California Requires Many Foreign Corporations To Send Annual Financial Statements To Shareholders

California is a net exporter of corporate charters, but it remains home to many corporations. As a result, the California Corporations Code has a preternatural concern with foreign corporations.

One example is Section 1501(a) which requires the board to cause an annual report to be sent to shareholders.  This report must include a balance sheet as of year end and an income statement and statement of cash flows for the year.  The statute doesn’t require that the statements be audited, but if an independent accountant has issued a report, then that report must be sent along as well.  If there is no report, then the report must include a certificate of an authorized officer that the statements were prepared without audit from the books and records of the corporation.  If the corporation has fewer than 100 holders of record (determined in accordance with Section 605), the financial statements need not be prepared in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles if the statements reasonably set forth the assets and liabilities and income and expense of the corporation and disclose the accounting basis used in their preparation.

The report must be sent not later than 120 days after the close of the fiscal year and must be sent at least 15 days (or, if sent by third class mail, 35 days) prior to the annual meeting of shareholders held during the following fiscal year.  Cal. Corp. § 1501(a)(1) & (2).

This requirement applies to domestic corporations, a term that embraces any corporation formed under the laws of California.  Cal. Corp. § 1501(g).  Thus, it includes corporations not formed under the General Corporation Law. See Cal. Corp. Code § 167.  However, a corporation with less than 100 holders of record (determined in accordance with Section 605) may include a bylaw provision that waives the annual report requirement.

The statute also applies to any foreign corporation if the corporation has its principal executive offices in California or it customarily holds meetings of its board in California.  Cal. Corp. § 1501(g).

Publicly traded companies are not exempted per se from this requirement.  However, corporations with an outstanding class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 will satisfy the annual report requirement if they comply with Rule 14a-16 (17 C.F.R. § 240.14a-16).  Cal. Corp. § 1501(a)(4).  [Note that this statute purports to include future amendments and this may give rise to a constitutional problem, see Why Incorporation May Be Unconstitutional.]

Here is a flow-chart describing the application of the statute.  This is probably a good time to remind readers that this blog does not provide legal advice.  There are other requirements in Section 1501 (including possible quarterly reporting requirements) that are not covered in today’s post.  Moreover, there are other nuances that I’ve not mentioned.