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Published On: Thu, Sep 20th, 2018

SEC offers relief for hurricane victims, including companies, accountants, municipal advisors and agents

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it is providing regulatory relief to publicly traded companies, investment companies, accountants, transfer agents, municipal advisors and others affected by Hurricane Florence.  The loss of property, power, transportation, and mail delivery due to the hurricane poses challenges for some individuals and entities that are required to provide information to the SEC and shareholders.

To address compliance issues caused by Hurricane Florence, the Commission issued an order that conditionally exempts affected persons from certain requirements of the federal securities laws for periods following the weather event.

The Commission also adopted interim final temporary rules that extend the filing deadlines for specified reports and forms that companies must file pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A.

Hurricane Florence photo/ NASA, Ricky Arnold from the International Space Station

In connection with the Commission relief, issued in the order and interim final temporary rules, the Commission staff will take the following no-action positions with respect to affected parties’ obligations under the Exchange Act, the Securities Act, and the Investment Advisers Act:

  • For purposes of eligibility to use Form S-3 (and for well-known seasoned issuer status, which is based in part on Form S-3 eligibility), a company relying on the exemptive order will be considered current and timely in its Exchange Act filing requirements during the relief period if it was current and timely as of the first day of the relief period. After the relief period, a company will continue to be considered current and timely if it files any required report on or before Oct. 29, 2018.
  • For purposes of the Form S-8 eligibility requirements and the current public information eligibility requirements of Rule 144(c), a company relying on the exemptive order will be considered current in its Exchange Act filing requirements during the relief period if it was current as of the first day of the relief period.  After the relief period, a company will continue to be considered current if it files any required report on or before Oct. 29, 2018.
  • Companies that receive an extension on filing Exchange Act annual reports or quarterly reports pursuant to the order will be considered to have a due date of Oct. 29, 2018.  As such, those companies will be permitted to rely on Rule 12b-25 if they are unable to file the required reports on or before the due date.
  • During the period from Sept. 14, 2018 to Oct. 26, 2018, a registered open-end investment company and a registered unit investment trust will be considered to have satisfied the requirements of Section 5(b)(2) of the Securities Act to deliver a summary or a statutory prospectus, as applicable, to an investor, provided that: (1) the sale of shares to the investor was not an initial purchase by the investor of shares of the company or unit investment trust; (2) the investor’s mailing address for delivery, as listed in the records of the company or unit investment trust, has a ZIP code for which the common carrier has suspended mail service, as a result of Hurricane Florence, of the type or class customarily used by the company or unit investment trust, to deliver summary or statutory prospectuses; and (3) the company, or unit investment trust, or other person promptly delivers the summary or statutory prospectus, as applicable either (a) if requested by the investor, or (b) by the earlier (i) of Oct. 29, 2018 or (ii) the resumption of the applicable mail service.
  • A registered investment adviser will be considered to have satisfied Form ADV filing requirements under Section 204(a) of the Advisers Act and Rule 204-1 thereunder, if:  (1) the registrant’s Form ADV filing deadline falls within the period from Sept. 14, 2018 to Oct. 26, 2018; (2) the registrant was or is not able to meet its filing deadline due to Hurricane Florence; and (3) the registrant makes the required Form ADV filing by Oct. 29, 2018.
  • During the period from Sept. 14, 2018 to Oct. 26, 2018, a registered investment adviser will be considered to have satisfied the requirements of Section 204 of the Advisers Act and Rule 204-3(b) thereunder to deliver the written disclosure statements required thereunder to its advisory client, provided that:  (1) the client’s mailing address for delivery, as listed in the records of the investment adviser, has a ZIP code for which the common carrier has suspended mail service, as a result of Hurricane Florence, of the type or class customarily used by the adviser to deliver written disclosure statements; and (2) the investment adviser or other person promptly delivers the written disclosure statement either (a) if requested by the client, or (b) at the earlier of (i) Oct. 29, 2018 or (ii) the resumption of the applicable mail service.

Some companies and other affected persons may require additional or different assistance in their efforts to comply with the requirements of the federal securities laws and therefore are encouraged to contact Commission staff.  The Commission staff will address these and any disclosure-related issues on a case-by-case basis in light of their fact-specific nature.

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