On November 1, 2017, the Division of Corporation Finance (Division) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14I (SLB No. 14I) to offer guidance on the scope and application of Rules 14a-8(i)(7) and 14a-8(i)(5), each of which provide a substantive basis for excluding shareholder proposals from a company’s proxy materials for shareholder meetings. SLB No. 14I also discusses a new policy requiring documentation when shareholders submit “proposals by proxy,” along with the Division’s views on the use of graphs and images in the supporting statements for shareholder proposals.
On October 23, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) unanimously approved (the “Approval Release”) the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (“PCAOB”) proposal to adopt a new auditing standard, AS 3101, The Auditor’s Report on an Audit of Financial Statements When Auditor Expresses an Unqualified Opinion, and related amendments to other auditing standards. As discussed in the Approval Release, the PCAOB adopted the new standard in final form on June 1, 2017, subject to SEC approval, following a PCAOB concept release, proposal and reproposal process beginning in 2011.
This week we highlight a speech by Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, on cybersecurity and retail investor protection. In her remarks, she addresses the key priorities of the Enforcement Division in its allocation of resources, including its focus on retail investors, cyber-related issues, the conduct of investment advisers and broker-dealers, financial fraud and disclosure issues, and insider trading.
On October 17, 2017, the Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued new Non-GAAP Financial Measures Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) that clarify when financial forecasts used in connection with a business combination transaction are considered non-GAAP measures subject to Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K and Regulation G.
On October 11, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to adopt proposed amendments to Regulation S-K that are intended to modernize and simplify certain disclosure requirements and related rules and forms. Below are some of the notable proposed changes; included at the end of a brief description of each proposal is the affected rule.
On October 11, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published for comment a proposal by NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (Nasdaq) to modify its initial and continued listing requirements for special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
Beginning in 2018, U.S. public companies will generally need to comply with the pay ratio disclosure rule under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which requires that each such company disclose the annual total compensation of its CEO, the median of the annual total compensation of all employees of the company other than the CEO and the ratio of these two numbers. In order to provide this information, a company must determine (i) its “median employee” (ii) the annual total compensation of its CEO and (iii) the annual total compensation of its “median employee.” The rule generally provides companies with flexibility in making these determinations. For example, companies may use reasonable estimates in the methodology used to both identify the median employee and calculate the annual total compensation for employees other than the CEO. In addition, companies may evaluate their entire employee population, a statistical sampling of that population or other reasonable methods to identify the median employee. Non-U.S. employees may be excluded from this employee population in situations where non-U.S. employees constitute 5 percent or less of the company’s total employee workforce (the “5 percent exemption”).
This week we highlight a study by the EY Center for Board Matters, “Audit Committee Reporting to Shareholders in 2017.” EY reviewed audit committee-related proxy disclosures by Fortune 100 companies to examine trends in voluntary reporting and finds a continued increase in voluntary audit committee disclosures to shareholders.