Rules 505 and 506 of Regulation D deal with offers to sell securities. Under the Securities Act of 1933, any offer to sell securities must either be registered with the SEC or meet an exemption. Regulation D (or Reg D) contains three rules providing exemptions from the registration requirements, allowing some companies to offer and sell their securities without having to register the securities with the SEC.
In Rules 504 and 505, Regulation D implements §3(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 (also referred to as the '33 Act), which allows the SEC to exempt issuances of under $5,000,000 from registration. It also provides (in Rule 506) a "safe harbor" under §4(2) of the '33 Act (which says that non-public offerings are exempt from the registration requirement). In other words, if an issuer complies with the requirements of Rule 506, they can rest assured that their offering is "non-public," and thus that it is exempt from registration.
Rule 505 Regulation D
Rule 505 of Regulation D allows some companies offering their securities to have those securities exempted from the registration requirements of the federal securities laws. To qualify for this exemption, a company:
- Can only offer and sell up to $5 million of its securities in any 12-month period;
- May sell to an unlimited number of "accredited investors" and up to 35 other persons who do not need to satisfy the sophistication or wealth standards associated with other exemptions;
- Must inform purchasers that they receive "restricted" securities, meaning that the securities cannot be sold for six months or longer without registering them; and
- Cannot use general solicitation or advertising to sell the securities.
Rule 505 allows companies to decide what information to give to accredited investors, so long as it does not violate the antifraud prohibitions of the federal securities laws. But companies must give non-accredited investors disclosure documents that generally are equivalent to those used in registered offerings. If a company provides information to accredited investors, it must make this information available to non-accredited investors as well. The company must also be available to answer questions by prospective purchasers.
Here are some specifics about the financial statement requirements applicable to this type of offering:
- Financial statements need to be certified by an independent public accountant;
- If a company other than a limited partnership cannot obtain audited financial statements without unreasonable effort or expense, only the company's balance sheet (to be dated within 120 days of the start of the offering) must be audited; and
- Limited partnerships unable to obtain required financial statements without unreasonable effort or expense may furnish audited financial statements prepared under the federal income tax laws.
Rule 506 Regulation D
Rule 506 of Regulation D is considered a "safe harbor" for the private offering exemption of Section 4(2) of the Securities Act. Companies using the Rule 506 exemption can raise an unlimited amount of money. A company can be assured it is within the Section 4(2) exemption by satisfying the following standards:
- The company cannot use general solicitation or advertising to market the securities;
- The company may sell its securities to an unlimited number of "accredited investors" and up to 35 other purchases. Unlike Rule 505, all non-accredited investors, either alone or with a purchaser representative, must be sophisticated—that is, they must have sufficient knowledge and experience in financial and business matters to make them capable of evaluating the merits and risks of the prospective investment;
- Companies must decide what information to give to accredited investors, so long as it does not violate the antifraud prohibitions of the federal securities laws. But companies must give non-accredited investors disclosure documents that are generally the same as those used in registered offerings. If a company provides information to accredited investors, it must make this information available to non-accredited investors as well;
- The company must be available to answer questions by prospective purchasers;
- Financial statement requirements are the same as for Rule 505; and
- Purchasers receive "restricted" securities, meaning that the securities cannot be sold for at least a year without registering them.
Requirement to file Form D
While companies using the Rule 505 exemption do not have to register their securities and usually do not have to file reports with the SEC, they must file what is known as a "Form D" after they first sell their securities. Form D is a brief notice that includes the names and addresses of the company’s owners and stock promoters, but contains little other information about the company.