US SEC Brings in Top Gun Lawyer to Promote IPOs, Expand JOBS Act


May 15–The US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), following policy goals advanced by the Trump administration, is sharpening its focus on encouraging private companies to go public via IPOs. Towards that effort, veteran Silicon Valley tech deal lawyer Bill Hinman, a former partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has guided the likes of among others, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Facebook Inc (NYSE:FB)  has been appointed Director of the SEC’s Corporation Finance division; the unit that oversees initial public offerings.  SEC Commissioner  Jay Clayton, who has called for scaling back requirements on listed firms and argued the government should make it “more attractive” to go public and according to Clayton, “Bill Hinman is the ideal man for the job.”

The top Corporation Finance Division post will be crucial because of the unit’s role in writing rules that govern public and private capital-raising.

In an interview, Mr. Hinman said “spurring more public offerings is a worthy goal of regulators, because investors benefit from the detailed public disclosures.” Hinman has also voiced his view towards further expanding the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. The law, also known as the JOBS Act, passed with bipartisan support and was hailed as the first sign that Washington understood how the internet could be used to help smaller companies raise money without turning to Wall Street.

“To the extent the SEC can make it more attractive and efficient to raise capital here, we are going to want to do that,” he said. “That is our primary focus and challenge going forward.”

Companies raised $2.1 trillion in private placements of stocks and bonds in 2014, compared with about $1.35 trillion for public sales of equity and debt, according to SEC figures. The decline in U.S. public listings has happened as fast-growing startups such as Uber Technologies Inc. and other “unicorns” have been able to get the cash they need from venture capitalists.

However much deal makers have lauded the SEC’s new-found resolve to promote public offerings, some market participants say they don’t see the problem that Mr. Clayton has said he wants to solve. “The real question is do small-growth companies have access to capital, and they do,” according to Robin Graham, managing director and head of technology, media and communications at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. “It’s just in the private markets.”

According to Samuel Goldberg, a senior partner at, a firm that specializes in business plan writing, feasibility studies and the preparation of investor offering documents and guiding private companies throughout the course of both private placements and public capital raising initiatives, “Public markets are ultimately the holy grail for start-up companies; easing the complexities of public listing can prove helpful for those who have private investors seeking exit strategies and enabling share Issuers to attract a new and much broader universe of investors.”

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Obama Wants Budget Boost for SEC and CFTC


President Obama is using the last months of his presidency to offer a budget boost that can impact financial market regulatory initiatives via government agencies SEC and CFTC.

As reported first by Law360, the budget boost for SEC and the CFTC envisions more auditors, more investigators, more enforcement staff. That said, according to one industry source who spoke off the record with, “The SEC vision of using the increased budget to add 127 new staffers to Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations is illustrative of the agency’s dedication to making their bureaucracy more bureaucratic, and even less efficient than it already is. Sounds like just more bodies tripping over their own shoes and tying up industry members with paper clips.”

Law360, New York (February 9, 2016, 11:14 PM ET) — A pair of Wall Street regulators on Tuesday laid out their wish lists for how to spend their budget bumps that President Barack Obama floated for fiscal year 2017, with eyes on ramping up enforcement and examination staffs to meet the demands of the Dodd-Frank Act and growing complexity of the markets.

Under Obama’s plan, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would see its budget expand to $1.8 billion, an 11 percent increase, for the next fiscal year starting Sept. 30 while the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission would grow to $330 million, a 32 percent bump. His economic adviser, Jeffrey Zients, said on Monday this amounted a “down payment” toward a long-range goal of doubling both agencies’ budgets by 2021.

In separate budget requests, both the SEC and the CFTC said they want to vastly expand their headcount and ramp up their spending on information technology to deal with emerging gaps and nagging shortcomings in their oversight.

“The SEC appreciates the confidence that Congress and the President have placed in it in recent appropriation cycles,
with enacted budgets that are permitting the SEC to begin to address longstanding resource challenges,” officials at the agency wrote. “In light of the continuing growth in the industry and the enormity of the responsibilities now placed on the agency, however, additional funding is critical,” they added.

Nonetheless, the SEC said it would take that money to add about 250 full- and part-time staffers, bringing its budgeted headcount up to just under 5,200 budgeted positions. The vast majority of these new positions, or 127, would be earmarked for the agency’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, where they would focus primarily on conducting investment adviser examinations.

For years, the SEC has struggled to examine more than 10 percent of the nearly 12,000 registered investment advisers under its watch, and about 40 percent of such firms have never been examined. Even with the proposed increase in examiner headcount coming out of the fiscal 2017 budget, however, the agency would only get to about 12 percent of registere advisers in a given year, the SEC noted.

The agency also would like to ramp up enforcement, adding 52 positions to the division. A dozen of those positions would reinforce its litigation efforts, the SEC told Congress.

“This increased allocation will enable the SEC to litigate any case where it believes admissions of wrongdoing are appropriate under its new policy, if necessary,” SEC officials wrote.

Other units would see more modest gains in headcount. The Division of Corporation Finance would look to gain four more budgeted positions as it expects to contend with an increase in request for guidance from small businesses and investors around the new rules passed out of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act aka JOBS Act such as equity crowdfunding and the so-called Regulation A+.

Over at the CFTC, Chairman Tiimothy Massad said he would use the additional $80 million that the president wants to give his agency to hire 183 full-equivalent staff across its divisions.

“This increase is necessary because the commission has not received budgetary increases sufficient enough to allow full implementation of its responsibilities,” Massad wrote to Congress.

More than a third of the proposed increase would go to bolstering the agency’s information technology infrastructure, Massad said. Within that total is the CFTC’s market surveillance function, which Massad wants to grow to 160 full-time positions, up from the current tally of 104 such positions. Such an increase would help support the agency’s development of automated surveillance and data visualization tools and ramp up its oversight of the uncleared swaps market, among other things.

Beyond that, the enforcement division, which netted the government $2.8 billion in fines during its fiscal 2015, would be a big winner under the CFTC’s proposal. It would add 51 full-time equivalent positions to the 161 such staffers budgeted for the current fiscal year.

“The commission not only has insufficient resources currently, it anticipates more time-intensive and inherently complex investigations due to innovative products and practices within the industry, including the use of automated and high frequency trading,” CFTC officials said.
To read the full story from Law360, click here