From the Regulators

Amendments aim to create streamlined prospectus exemption for rights offerings

By James Langton |

In a move designed to boost the use of rights offerings as a way for public companies to raise capital, Canadian securities regulators are proposing sweeping changes to the rules that govern these sorts of deals.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) Thursday published proposed rule amendments that aim to create a streamlined prospectus exemption for rights offerings by reporting issuers. Among other things, the CSA is proposing to scrap the current regulatory review process that's required for rights offering circulars, saying that "this will significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to conduct an offering."

At the same time, the regulators are also proposing to introduce civil liability for that disclosure. And, they are proposing to introduce what they say is a "more user-friendly" rights offering circular.

The proposed amendments would also do away with the prospectus exemption for rights offerings by non-reporting issuers.

"Although rights offerings can be one of the fairest ways for issuers to raise capital, in that they allow all existing investors to participate on a pro rata basis, they are seldom used because of the time and costs associated with them," said Bill Rice, chair of the CSA and chair and CEO of the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC). "The proposed exemption is designed to make rights offerings more attractive to reporting issuers by decreasing both the time and costs involved."

The proposals are out for comment until Feb. 25, 2015.