February 18, 2021
Corp Fin’s “No-Action” Page Gets a Makeover!
The SEC has redesigned Corp Fin’s Rule 14-8 no-action page – and the layout is very user-friendly for those of us who spend proxy season monitoring incoming requests & responses. The old page was more spread out in narrative form, whereas this new version organizes into easy-to-read boxes the no-action response chart, incoming requests and final materials for responses – as well as reference materials and info from prior seasons. Bravo!
Filing Relief for Texans: Case-By-Case, But Proceed With Caution
As a Minnesotan who relies heavily on heat & electricity during the winter months, I’ve been flabbergasted by this week’s dispatches from Texan friends & colleagues. We are keeping y’all in our thoughts and hoping your power is restored soon.
We’ve had some inquiries on whether the SEC is offering weather-related filing relief to companies located in the Lone Star State. A gracious member shared this info in our Q&A Forum (#10,619):
This is what I was told today by the SEC Staff (Office of Chief Counsel). By the way, I am in Austin and we have no water, over 48 hours no power and I am working from a phone hotspot/makeshift solar panel attached to batteries, so yes, it is truly a survivalist situation out here in Texas — I hope everyone is staying safe!
• The SEC is aware of the power grid failures/inclement weather and related challenges in Texas and wants to help issuers experiencing the effects of these challenges.
• If you are an issuer with a filing deadline that you cannot meet due to the situation in Texas, such as an 8-K or Section 16 filing, the SEC encourages you or your counsel to contact the SEC staff to make them aware of the situation (via firstname.lastname@example.org and follow-up with a call to the staff) and you can request a date adjustment of the filing per Rule 13(b) of Regulation S-T: “If an electronic filer in good faith attempts to file a document with the Commission in a timely manner but the filing is delayed due to technical difficulties beyond the electronic filer’s control, the electronic filer may request an adjustment of the filing date of such document. The Commission, or the staff acting pursuant to delegated authority, may grant the request if it appears that such adjustment is appropriate and consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors.” The filing should be made as soon as it is practicable to file and the staff can assist the issuer in adjusting the filing date afterwards.
• For the upcoming 10-K filing deadline (March 1 for LAFs), the SEC is monitoring the situation and *may* issue more broad filing relief (as it did last year around this time at the beginning of the COVID pandemic), but they will not make that call unless there are still issues going into next week and it believes that broad relief is warranted by the situation.
• In short, they are monitoring the situation but in the time being, they are only working with issuers on a case-by-case basis.
That being said, issuers may want to be judicious about requesting relief, because it might suggest that the company does not have sufficient contingency plans to continue normal operations during emergencies such as prolonged power outages. But the SEC will work with issuers who are experiencing a hardship.
More on “Proxy Season Blog”
As we enter the height of proxy season, make sure to follow our daily posts on the “Proxy Season Blog” – for TheCorporateCounsel.net members. Members can sign up to get that blog pushed out to them via email whenever there is a new entry by simply entering their email address on the left side of that blog. Here are some of the latest entries:
– Norges Urges Greater Board Gender Diversity, Focus for Engagement Meetings
– “How To’s” for Engaging with Proxy Advisors
– Virtual Shareholder Meetings: Fix For “Beneficial Owner” Admission Issues
– BMO’s ’21 Engagement Priorities: Sustainable Recovery
– Big QualityScore Changes: Ratings Now Include Info Security, Diversity & Sustainability
– Fidelity Policy Updates: “Against” Votes for Overboarding & Inadequate Gender Diversity
– Shareholder Proposals: Vanguard’s Approach
– Liz Dunshee