Articles Posted in Mandatory Disclosures

On Wednesday, March 30th, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced newly proposed rules and rule amendments governing Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), shell companies, and the projections that these companies make. The aggregate proposed rule is aimed at heightening investor protections for those who choose to invest in SPACs and shell companies, where such investor protections are currently quite slim.

Understanding the new rules necessitates a working understanding of SPACs themselves. SPACs are a form of “blank-check” company, in which capital is raised by investors through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). [2] SPAC IPOs differ greatly from traditional IPOs, however, in that at the time of a SPAC IPO, the SPAC has no physical operations of its own. [2]  Instead, post-IPO, a SPAC is granted a two year term during which it must acquire or merge with an existing company, thereby taking that company public without ever going through the traditional, and often costly, IPO process. [2]

New SPAC IPOs have been on a meteoric rise since 2020. In 2019, just 59 SPAC IPOs occurred, while 2020 saw 247 and 2021 saw a record 613 SPAC IPOs. [2] These 613 SPAC IPOs in 2021 represented over $160 billion of capital raised. [2]

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s much-anticipated rules on climate-related disclosures are finally here. [1] On Monday, March 21, 2022, the federal securities regulator announced the release of a proposed rule, broadly referred by the SEC as “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors.” [2] The proposed rule comes to the delight of activist investors and others concerned about climate change impacts, while industry actors may fear the increased costs of the proposed mandatory disclosures.

The SEC has proposed rules which would require those registered with the SEC to disclose specific information regarding their climate-related financial risks and climate-related financial metrics. [2] This information would be disclosed to the SEC through an entity’s typical registration statements or annual reports, which already contain many other required disclosures. [2]

Importantly, the draft rules require companies registered with the SEC to disclose both their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions include three discrete categories – Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3. [3] Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions are those emitted directly by the company through its operations, while Scope 2 emissions are the “indirect” emissions stemming from a company’s energy usage, such as through electricity generation. [4]

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