Change in NYSE and AMEX Listing Requirements For Companies Completing Reverse Mergers with Public Shell Companies
Posted by Securities Attorney Laura Anthony | November 14, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , ,

On November 8, 2011 the SEC granted an accelerated approval to a proposed rule change initiated by the NYSE AMEX, whereby the NYSE AMEX amended its rules so that a Company that goes public via a reverse merger with a shell company, must wait at least one year to apply for listing on the NYSE exchange. The NASDAQ exchange proposed, and presumably will have approved, a substantially similar rule. The complete rule change is available on the SEC website.

New Exchange Requirements

In response to recent reverse merger abuses, primarily involving accounting fraud related to Chinese company reverse mergers, in July, 2011, the NYSE, AMEX and NASDAQ exchanges proposed more stringent listing requirements for companies seeking to become listed following a reverse merger with a shell company. The rule change prohibits a reverse merger company from applying to list until the combined entity had traded in the U.S. over the counter market, on another national securities exchange, or on a regulated foreign exchange, for at least one year following the filing of all required information about the reverse merger transaction, including audited financial statements. In addition, new rules require that the new reverse merger company has filed all its required reports for the one year period, including at least one annual report.

In addition, the new rule requires that the reverse merger company “maintain a closing stock price equal to the stock price requirement applicable to the initial listing standard under which the reverse merger company is qualifying to list for a sustained period of time, but in no event for less than 30 of the most recent 60 trading days prior to the filing of the initial listing application.”

The rule includes some exceptions for companies that complete a firm commitment offering resulting in net proceeds of at least $40 million dollars.

“Special” Listing Requirements

In addition to the specific additional listing requirements contained in the new rule, the Exchange may “in its discretion impose more stringent requirements than those set forth above if the Exchange believes it is warranted in the case of a particular reverse merger company based on, among other things, an inactive trading market in the reverse merger company’s securities, the existence of a low number of publicly held shares that are not subject to transfer restrictions, if the reverse merger company has not had a Securities Act registration statement or other filing subjected to a comprehensive review by the SEC, or if the reverse merger company has disclosed that it has material weaknesses in its internal controls which have been identified by management and/or the reverse merger company’s independent auditor and has not yet implemented an appropriate corrective action plan.”

Screening Issuers

In discussing and approving the new rules the SEC noted that the listing standards “provide the means for an exchange to screen issuers that seek to become listed, and to provide listed status only to those that are bona fide companies with sufficient public float, investor base, and trading interest likely to generate depth and liquidity sufficient to promote fair and orderly markets.”

The Future of the OTCBB and OTCQB

Theoretically, making it more difficult and expensive for reverse merger Companies to list on a major exchange will result in a massive resurgence of issuers seeking to trade on the OTCBB (OTCQB). When all is said and done, and no one has a crystal ball, the OTCBB and OTCQB may be the new home for even larger more established reverse merger companies simply because they are required to trade as such for twelve months before graduating to a larger exchange or because they fall short of listing requirements by so much as a single criteria.

The Author

Attorney Laura Anthony,
Founding Partner, Legal & Compliance, LLC
Securities, Reverse Mergers, Corporate Transactions

Securities attorney Laura Anthony provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size public Companies as well as private Companies intending to go public on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB), now known as the OTCQB. For more than a decade Ms. Anthony has dedicated her securities law practice towards being “the big firm alternative.” Clients receive fast and efficient cutting-edge legal service without the inherent delays and unnecessary expense of “partner-heavy” securities law firms.

Ms. Anthony’s focus includes but is not limited to compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, (“Exchange Act”) including Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K and the proxy requirements of Section 14. In addition, Ms. Anthony prepares private placement memorandums, registration statements under both the Exchange Act and Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). Moreover, Ms. Anthony represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse mergers and forward mergers, including preparation of deal documents such as Merger Agreements, Stock Purchase Agreements, Asset Purchase Agreements and Reorganization Agreements. Ms. Anthony prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of the Exchange Act, state law and FINRA for corporate changes such as name changes, reverse and forward splits and change of domicile.

Contact Legal & Compliance LLC for a free initial consultation or second opinion on an existing matter.

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