The Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act, H.R. 1082, took another step forward this week when it was approved by the House Committee on Financial Services. It still has a long way to go before coming law so this is no time to stop getting your compliance infrastructure in place.
The bill still defers the definition of “private equity fund” to the Securities and Exchange Commission and gives the SEC six months to come up with that definition. Even assuming the bill passes and passes quickly, you would not know if you fit into this exemption until very close to the March 30, 2011 filing deadline under the Investment Advisers Act.
The bill has been revised and now imposes a leverage limitation.
“provided that each such fund has not borrowed and does not have outstanding a principal amount in excess of twice its invested capital commitments.”
I think that limitation would prohibit the use of a subscription secured credit facility by a private equity fund if they wanted to take advantage of this exemption. That borrowing is used prior to calling capital and to provide liquidity without calling capital. It makes it easier for the fund manager to smooth out capital calls to investors.
Beyond that facility, It’s not clear to me whether that limitation would include debt at the portfolio level. In reading the minority view at the end of the committee report (.pdf), they think the leverage limitation excludes leverage in the portfolio companies.
Unfortunately, the committee report comes across as very partisan and attacks Dodd-Frank as a whole. To me that would only seem to decrease the likelihood that the House as a whole will take the bill seriously.