SEC Adopts Rules for Disclosure of Hedging Policies

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on December 19, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Yesterday (without a meeting), the SEC approved final rules to require companies to disclose in proxy or information statements for the election of directors any practices or policies regarding the ability of employees or directors to engage in certain hedging transactions with respect to company equity securities. This rulemaking had been mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 and had sat in proposal form for several years. 

Under the new rules, new Item 407(i) of Regulation S-K will require a company to describe any practices or policies it has adopted regarding the ability of its employees (including officers) or directors to purchase securities or other financial instruments, or otherwise engage in transactions, that hedge or offset, or are designed to hedge or offset, any decrease in the market value of equity securities granted as compensation, or held directly or indirectly by the employee or director. A company could satisfy this requirement by either providing a fair and accurate summary of the practices or policies that apply, including the categories of persons they affect and any categories of hedging transactions that are specifically permitted or specifically disallowed, or, alternatively, by disclosing the practices or policies in full. If the company does not have any such practices or policies, the rule will require the company to disclose that fact or state that hedging transactions are generally permitted.

Companies generally must comply with the new disclosure requirements in proxy and information statements for the election of directors during fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2019. However, smaller reporting companies and emerging growth companies do not have to comply until their proxy and information statements for the election of directors during fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2020. Listed closed-end funds and foreign private issuers will not be subject to the new disclosure requirements.

Topics: Dodd-Frank, Securities and Exchange Commission, Regulation S-K

SEC issues staff report on accredited investor definition

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on December 21, 2015 at 5:09 PM

The SEC has issued a staff report on the accredited investor definition. The Dodd-Frank Act directed the SEC to review the accredited investor definition as it relates to natural persons every four years to determine whether the definition should be modified or adjusted. Staff from the Divisions of Corporation Finance and Economic and Risk Analysis prepared the report in connection with the first review of the definition. The report examines the history of the accredited investor definition and considers comments on the definition received from a variety of sources. The report considers alternative approaches to defining "accredited investor," provides staff recommendations for potential updates and modifications to the existing definition and analyzes the impact potential approaches may have on the pool of accredited investors. The SEC is inviting members of the public to provide comments on the accredited investor definition, after which it is possible that changes could be more formally proposed.

Topics: Dodd-Frank, accredited investor

Sullivan Client Advisory: New SEC Rule to Require Disclosure of Ratio of CEO Compensation to Median Worker Compensation

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on August 11, 2015 at 11:54 AM

The SEC has adopted a final rule under the Dodd-Frank Act requiring that public companies present the ratio of their chief executive officer’s total annual compensation to their median worker’s compensation. This rule comes nearly two years after being proposed, in a divided vote on an issue that has also divided public opinion.

Click below to read the complete Client Advisory, co-authored by Sullivan attorneys Howard Berkenblit and Natalie Lederman.

View Advisory

Topics: Dodd-Frank, median worker compensation, CEO compensation, public companies, pay ratio disclosure requirement

SEC adopts rule for pay ratio disclosure

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on August 5, 2015 at 4:57 PM

As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC today adopted a rule that requires public companies to disclose the ratio of the compensation of its chief executive officer (CEO) to the median compensation of its employees. The new rule will require disclosure of the pay ratio in registration statements, proxy and information statements, and annual reports that call for executive compensation disclosure. Companies will be required to provide disclosure of their pay ratios for their first fiscal year beginning on or after January 1, 2017. 

The SEC purports to address concerns about the costs of compliance by providing companies with flexibility in meeting the rule’s requirements. For example, a company will be permitted to select its methodology for identifying its median employee and that employee’s compensation, including through statistical sampling of its employee population or other reasonable methods. The rule also permits companies to make the median employee determination only once every three years and to choose a determination date within the last three months of a company’s fiscal year. In addition, the rule allows companies to exclude non-U.S. employees from countries in which data privacy laws or regulations make companies unable to comply with the rule and provides a de minimis exemption for non-U.S. employees. Companies would be required to briefly describe the methodology used to identify the median employee, and any material assumptions, adjustments (including cost-of-living adjustments), or estimates used to identify the median employee or to determine annual total compensation. If a company identifies a median employee based on a consistently applied compensation measure, it would be required to disclose the measure it used. Also, companies would be required to clearly identify any estimates used.

The rule does not apply to smaller reporting companies, emerging growth companies, foreign private issuers, MJDS filers, or registered investment companies. The rule does provide transition periods for new companies, companies engaging in business combinations or acquisitions, and companies that cease to be smaller reporting companies or emerging growth companies.

The adopting release for the rules appears here. The rules will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Topics: Dodd-Frank, pay ratio, executive compensation

SEC proposes rules requiring companies to adopt clawback policies on executive compensation

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on July 1, 2015 at 4:54 PM

Today, the SEC (by a 3-2 vote among commissioners) proposed rules, as required under the Dodd-Frank Act, that would direct the stock exchanges to adopt clawback listing standards. Under the proposed new Rule 10D-1, listed companies would be required to develop and enforce recovery policies that in the event of an accounting restatement, “claw back” from current and former executive officers incentive-based compensation they would not have received based on the restatement. Recovery would be required without regard to fault. The proposed rules would also require disclosure of listed companies’ recovery policies, and their actions under those policies.

Under the proposed rules, the listing standards would apply to incentive-based compensation that is tied to accounting-related metrics, stock price or total shareholder return. Recovery would apply to excess incentive-based compensation received by executive officers in the three fiscal years preceding the date a listed company is required to prepare an accounting restatement. Companies would have discretion not to recover the excess incentive-based compensation received by executive officers if the direct expense of enforcing recovery would exceed the amount to be recovered or, for foreign private issuers, in specified circumstances where recovery would violate home country law.

Each listed company would be required to file its recovery policy as an exhibit to its annual report under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. In addition, a listed company would be required to disclose its actions to recover in its annual reports and any proxy statement that requires executive compensation disclosure if, during its last fiscal year, a restatement requiring recovery of excess incentive-based compensation was completed, or there was an outstanding balance of excess incentive-based compensation from a prior restatement. Under the proposed rules, a company would be subject to delisting if it does not adopt a compensation recovery policy that complies with the applicable listing standard, disclose the policy in accordance with SEC rules or comply with the policy’s recovery provisions.

Additional facts can be found here, and the full proposing release can be found here.

Comments on the proposal are due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register (presumably that means early September). Once adopted, the stock exchanges would then have 90 days to propose their listing rules under Rule 10D-1, which would be effective sometime in the ensuing year. Once the listing rules are effective, companies would have 60 days to adopt a clawback policy. Recoveries would be required after the effective date of the new rule for excess incentive-based compensation received by current and former executive officers that results from attaining a financial reporting measure based on financial information for any fiscal period ending on or after the effective date of Rule 10D-1. Listed companies would be required to comply with the new disclosures in proxy or information statements and Exchange Act annual reports filed on or after the effective date of the listing exchange’s rule.

Topics: Dodd-Frank, Rule 10D-1, executive compensation, clawback policies

SEC to propose rules re: relationship between executive comp and company performance

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on April 23, 2015 at 4:35 PM

Next Wednesday, April 27, the SEC will consider whether to propose amendments to the Securities Exchange Act, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, requiring public companies to disclose in a clear manner the relationship between executive compensation actually paid and the financial performance of the company. Any rules proposed will be subject to a comment period, following which further action will be required by the SEC to finalize the rules.

Here’s the SEC’s press release about today’s rule proposals.

Topics: Dodd-Frank, Securities Exchange Act, executive compensation, company performance

SEC proposes rule re: disclosure in proxy statements of hedging policies

Posted by Howard Berkenblit on February 11, 2015 at 4:45 PM

This rule is required under the Dodd-Frank Act. Here is the proposing release.   

The proposals will be open for comments for 60 days.

Topics: Dodd-Frank

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The SEC Pulse provides updates and commentary from our Capital Markets Group on issues affecting publicly traded and privately owned businesses, investment banks and foreign companies who trade or raise capital in the United States, and boards of directors and company officers in securities transactions and corporate governance matters.

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