CSA issues prospectus disclosure guidance for issuers with short-term liquidity concerns or raising insufficient proceeds
On March 2, 2012, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued a notice setting out the CSA’s approach regarding disclosure of the financial condition of an issuer and the sufficiency of proceeds in the context of a prospectus offering.
The notice is intended for issuers that have filed a prospectus and either (i) it appears that the prospectus inadequately discloses the issuer’s financial condition and going concern risk or (ii) there is adequate disclosure about the issuer’s financial condition, but it appears that the proceeds from the proposed offering may be insufficient to accomplish the stated purpose of the offering. In these circumstances, a receipt for a prospectus may not be issued.
The CSA identified five areas in which the staff may raise comments where it identifies concerns in respect to an issuer’s financial condition and/or sufficiency of proceeds: (i) missing information regarding offering amount and pricing, (ii) offering structure, (iii) use of proceeds disclosure, (iv) risk factors disclosure and (v) representations to support ability to continue operations. For each of these areas, the notice identifies disclosure that will likely be required before the issuer receives a receipt for a final prospectus. However, for issuers with real short-term liquidity concerns, it is possible that a receipt may not be issued, regardless of disclosure.
The notice does not set out a specific test to determine under what circumstances the proceeds will be considered insufficient or when an issuer will be deemed to not have sufficient funds to continue as a going concern. As a practical matter, it would appear that the determination as to the sufficiency of proceeds to achieve the purposes identified in the prospectus will often be clear. In respect of issuer with liquidity concerns, the notice provides general guidance based on the type of issuer in question:
Exploration stage issuer: Sufficient to reach completion of next phase of a project
Development stage issuer: Sufficient to achieve the issuer’s next significant milestone
Research & Development issuer: Sufficient to achieve progress on the development of a key product
Issuer with active operations: Ability to continue operations for the short term
A copy of the notice is available here.