Wednesday, December 28, 2016

So long, Rule 505, We Barely Knew Ya'

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has repealed Rule 505 under Regulation D, effective May 22, 2017.

What is Rule 505, you might ask?  Exactly.  Rule 505 has been an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act") upon which virtually nobody has relied. And now it will soon be gone.

Overwhelmingly, issuers conducting private placements of securities have relied upon Rule 506 as the preferred exemption from the registration requirements under the Securities Act. Why? Because there are no dollar limits on the amounts that can be raised under Rule 506.  And because relying on Rule 506 has meant that state-level securities registration requirements were preempted. And if the issuer sold securities exclusively to accredited investors, there were no information disclosure requirements necessitating the preparation of a detailed private placement memorandum. Hence, Rule 506 offerings are generally quicker, easier, and less costly than a Rule 505 offering.

According to the SEC's final rule release abolishing Rule 505 (SEC Release 33-10238), less than 3% of the 132,091 Form Ds filed from 2009 to 2015 reporting private placements conducted under Regulation D were made in reliance on Rule 505.  And only 1.2% of the Form Ds in the study reported offerings exclusively under Rule 505 (as opposed to 1.7% of the offerings relying upon Rule 505 in addition to other rules under Regulation D).

In fact, in 2015, less than 1% of all new Regulation D offerings claimed an exemption under Rule 505.

And because Regulation 505 offerings are required by rule to be no more than $5 million in any 12 month period, the offerings have been smaller dollar-sized offerings, and thus Rule's 505 overall impact on our capital markets has been quite minor.  Securities offerings under Rule 504 and Rule 505 collectively accounted for less than 0.1% of all capital raised in Regulation D offerings from 2009 to 2015, according to the SEC release.  

In the same SEC final rule release, the SEC expanded the dollar limit for private placements made in reliance on Rule 504 in any 12 month period from $1 million to $5 million.  With that change, the SEC felt reliance on Rule 505 had become even less attractive to potential issuers of securities - so much so that Rule 505 had become obsolete.  

So Rule 505 will soon be abolished.  So long, Rule 505 - we barely knew ya'!

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