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SEC Adopts Amendments to Financial Reporting Requirements in Acquisitions and Dispositions of Businesses

Yesterday, May 21, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it approved amendments to its rules and forms “to improve for investors the financial information about acquired or disposed businesses, facilitate more timely access to capital, and reduce the complexity and costs to prepare the disclosure.”  The 267-page final rule release is available by clicking here.

The amendments update SEC rules which have not been comprehensively addressed since their adoption, some over 30 years ago.  Jay Clayton, the SEC’s Chairman, said that amendments are “designed to enhance the quality of information that investors receive while eliminating unnecessary costs and burdens [and] will benefit investors, registrants and the market more generally.”

Among other things, the amendments:

  • update the significance tests (i.e., to determine when financial statements regarding an acquisition or disposition must be included) in Rule 1-02(w) and elsewhere by revising the investment test to compare the registrant’s investments in and advances to the acquired or disposed business to the registrant’s aggregate worldwide market value if available; revising the income test by adding a revenue component; expanding the use of pro forma financial information in measuring significance; and conforming, to the extent applicable, the significance threshold and tests for disposed businesses to those used for acquired businesses;
  • modify and enhance the required disclosure for the aggregate effect of acquisitions for which financial statements are not required or are not yet required by eliminating historical financial statements for insignificant businesses and expanding the pro forma financial information to depict the aggregate effect in all material respects;
  • require the financial statements of the acquired business to cover no more than the two most recent fiscal years;
  • permit disclosure of financial statements that omit certain expenses for certain acquisitions of a component of an entity;
  • permit the use of, or reconciliation to, International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board in certain circumstances;
  • no longer require separate acquired business financial statements once the business has been included in the registrant’s post-acquisition financial statements for nine months or a complete fiscal year, depending on significance; and
  • make corresponding changes to the smaller reporting company requirements in Article 8 of Regulation S-X, which will also apply to issuers relying on Regulation A.

The amendments will be effective on Jan. 1, 2021, but voluntary compliance will be permitted in advance of the effective date.