Last month, we published a blog post explaining the basis for our view that Regulation G does not require a GAAP reconciliation when M&A disclosure documents present the management projections used by financial advisors to opine on the financial fairness of merger consideration.  We argued that these projections are not the type of information that Regulation G was adopted to police and that, in view of the bases in Delaware case law and Regulation M-A for including disclosure of these projections, they should be considered exempt from the reconciliation requirements of Regulation G and Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K.  Accordingly, we urged the SEC staff to provide guidance confirming our view.   Continue Reading New SEC Interpretation Helps Limit Reg G as an Enabler of Merger Litigation

On September 12, 2017, Governance Watch and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP hosted a panel discussion on “Recent Whistleblower Issues.”  Participants in the panel discussion included Matthew Solomon, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb and former Chief Litigation Counsel at the SEC’s Division of Enforcement; Emily Pasquinelli, Deputy Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower; David Huntley, Chief Compliance Officer of AT&T; and Steven Durham, a Partner at Labaton Sucharow LLP who specializes in plaintiffs-side whistleblower representations.  The panelists discussed issues critical to U.S. public companies and foreign private issuers relating to federal whistleblower programs.  Below are the key takeaways from the discussion. Continue Reading Recent Whistleblower Issues: Key Takeaways from the Conference Board’s Governance Watch Webcast

On September 21, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued helpful guidance to assist companies in complying with the CEO/median employee pay ratio disclosure requirement (the “Rule”) under Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and Item 402(u) of Regulation S-K. The guidance also addresses the issue of SEC enforcement action in respect of pay ratio disclosure.

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Last year Cleary Gottlieb published a blog post and an alert memorandum highlighting the SEC staff’s renewed focus on whether the use of non-GAAP financial measures (NGFMs) by domestic registrants complies with the requirements of Regulation G.  Recently, a number of plaintiff-stockholders of target companies in M&A transactions have brought purported class actions in federal court alleging that the “Forecasts” section in M&A disclosure documents violates Regulation G.  In support of these M&A disclosure related claims, plaintiffs have been citing our post and memo about these SEC staff initiatives, which relate to earnings releases and periodic reports, even though our prior publications did not address the application of Regulation G to M&A disclosure documents. Continue Reading Setting the Record Straight: Regulation G Does Not Apply to Non-GAAP Financial Projections in M&A Transactions

The Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) recently sent a warning to the burgeoning market for initial coin offerings (“ICOs”): assets that exist only on the blockchain may be securities subject to registration, anti-fraud and other requirements under the U.S. federal securities laws.  The outcome of the SEC’s analysis was unsurprising, representing a reasonably straightforward application of longstanding securities law principles.  However, the SEC’s discussion left several key questions and potential paths forward for ICO issuers and other participants in the ICO marketplace to consider. Continue Reading Open Questions and Potential Paths Forward Following the SEC’s Analysis of Digital Assets as Securities

On June 15, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) entered an order (the “Order”) instituting cease-and-desist proceedings against the former CEO and CFO (the “Respondents”) of UTi Worldwide Inc. (the “Company”)[1]. The Respondents each agreed to pay a civil money penalty of $40,000 to settle the proceeding, which found that they caused the Company to violate Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), by failing to comply with the requirement of Regulation S-K Item 303 that it disclose “any known trends or uncertainties that will result in or that are reasonably likely to result in the registrant’s liquidity increasing or decreasing in any material way.”[2] Continue Reading Trend Disclosure Under S-K 303: How Far Does the Eye Have to See?

In 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued ASU 2016-01, which adopts a new standard that will require companies to generally change the way they account for equity investments of less than 20%. Continue Reading Accounting for Minority Equity Investments: A Small Change with Significant Implications

On April 27, a civil FCPA litigation against three former executives of a Hungarian telecommunications company officially came to a close after more than five years of contentious litigation in the Southern District of New York when Judge Richard Sullivan approved the settlements of the last two defendants and entered judgment in the matter.  The case alleged that three former executives of Magyar Telekom, Plc., a Hungarian telecommunications company, participated in a scheme between 2004 and 2006 to bribe public officials in Macedonia in order to secure favorable treatment for Magyar’s Macedonian subsidiary.  All three defendants were foreign nationals working for an overseas company; the charged conduct took place exclusively on foreign soil; and the defendants continue to reside overseas. Continue Reading SEC, Hungarian Executives Settle 5-Year FCPA Suit that Generated Government-Friendly Rulings on Threshold Legal Issues

Several sources have reported that Acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar recently issued a directive mandating that only the Acting Director of the Division of Enforcement can authorize the issuance of formal orders of investigation, the means by which the SEC authorizes its investigative staff to issue subpoenas.[1]  The change—which reportedly strips approximately 20 Enforcement Division senior officers of the power to authorize formal orders—was not announced publicly and is not reflected in the SEC’s Enforcement Manual.

Continue Reading Acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar Takes Steps to Centralize the Process of Issuing Formal Orders – Are Commentators Drawing the Right Lessons?

The review of financial regulation under the new administration has its first victim.  On February 3, the Senate passed a resolution under the Congressional Review Act that disapproves the SEC’s rule on resource extraction payments. The House of Representatives had already passed the resolution, so the SEC’s rule is no longer in effect.

The target of the joint resolution is a rule requiring each SEC reporting company engaged in commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals to file annual disclosures on payments it makes to governments.  The rule has already had a tortured history, which left it vulnerable to action under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Continue Reading Congress Rolls Back SEC Resource Extraction Payments Rule