Timely Disclosure

Timely Disclosure

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

BCSC Proposes Electronic Filing of Annual Reports of Exempt Distributions

The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) published proposed amendments (Proposed Amendments) to British Columbia Instrument 13-502 Electronic Filing of Reports of Exempt Distribution that would require investment fund issuers to use BCSC eServices when submitting Form 45-106F1s filed on an annual basis (currently these annual filings are submitted as paper filings to the BCSC).  The Proposed Amendments would allow payments to be made through BCSC eServices or by cheque.

The Proposed Amendments will result in all non-reporting issuer investment funds to set up a profile in the BCSC eServices in advance of their initial Annual Form 45-106F1 filing in B.C.

 The comment period is open until November 20, 2018.

OSC LaunchPad – Annual Summary Report

The Ontario Securities Commission released OSC Staff Notice 33-749 Annual Summary Report for Dealers, Advisers and Investment Fund Managers on August 23, 2018 (Staff Notice).

The Staff Notice included, at Part 1.3, a review of the recent activities of the OSC LaunchPad.  The LaunchPad is actively engaged with novel fintech businesses providing support in navigating regulatory requirements.  The Staff Notice highlighted the following key accomplishments of the OSC LaunchPad in fiscal 2017-2018:

  • 242 Meetings with fintech businesses and stakeholders
  • 156 requests for support received and direct support provided to fintech businesses
  • 55 events hosted by the OSC LaunchPad or in which it participated
  • 25 collaborative reviews with the Canadian Securities Adminstrators’ Regulatory Sandbox regarding novel business models that want to operate across Canada.

Although the industry was initially focussed on online advisors, online lenders and crowdfunding portals, OSC Staff advised in the Staff Notice that industry focus has largely shifted to cryptoasset-related businesses, including initial coin and token offerings, cryptoasset investment funds, traditional financial service businesses utilizing blockchain technology and crypto asset trading platforms.  In addition, the OSC Launchpad is seeing businesses focussed on RegTech services, technology-based compliance solutions and data analytics services.

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CSA Amends Requirements for Reporting Exempt Distributions

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published amendments (Amendments) to National Instrument 45-106 Prospectus Exemptions and CSA Staff Notice 45-308 Guidance for Preparing and Filing Reports of Exempt Distribution under 45-106 to change the information required within Form 45-106F1 Report of Exempt Distribution (Report).

The Amendments provide more flexibility regarding the certification requirement, streamline the information required to be gathered by filers and address certain concerns raised by foreign dealers and Canadian institutional investors.  The main changes to the Report are provided below.

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OSC Staff Notice Comments on Fund Manager Oversight of Related Party Service Providers

The Ontario Securities Commission released OSC Staff Notice 33-749 – Annual Summary Report for Dealers, Advisers and Investment Fund Managers on August 23, 2018 (OSC Staff Notice).

In the OSC Staff Notice, OSC staff identified that some investment fund managers (IFMs) have outsourced fund administration functions (including fund accounting and transfer agency) to related parties.  Under National Instrument 31-103 Registration Requirements, Exemptions and Ongoing Registrant Obligations, IFMs are required to establish a system of controls and supervision to ensure compliance with securities legislation and are responsible and accountable for all functions that they outsource to a service provider.  Accordingly, IFMs should not rely solely on the related service provider and assume that all obligations under securities legislation are being met.

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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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