SEC Chief of Staff, Buddy Donohue’s speech at the National Society of Compliance Professionals’ 2016 National Conference.
SEC OCIE Director, Marc Wyatt, delivered the keynote address at the National Society of Compliance Professionals’ 2016 National Conference.
On July 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) announced that investment firm ValueAct had entered into a consent decree in which it agreed to pay $11 million to settle charges that two of its affiliated funds acquired large stakes in Halliburton Company (“Halliburton”) and Baker Hughes Incorporated (“Baker Hughes”) in violation of the notification and waiting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”). The DOJ asserted that ValueAct was required to make an HSR Act filing, but ValueAct had asserted that no such filing was required due to the “investment-only” or so-called “passive investor” exemption. On the heels of such announcement, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) provided clarification that it does not view the inability to utilize the “passive investor” exemption under the HSR Act as equivalent to an investor not being considered “passive” for purposes of Section 13(d) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).
On Aug. 10, 2016, Caledonia Investments plc (“Caledonia”) agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) charges that Caledonia violated the premerger reporting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (“HSR Act”) in connection with the vesting of restricted stock units (“RSUs”) in Bristow Group Inc. (“Bristow”). Pursuant to the settlement, Caledonia agreed to pay $480,000 in civil penalties. According to the government’s complaint, the vesting of the Bristow RSUs was a reportable acquisition of voting securities for which a filing, and observance of the mandatory waiting period, was required.
Investors should be reminded of their continuing obligations to monitor their holdings, even after an HSR Act filing has been made. Violations similar to Caledonia’s have been an area in which the government has previously pursued enforcement actions and secured large civil penalties.