September 10, 2020

Corp Fin Disclosure Guidance: Expiring Confidential Treatment Requests

Last December, Corp Fin issued CF Disclosure Guidance Topic No. 7, which addresses the procedures for submitting a “traditional” confidential treatment request (i.e., one that doesn’t take advantage of the streamlined procedures for redacting confidential information in exhibits that were put into place last year). Yesterday, Corp Fin updated that guidance to address alternatives for handling expiring confidential treatment requests.

In essence, the updated guidance gives a company with an expiring CTR three alternatives: it may refile the unredacted exhibit, extend the confidential period pursuant to Rules 406 or 24b-2, or transition to the rules governing the filing of redacted exhibits under Regulation S-K Item 601.  The guidance walks companies through the procedural steps involved with each of these alternatives.

Enforcement: SEC Brings Action for Failing to Deliver Final Prospectus

Here’s something you don’t see every day – last week, the SEC brought settled enforcement actions against an issuer and an underwriter for failing to deliver final prospectuses in connection with various shelf takedowns. Here’s an excerpt from the SEC’s press release announcing the proceedings:

The SEC’s orders find that NFS and FuelCell violated the prospectus delivery provisions of Section 5(b) of the Securities Act of 1933. The order charging NFS finds that it violated the underwriter prospectus delivery provisions of Securities Act Rule 173, and failed reasonably to supervise the traders that sold the FuelCell securities within the meaning of Section 15(b)(4)(E) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Section 203(e)(6) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, NFS and FuelCell have agreed to cease and desist from committing or causing any future violations of the charged provisions. In addition, NFS has agreed to be censured and has agreed to disgorge $797,905 in commissions, pay prejudgment interest of $163,288, and pay a penalty of $1,500,000. The SEC’s order against FuelCell recognized the company’s cooperation and self-report, both of which the SEC considered in determining not to impose a penalty against the company.

The genesis of the problem appears to have been the company’s failure to file 424(b) prospectuses in connection with its ATM offerings. That in turn led to violations of Section 5 by both the company and its underwriter. Their misfortune is our gain, however, because the SEC’s orders are a primer on the prospectus delivery requirement and the interplay between the statute and the rules governing the filing and delivery of the final prospectus.

I know from my own experience and from our Q&A Forum that there’s not a lot out there that ties all of these requirements together – and these orders do. Here’s the NFS order and here’s the FuelCell order.

By the way, I missed this enforcement action when it was first announced, but fortunately Ann Lipton flagged a Bloomberg Law article on it on her Twitter feed. If you practice corporate or securities law and you don’t follow Ann on social media, you’re making a big mistake. As my cousins from Maine would say, she’s “wicked smaht” & she posts all the time. You’ll learn a lot from her.

Wu-Tang Clan: Shkreli Shaolin Saga Coming to Netflix

We haven’t checked in on America’s most entrepreneurial hip-hop artists in some time, but the Wu-Tang Clan is back in the Business section of the paper again. It seems that Netflix is making a movie about the saga of fraudster Martin Shkreli, his $2 million purchase of the group’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” album & his subsequent bizarre & convoluted beef with the Wu-Tang Clan. Here’s an excerpt from this article:

There were seemingly endless twists and turns in the Shkreli/Wu-Tang saga, many of them diligently chronicled at this very website. Now, as Collider reports, the narrative will become the basis for a movie to be released via Netflix, also titled Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. Paul Downs Colaizzo (Brittany Runs A Marathon) will direct the film based on a script by Ian Edelman (How To Make It In America). Wu-Tang ringleader and longtime filmmaker RZA is producing the movie in cooperation with Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B. The story reportedly follows the auction for the album and its messy aftermath.

Speaking of RZA, here’s an interview with him in which he discusses the concept behind the Shaolin album, as well as his regrets about how it ended up in the hands of an “evil villain.” Check out our “Wu-Tang Clan” Practice Area for more Wu-Tang news.

John Jenkins