of this WSJ article by Donna Borak & Andrew Ackerman:

A top Republican financial policy maker in Congress has crafted a plan to repeal key provisions of postcrisis regulations enacted under President Barack Obama, according to a draft summary of the bill seen by The Wall Street Journal. The legislation will revoke the ability of regulators to designate firms as “systemically important,” a controversial power that has allowed officials to impose stringent new rules and oversight on big financial firms that fall outside the traditional authority of the government.

The bill crafted by the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee would also unwind other key provisions of the landmark 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul act. It would scrap the so-called Volcker Rule, which bans banks from making bets with taxpayer-insured deposits, and would impose new limits on the powers of the director of the five-year-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The long-awaited legislation, called the Financial Choice Act, will outline seven broad initiatives proposed by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who plans to describe the plan Tuesday in a speech in New York. The full bill won’t be released until the following week.

The bill has no chance of becoming law this year, with Democrats in the Senate likely to block it, and Mr. Obama certain to veto it if it came to his desk. But the details are significant as they help define the Republican agenda for financial regulation, should the party win control of the White House in November. Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has said he would try to repeal Dodd-Frank, but hasn’t given any details about what his plan would look like. Mr. Hensarling’s bill helps fill in some of the blanks of how a Republican-led government would likely proceed.

The ALJ Battle: Drawing to a Close?

Last week, the Second Circuit – in Tilton v. SEC – joined the recent Seventh and DC Circuit decisions (Bebo v. SEC and Jarkesy v. SEC) by finding that constitutional challenges to the SEC’s administrative law judge proceedings can’t go forward in court until those proceedings are done. In other words, a court review can only be sought as an appeal from a final decision by an ALJ.

The Eleventh Circuit now is the last court out there with a pending case (Hill v. SEC) that could possibly create a circuit split – so it looks unlikely that the Supreme Court would decide to weigh in. I’ve posted memos on the Tilton & other decisions in our “SEC Enforcement” Practice Area

Broc Romanek