The Hedge Fund Industry after the Lift of the Ban on General Solicitation
The SEC yesterday approved final rules implementing one of the most important changes to securities regulation and offering practices in decades, as mandated by Congress in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (“JOBS”) Act: to lift the ban on general solicitation or advertising in offerings to accredited investors that are exempt from registration under Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933. The implications of this rule change for the private fund industry could be substantial. However, readers who are expecting to see Beyoncé laud XYZ fund’s risk-adjusted returns in TV-ads, on busses etc. are likely to be disappointed. Private funds are still bound by an existing ban on using celebrity endorsements and other gimmicks to sell financial products.
Although the SEC lifted the ban on general solicitation, it appears to desire a counterbalancing of possible effects in the private fund industry. The SEC approved for publication a series of proposed rules to enhance its ability to monitor offerings in the aftermath of these unprecedented rule changes. The proposed amendments to the private offering rules are designed to reduce the risk of fraud and would require issuers to notify the SEC fifteen days before any offering and provide information on the use of proceeds and the type of general solicitation used.
It will take some time until private fund advisers and their attorneys understand exactly how the combination of new rules works, and it will be interesting to see if the enhanced anti fraud requirements will indeed discourage private fund managers from using general solicitations. Given this significant discontinuity, it will be fun to evaluate the effects of the new sets of rules.