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Changes May Be Coming to Private Placements

In the wake of investor lawsuits over private placements in Medical Capital Holdings and Provident Royalties LLC, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering changes to its offering rules to make it easier to purchase non-public company shares. In addition, the SEC also is looking into whether it should revisit the current ban on public marketing of non-registered offerings as part of an overall review of securities-offering regulation.

As it is, private placements, also known as Regulation D offerings, are exempt from SEC registration. In the past year, the deals have come under increased scrutiny from regulators – with much of the attention generated by failed deals in Medical Capital Holdings and Provident Royalties. In 2009, the SEC charged both entities with fraud.

As reported May 10 by Investment News, in addition to possible changes in the ban on soliciting investors for non-registered offerings, the SEC is examining various restrictions on communications in initial public offerings, the thresholds that trigger public reporting and other regulatory questions that new capital-raising strategies create.

The SEC’s review comes on the heels of a proposal by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for a 15% cap on commissions and fees for private placements, as well as more disclosures about offering proceeds.

According to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, about 22% of the SEC’s enforcement cases in 2010 year involved investor fraud from securities offerings.

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