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SEC considers new private trading rules

Marketplace Staff Apr 8, 2011

SEC considers new private trading rules

Marketplace Staff Apr 8, 2011

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Here at home, securities regulators could let up on years of rules that restrict how many shareholders a private company can have without having to report as much information as a public company would. The easing on the so-called 499 regulation could really change how money is raised — especially in private tech firms.

Jean Eaglesham is a reporter with the Wall Street Journal and she’s with us from New York right now live. Good morning.

JEAN EAGLESHAM: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Remind us what this 499 rule is.

EAGLESHAM: The rule is that companies can’t have more than 499 shareholders if they want to stay private and not open up their books to the public.

CHIOTAKIS: And by opening up their books that means all of the revenue data, all of that right?

EAGLESHAM: Exactly, it’s disclosing all that financial information the public companies do.

CHIOTAKIS: What would it mean for companies such as say — Facebook or Twitter, these big tech companies.

EAGLESHAM: If the SEC does increase this limit significantly, it could allow them to delay going public. And what that means is for ordinary shareholders, or other investors, it could be much harder to get those shares. At present with private share issues people have to be worth at least $1 million to buy these shares.

CHIOTAKIS: A million dollars. So that means only people with means would be able to capitalize?

EAGLESHAM: Exactly. it’s designed to protect all the investors, but it means private share companies, these fast growing tech companies, at the moment it’s only these wealthy individuals who can access them.

CHIOTAKIS: All right. Jean Eaglesham, reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Jean thank you.

EAGLESHAM: Pleasure.

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