The Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued an interpretive release designed to reaffirm, and in some cases clarify, the standard of conduct that investment advisers owe to their clients. While the interpretive release includes no new regulation, it clarifies the type of disclosure, policies and procedures that advisers should adopt to ensure that they continue to operate in a manner that is consistent with their fiduciary obligations.
The Federal Department of Finance recently announced that it was activating the measures adopted by the Swiss Federal Council to protect the Swiss stock exchange infrastructure in anticipation of the expiration of the stock market equivalence granted by the European Commission. Notably, the protective measures do not affect companies with registered offices in Switzerland that are listed and traded exclusively on exchanges outside Switzerland.
The second half of 2018 was characterised by a sharp decrease in the number of equity and debt initial public offerings in Israel and a significant rise in bond yields. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) and the Israeli Securities Authority continue to promote various initiatives to encourage non-Israeli issuers to list on the TASE, including the publication of a bulletin clarifying the rules that apply to the public offering of securities, listing and delisting and ongoing disclosures by dual-listed companies.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently proposed amendments to the 'accelerated filer' and 'large accelerated filer' definitions adopted under the Securities Exchange Act 1934. The SEC believes that it can promote capital formation for smaller reporting issuers by more appropriately tailoring the types of issuer that are included and revising the transition thresholds for accelerated and large accelerated filers.
If everything goes according to plan, on 1 January 2020 Switzerland will have successfully overhauled its financial market legislation with the entry into force of the Financial Services Act and the Financial Institutions Act. An important element of the overhaul is the introduction of a new comprehensive and harmonised prospectus regime. However, the question remains as to whether non-public offerings as a species will survive in Switzerland.
Cabinet recently submitted a bill to the 198th session of the Diet to amend, among other acts, the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act and the Payment Services Act. Among other things, the amendments introduce new regulations for security-type digital tokens (ie, initial coin offerings and security token offerings) and clarify that digital tokens issued in consideration for crypto assets will be regarded as deemed securities.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently adopted rule amendments to modernise and simplify certain disclosure requirements in Regulation S-K and related rules and forms. These amendments were adopted pursuant to a 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) directive and are based in part on the SEC's report to congress under the FAST Act. The amendments will require issuers' immediate attention as they prepare for upcoming filings.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced settlements with 79 investment advisers who self-reported violations of the Investment Advisers Act in connection with the SEC Division of Enforcement Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative. The advisers collectively agreed to return more than $125 million in fees and prejudgment interest to clients.
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently proposed a rule and related amendments under the Securities Act that would permit issuers to engage in oral or written communications with potential investors that are, or are reasonably believed to be, qualified institutional buyers or institutional accredited investors, either prior to or following the filing of a registration statement, to determine whether such investors have an interest in a contemplated securities offering registered under the Securities Act.
In a recent interpretative letter, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) provided guidance to a registered broker-dealer as to the use of pre-inception index performance data relating to a proprietary index. The letter restates and updates FINRA's prior guidance as to the use of back-tested index information, including its historic position that the use of this type of information is inappropriate in communications provided to retail investors.
The stock market's flexibility is its greatest selling point for publicly traded companies, as it allows a fast flow of capital while still enabling majority shareholders to implement fundamental corporate changes should they wish to exit the market. However, even with all of this flexibility, shares may not always be free of other encumbrances, and the sale of such shares may be opposed by interested parties or even refused to be recognised as a genuine sale by the Trade Registry.
If a securities registration statement contains a material misstatement, investors that acquire securities through the relevant offering can hold the issuing company liable for related damages. However, it is unclear what level of damages is recoverable if the issuing company successfully proves that the loss incurred by the investor is at least partly attributable to an unrelated factor or circumstance. A recent Supreme Court judgment has provided some clarity in this regard.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently issued its 2019 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter. The letter addresses a variety of issues that all broker-dealers must address, whether they offer structured products or not. The letter clarifies that sales of complex products, including structured products, must be reviewed to see whether they comply with FINRA's suitability rules.
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently amended the Securities Exchange Act to implement Section 955 of the Dodd-Frank Act. Among other requirements, companies that are not foreign private issuers, listed closed-end investment companies, smaller reporting companies or emerging growth companies must now comply with the new hedging disclosure requirement in proxy or information statements with respect to the election of directors during fiscal years beginning on or after 1 July 2019.
The end of 2018 was notable for two Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement actions against private equity fund managers for violations of the Investment Advisers Act. The actions demonstrate the SEC's continued focus on private equity fund managers' use of operating partners or consultants and the particular issue of how the expenses of such operating partners or consultants are allocated.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Corporation Finance recently provided guidance for issuers regarding the approach that the division will take in processing filings, submissions and other requests for action by its staff. Issuers should carefully consider their plans with respect to registration statements, particularly given that it is possible that another government shutdown could commence if an appropriations bill funding the SEC's operations is not enacted prior to the current deadline.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently published its 2019 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter. Unlike previous letters, the 2019 letter focuses primarily on priorities that FINRA considers to be materially new. The first highlighted priority, online distribution platforms, will be of particular interest to the growing number of companies providing financial services through online platforms.
The Financial Services Authority recently issued a new regulation which provides a framework to establish the Securities Finance Agency (SFA). The agency aims to boost transaction volumes and liquidity in the Indonesian stock market, particularly by encouraging margin trading and short selling. Upon its establishment, the SFA will provide securities financing to brokerage firms.
The EU Prospectus Regulation's provisions concerning the format and content requirements for prospectuses will come into force on 1 July 2019. Ahead of the provisions, the European Securities and Markets Association intends to publish final draft guidelines on risk factors in early 2019. Issuers and their advisers will then need to ensure that they comply with the new regime in respect of any prospectuses to be published on or after 21 July 2019.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange recently found 600 websites guilty of illegally providing foreign exchange (FX) margin trading services. The high yields associated with such high-risk investments have led many countries to introduce strict regulations. In China, the financial regulatory authorities have clarified that no legal institutions can conduct FX margin trading business and that those who break the law in order to engage in such business may incur administrative or criminal penalties.