Timely Disclosure

Timely Disclosure

Updates and Commentary on Current issues in M&A, Corporate Finance and Capital Markets

How much do you know about Cryptoassets?

On June 28, 2018, the Investor Office of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) published a report entitled “Taking Caution: Financial Consumers and the Cryptoasset Sector”. The report summarizes the results of a survey, conducted in March 2018, of more than 2,500 Ontarians aged 18 and older.

Cryptoasset Ownership

The report describes that 5% of Ontarians currently own cryptoassets (or, as the survey referenced, cyrptocurrencies). This translates into approximately 500,000 Ontarians. Furthermore, an additional 4% of Ontarians in the age bracket owned cryptoassets in the past but no longer do.

Of particular note was the report’s determination that men aged 18-34 are more likely to own a cryptoasset in comparison to any other demographic. However, of those surveyed, only half have invested approximately $1,000 and only 9% invested more than $10,000, primarily in Bitcoin and Ether.

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MFDA Continuing Education Proposed Rules and Policy

On March 26, 2018, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) published proposed MFDA Rules 1.2 Definitions and 1.26 Continuing Education (collectively, Proposed Rules) and Proposed MFDA Policy No. 9 Continuing Education (CE) Requirements (Proposed Policy) for public comment.  The Proposed Rules and Proposed Policy are intended to promote a new CE regime to further enhance MFDA members and Approved Persons’ proficiency, professionalism and industry knowledge (CE Initiative).

An “Approved Person” is an individual who is a partner, director, officer, compliance officer, branch manager or alternate branch manager, employee or agent of an MFDA member firm who:

  • is registered or permitted, where required by applicable securities legislation, by the securities commission having jurisdiction, or
  • submits to the jurisdiction of the MFDA.

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Reducing Regulatory Burden for Investment Fund Issuers

On May 24, 2018, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) released CSA Staff Notice 81-329 Reducing Regulatory Burden for Investment Fund Issuers, which outlines the CSA’s plan to implement four near-term initiatives to lessen the regulatory burden on investment fund issuers. Specifically, CSA staff will undertake to: (i) remove redundant information in disclosure documents; (ii) use the web to provide certain information about funds; (iii) codify exemptive relief that is routinely granted; and (iv) minimize the filing of documents that may contain duplicative information.

The proposed initiatives form part of the CSA Rationalization of Investment Fund Disclosure project, which was launched in March 2017 to identify opportunities to alleviate regulatory burden for investment fund issuers without compromising investor protection and the efficiency of the markets.

The CSA expects to publish for comment proposed rule amendments to address these initiatives by March 2019.

TSX & TSXV Extend Deadline for Mandatory PIF Electronic Submission

On June 14, 2018, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV, and together with the TSX, the TMX Exchanges) announced that they were extending the deadline beyond which certain documents can only be submitted in electronic format.

The TMX Exchanges will now continue to accept current paper versions of the TSX Form 4 and TSXV Form 2A Personal Information Form (PIF) and the related TSX Form 4B and TSXV Form 2C1 Declaration until September 30, 2018. Such documents, when filed electronically, do not need to be notarized and are executed by the individual with an electronic signature, eliminating the need to submit an original of an executed copy to the TMX Exchanges.

Individuals have been able to populate their PIF and Declaration on the TMX Portal since late 2017, and the TMX Exchanges have attempted to encourage electronic filings.

Additionally, the TSX has granted the same extension in respect of its amended listing application; the amended application no longer has to be notarized.

This represents an extension to the prior deadline of June 30, 2018, which we discussed in a previous post on this blog. For more information, access the online versions of the relevant TSX staff notice and TSXV bulletin.

ASC Proposes Amendments to Facilitate Cross-Border Offerings

The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) has proposed replacing the current ASC Rule 72-501 with a new ASC Rule 72-501 (Proposed Rule).  The Proposed Rule is intended to reduce regulatory impediments and facilitate offerings by Alberta issuers to investors outside of Alberta by removing the potentially duplicative application of Alberta prospectus requirements where an offering materially complies with the securities laws of the foreign jurisdiction.  The ASC has historically taken the position that a distribution by an issuer with a fundamental or, in certain cases, significant connection to Alberta is a distribution from Alberta and subject to Alberta securities laws.  The approach in the Proposed Rule follows new rules recently released by the Ontario Securities Commission under OSC Rule 72-503 Distributions Outside Canada (OSC Rule 72-503) regarding distributions of securities outside of Canada.  The Proposed Rule should primarily benefit issuers with a fundamental connection to Alberta that are distributing securities to persons located outside Canada.

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IIROC Oversight Review Report

On April 24, 2018, the Canadian Securities Administrators published the Oversight Review Report of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (Report). The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) is a not-for-profit self-regulatory organization that regulates investment dealers and trading on Canada’s capital markets with a view to protecting investors and maintaining fairness and order in the market.

To assess the risks associated with IIROC’s operations and to ultimately hold IIROC accountable for its internal controls and procedures, the provincial securities regulators conduct an annual risk-based oversight review of a number of IIROC’s processes. The most recent review, covering the period from August 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017 (Review), was conducted by eight of the provincial securities regulators, namely, the British Columbia Securities Commission, the Alberta Securities Commission, the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan, the Manitoba Securities Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, the Autorité des marchés financiers, the Financial and Consumer Services Commission of New Brunswick, and the Nova Scotia Securities Commission (Participating Regulators).  The Review focused on four areas: (1) Financial and Operations Compliance, (2) Corporate Governance, (3) Risk Management, and (4) Financial Operations.

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CSA adopts new prospectus exemption making it easier to resell securities of non-Canadian issuers

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have adopted amendments to National Instrument 45-102 Resale of Securities (NI 45-102) and changes to Companion Policy 45-102CP which provide for a new prospectus exemption for the resale by Canadian investors of securities of non-Canadian issuers. The amendments are expected to come into force as of June 12, 2018. The amendments will be applied to all Canadian jurisdictions other than Alberta and Ontario.

In Alberta and Ontario, the new exemption will be found in the following local instruments:

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Aurora-CanniMed: Securities Regulators Hold Firm on New Bid Regime

On March 15, 2018, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) and the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAAS) released highly anticipated reasons for a combined decision relating to Aurora Cannabis Inc.’s (Aurora) unsolicited take-over bid to acquire CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. (CanniMed). The reasons followed a December 21, 2017 decision in which the OSC and FCAAS, among other things:

  • Permitted Aurora’s use of “hard” lock-up agreements with other CanniMed shareholders to build support for its bid (finding that the locked-up shareholders were not “acting jointly or in concert” with Aurora).
  • Cease traded a tactical shareholder rights plan (poison pill) implemented by the CanniMed board in the face of the Aurora bid.
  • Declined to grant Aurora exemptive relief from the 105-day minimum deposit period.
  • Declined to restrict Aurora’s ability to rely on the exemption from the general restriction on purchases by a bidder to purchase up to 5% of the target company’s shares during the currency of its bid.

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Ontario’s New Rules on Distributions Outside Canada Now In Effect

On March 31, 2018, the new rules from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) on distributions of securities outside of Canada came into force. OSC Rule 72-503 Distributions Outside Canada (Rule 72-503) provides clarity on a previously opaque subject in Canadian securities law: how do market participants comply with securities law when selling securities to buyers that reside in other countries? In response to this ambiguity, Rule 72-503 creates four new exemptions from the Ontario prospectus requirement for issuers distributing securities to buyers residing in other countries.

Background

Since its publication in 1983, Interpretation Note 1 Distributions of Securities of Ontario (Interpretation Note) governed OSC policy on distributions outside of Canada. As a statement of principle, the Interpretation Note allows distributions of securities effected outside of Ontario without triggering Ontario’s prospectus requirement where “reasonable steps are taken by the issuer, underwriter and other participants effecting such distributions to ensure that such securities come to rest outside of Ontario.” The Interpretation Note then cites several examples of such “reasonable steps” including representations in the selling documents and legends on the securities, without committing to a bright-line test or concrete criteria. In the intervening decades, market participants have often complained about the vagueness of the Interpretation Note and the corresponding lack of certainty to international securities offerings in an increasingly globalized world.

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BCSC Seeks Feedback on Fintech Regulation

The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) published BC Notice 2018/01 – Consulting on the Securities Law Framework for Fintech Regulation on February 14, 2018.  The Notice follows from a series of consultations (both in person and by survey) conducted by the BCSC on various elements of the financial technology (fintech) industry.  The Notice sets out the results of the consultations, the general approach to date of the BCSC on certain of the matters and poses specific questions for comment on potential regulatory action to clarify or modernize securities laws in the space. Written submissions are due on April 3, 2018.

The Notice discussed the following topics, among others:

  • crowdfunding and online lending business models
  • online adviser business model
  • cryptocurrency funds
  • initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.

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