October 1-2, 2018

PLI California Center
685 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

This program is specifically designed for in-house and law firm attorneys and other professionals who work with financial information. It will enhance understanding of business strategies, accounting fundamentals and vocabulary used by management, investors, auditors and bankers. Practical advice and application of information to actual situations and financial reports will provide participants with opportunities to immediately implement growth and broaden capabilities.

Partner Anna T. Pinedo will lead a panel discussion titled “Investment Banking Basics: Fundamentals of Capital Structures” on Day One of the program. Topics will include:

  • Common financing alternatives — debt, equity and hybrids;
  • Sources of funding — public and private markets;
  • Liquidity — raising and deploying capital;
  • Finding the Optimal Capital Structure; and
  • Current marketplace developments.

PLI will provide CLE credit.

For more information, or to register, please visit the event website.

In a recent paper titled, “Voluntary Disclosure and Firm Visibility: Evidence from Firms Pursuing an Initial Public Offering,” authors Michael Dambra, Bryce Schonberger, and Charles Wasley review the benefits of pre-IPO press releases and investor meetings. Based on a sample of 569 IPOs undertaken from 2004 to 2014, the median IPO company issues two press releases in the year before the IPO and 16.7 percent of the companies attend an investor conference in that year. The authors conclude that private companies that engage in pre-IPO communications about their business and products enhances firm visibility and results in, among other things, more positive filing price revisions during the IPO process, more dispersed investor ownership, and greater coverage in the post-IPO period. The authors also conclude that in contrast to concerns that removing restrictions on communications in proximity to securities offerings would encourage companies to hype their stock prior to raising capital, there is no evidence that private companies that engage in pre-prospectus disclosures display inflated prices that reverse over time. As we have suggested in other posts, perhaps, in connection with other capital formation initiatives, the time may be ripe for the Securities and Exchange Commission to revisit securities offering reform and revamp the communications rules and safe harbors.

Since the financial crisis, the IPO market has been somewhat volatile, but in the last few quarters, the market has shown growth. A recent Audit Analytics report notes a number of factors that may contribute to the relatively slow rate of growth of the IPO market, including the abundant availability of private capital (both equity and, increasingly, debt), the overcorrection of the market for historically high IPO valuations, and M&A exits.

Based on data provided in the report, there have been 1,758 IPOs since 2008. 66% of these IPOs were completed after the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Business Start Ups (JOBS) Act.  At the time of this post, there have been 27 IPOs withdrawn in 2018, according to Nasdaq.  The report also notes that there has been a 46% decline in the number of SEC registrants.

Both regulators and Congress have taken steps to ease the burden of accessing the public capital markets.  For example, the report highlights the expanded ability to submit draft registration statements confidentially to all companies, which took effect in July 2017.  Based on Audit Analytics data, the report noted that EGCs made up 70% of all IPOs in the first quarter of 2017, and now EGCs make up almost 90% in 2018.  IPO costs are one of the main reasons for companies deferring their IPOs.

Shifting focus to unicorns, Audit Analytics reported that these companies, which are valued at over $1 billion, made up only 7% of all IPOs in the first quarter of 2018.  In 2017, 10 unicorns went public, which represented 2% of all IPOs completed and in 2016, 11 unicorns went public, representing 5% of all IPOs.

Audit Analytics also looked at total IPO proceeds raised by year, as shown above.  Post JOBS Act, IPO proceeds seemed to steadily increase and then dropped again significantly in 2015 and 2016.  Based on their data, the report notes that the second and third quarters are the strongest for IPO activity, which leads us to believe that 2018 will finish on a positive trajectory.

Read Audit Analytics’ full report for more.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Clayton addressed attendees at the Nashville 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival regarding the Commission’s capital formation agenda.  Clayton noted that the Commission has taken a number of steps to reduce the regulatory burdens for smaller companies, pointing to the amendments to the definition of “smaller reporting company,” the recently adopted disclosure modernization and simplification amendments to Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X, and the Division of Corporation Finance’s guidance extending the confidential submission process for registration statements to non-emerging growth companies.  That being said, Clayton outlined his views regarding the need to reverse the decline in the number of public companies that has occurred over the last two decades.  While many would contend that there is sufficient private capital available to fund the growth of promising privately held emerging companies, Clayton once again noted that “Main Street investors” generally are foreclosed from investing in high quality private companies.

Clayton noted that the Commission is considering suggestions and comments made at a Commission roundtable regarding supporting smaller public company secondary market liquidity.  Of course, the roundtable did not address changes to the regulatory framework for equity research, which most smaller public companies would observe is the key to secondary market liquidity.

He noted that the Commission intends to consider the thresholds that trigger Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404(b) auditor attestation.  Clayton used the example of biotech companies with little or no revenue that must devote considerable resources away from research and development and toward professional fees related to the attestation process.  This is interesting as JOBS Act 3.0 currently contains a measure that would provide for a Section 404(b) exemption for “low-revenue” issuers, such as biotech companies.  Perhaps the bill will inspire the Commission.  Chair Clayton also noted that the Staff of the Commission is working on a recommendation to expand the ability to “test the waters” to non-emerging growth companies.  This measure also would be addressed if JOBS Act 3.0 were to be passed.

Chair Clayton also discussed revisiting the exempt offering framework.  This has come up a few times in public remarks and also is included in the Commission’s regulatory flexibility agenda.  Clayton mentioned a “comprehensive review of our exemptive framework to ensure that the system, as a whole, is rational.”  He suggested a number of questions that may be raised in a concept release to be issued by the Commission, such as whether we have overlapping securities offering exemptions that may create confusion for companies, and whether we have gaps in the exempt offering framework.  He also noted that consideration ought to be given to the rules that “limit who can invest in certain offerings” and to expanding the focus to taking into account “the sophistication of the investor, the amount of the investment, or other criteria rather than just the wealth of the investor.”  Finally, he mentioned examining integration issues.

Fintech companies continue the global trend of companies choosing to remain private longer and raising large amounts of capital through private channels.  A recent CB Insights report covered the financing trends of fintech companies for the first half of 2018.  As of the date of the report, there were 29 fintech unicorns valued at $84.4 billion globally.  The second quarter of 2018 valued five fintech companies at unicorn status (over $1 billion).  Three of these new unicorns are based in the United States.

U.S. fintech companies raised $3.2 billion in new capital over 146 deals in the second quarter of 2018, bringing the total number of deals for the first half of the year to 303, raising approximately $5.3 billion.  Compared to Q2 2017, last quarter’s total capital raised increased over 52%.  Not surprisingly, later-stage capital raises made up over 83% of deals in the second quarter, raising approximately $2.7 billion over 74 deals.

There was only one IPO exit by a fintech unicorn in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2018, which raised $874 million.  Globally, M&A exits accounted for approximately 85% of fintech company exits, with 39 M&A transactions, while there were only seven fintech IPOs completed in the first half of 2018.

For more information, read CB Insights’ Global Fintech Report Q2 2018.

Large, late stage private capital raises for privately held companies continue to be the preferred method of financing growth for many new companies, particularly those in the tech sector.  A recent analysis conducted by data provider CB Insights examined what the industry calls “mega-deals” or “private-IPOs,” which are private placements raising over $100 million in proceeds.  These deals, which have a median deal size of $160 million, have largely contributed to the emergence of unicorns, or private companies valued at over $1 billion.  This trend in private capital raising has become more prevalent since the enactment of the JOBS Act in 2012, which has made it easier for companies to remain private longer.

A closer look at the data compiled by CB Insights shows that, over the last five years in the United States, over 90% of capital raises for private companies were later stage or mezzanine investments.  These deals have raised over $300 billion in capital for companies, with $151.7 billion of these deals fitting into the rubric of “private-IPOs.”  Based on the CB Insights analysis, it would appear that transaction volumes for 2018 are on pass to surpass those in 2017.  While legislators contemplate the capital formation-focused package of legislation that has been dubbed “JOBS Act 3.0,” and consider measures to make going public more compelling, it’s clear that there is no shortage of private capital to finance promising companies.

Late on Tuesday night, the House passed the recently unveiled JOBS & Investor Confidence Act on a vote of 406-4. The almost unanimous decision advances the bill, commonly referred to as JOBS Act 3.0, which is comprised of 32 individual capital formation-related pieces of legislation.

Among other reforms, the bill proposes changes to existing rules that would affect regulations on angel investors; the definition of an “accredited investor”; the expansion of IPO on-ramp expeditions for EGCs; and the easing certain securities regulations for IPOs.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, co-author of the original JOBS Act, noted that the Act is “…evidence of this House’s commitment to expanding opportunity for American workers and investors.”

We will be following this post with a more comprehensive legal update discussing the bill.

Today, a bipartisan, capital formation-focused, package of legislation was unveiled by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Ranking Member Maxine Waters.  The “JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018” is comprised of 32 individual bills, including those we have previously blogged about, that have already passed in the Committee or in the House this term.

Chairman Hensarling noted that the efforts of the Committee and the package “…will play an important role in sustaining long-term economic growth and global competitiveness.”

A chart of the bills that comprise the legislative package can be found here.

The House Financial Services Committee met last week and approved eight capital formation-related bills. The bills require the Securities and Exchange Commission to take action to change certain of its definitions in its rules and provide guidance on a number of securities-related issues.  These include amending the definition of a qualifying investment; requiring a study on IPO underwriting fees with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority; and requiring a study on expanding investments in small-cap companies. Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling noted that these bills “…will help our small businesses gain capital, help entrepreneurial ventures, and help companies in America go public and stay public.”

Below we provide a summary of the principal bills:

H.R. 6177, the “Developing and Empowering our Aspiring Leaders Act,” requires the SEC to revise the definition of a qualifying investment to include equity securities acquired in a secondary transaction.

H.R. 6319, the “Expanding Investment in Small Businesses Act,” requires the SEC to study whether the current diversified fund limit threshold for mutual funds of 10% constrains their ability to take meaningful positions in small-cap companies.

H.R. 6322, the “Enhancing Multi-Class Share Disclosures Act,” requires issuers with a multi-class stock structure to make certain disclosures in any proxy or consent solicitation materials.

H.R. 6324, the “Middle Market IPO Underwriting Cost Act,” requires the SEC, in consultation with FINRA, to study the direct and indirect costs associated with small and medium-sized companies to undertake initial public offerings.

H.R. 6320, the “Promoting Transparent Standards for Corporate Insiders Act,” requires the SEC to consider certain amendments to Rule 10b5-1 and directs the SEC to consider how any amendments to Rule 10b5-1 would clarify and enhance existing prohibitions against insider trading while also considering the impact of any such amendments on attracting candidates for insider positions, capital formation, and a company’s willingness to operate as a public company.

H.R. 6323, the “National Senior Investor Initiative Act of 2018,” creates an interdivisional task force at the SEC, to examine and identify challenges facing senior investors and requires the Government Accountability Office to study the economic costs of the exploitation of senior citizens.

The U.S. IPO market has kept a steady pace through the second half of 2018, according to EY’s quarterly IPO trends report.

54 IPOs were completed in the second quarter of 2018, raising $12.9 billion, which amounts to a total of 101 IPOs, raising $29.9 billion for the first half of the year.  This is a 20% year-over-year increase in proceeds, and a 30% year-over-year increase in volume compared to the second half of 2017.

The median deal size for IPOs in the second quarter was $124.2 million, with only one IPO raising over $1 billion in proceeds.

The technology sector saw both the highest number of IPOs completed and the most proceeds raised in the second quarter of 2018, with 17 transactions, raising $5.1 billion.  Many of these tech sector-IPOs were done by unicorn companies.  Below we provide a graph of the top five sectors by number of IPOs based on EY’s data.

In addition, EY reports that 39 of the newly public companies chose to list on the Nasdaq, while 15 listed on the NYSE during the second quarter of 2018.

For more, see EY’s Global IPO trends: Q2 2018 report.