Will Private Funds Be Excluded?

Title II of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act directs the SEC to lift the ban on general solicitation and advertising under Rule 506 of Regulation D. That rule creates a safe harbor that deems the covered transactions to not involve any public offering within the meaning of section 4(2) of the Securities Act.

However, private funds also have to deal with the restriction in the Investment Company Act that also limits public offerings. Under the exclusions in 3(c)1 and 3(c)7 the fund must be an issuer “which is not making and does not presently propose to make a public offering of its securities”. Historically, the SEC has interpreted the meaning of “public offering” to be the same between the two acts. So not being a public offering under Rule 506 meant the offering was not public under the Investment Company Act.

For real estate fund managers relying on the 3(c)5 exclusion, there is no ban on a public offering in that exclusion.

The JOBS Act requires the SEC to revise its rule, so we don’t know exactly how the changes to Rule 506 will work. It’s possible that the SEC will limit the changes to the Securities Act and not open general advertising to funds under 3(c)1 and 3(c)7 who are required to be private.

However, Section 201(b) of the JOBS Act contains this:

(b) CONSISTENCY IN INTERPRETATION.—Section 4 of the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 77d) is amended—

(1) by striking ‘‘The provisions of section 5’’ and inserting

‘‘(a) The provisions of section 5’’; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

‘‘(b) Offers and sales exempt under section 230.506 of title 17, Code of Federal Regulations (as revised pursuant to section 201 of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) shall not be deemed public offerings under the Federal securities laws as a result of general advertising or general solicitation.’’.

(My emphasis)

I assume the Investment Company Act is part of the “Federal securities laws.” I suppose you could argue that the Investment Advisers Act and the Investment Company Act operate separately from the Securities Act and the Exchange Act. That would be a tough argument for the SEC to make. The SEC could explicitly not include 3(c)1 and 3(c)7 under the changes to Rule 506.

That would seem unlikely. Take a look at the SEC’s own website “Researching the Federal Securities Laws Through the SEC Website” where it lists the Investment Company Act and Investment Advisers Act as part of the federal securities laws.

More likely would be the SEC issuing a rule with no mention of 3(c)1 and 3(c)7 or the Investment Company Act. That might leave practitioners a bit nervous about the gap.