SEC Adopts FAST Act Disclosure Simplification and Modernization Amendments

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SEC Adopts FAST Act Disclosure Simplification and Modernization Amendments

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Ariel Hairston, Robert J. Minkus

On March 20, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted amendments to modernize and simplify Regulation S-K’s disclosure requirements and related rules and forms, as required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The amendments were proposed by the SEC in October 2017. The SEC adopted most of the amendments as proposed and some of the amendments with modifications, and elected not to adopt certain proposed amendments at all.

The SEC intends for the amendments to improve the readability and navigability of company disclosures and to discourage repetition and disclosure of immaterial information. These amendments complement other recent amendments adopted by the SEC to simplify disclosure, such as in the Disclosure Update and Simplification Final Rule that became effective in November 2018.

Below are brief summaries of some of the more significant amendments:

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) (Regulation S-K, Item 303 and Form 20-F). Registrants may omit discussion of the earliest of three years in the MD&A if they already discussed that year in any of their prior EDGAR filings that required such discussion. Registrants who elect not to include a discussion of the earliest year must include a statement that identifies the location in the prior filing where the omitted discussion may be found.

Description of Property (Regulation S-K, Item 102). Registrants must provide disclosure about physical property only to the extent that the property is material to the registrant’s business.

Risk Factors (Regulation S-K, Item 503(c) (moved to new Item 105)). The examples are deleted from the risk factors item to emphasize the principles-based nature of this disclosure requirement.

Material Contracts Two-Year Look Back (Regulation S-K, Item 601(b)(10)). Only “newly reporting registrants” are required to file fully performed material contracts that the registrant has entered into within two years of the applicable registration statement or report.

Redaction of Confidential Information in Material Contracts (Regulation S-K, Items 601(b)(10) and 601(b)(2) and investment company registration forms). Registrants may omit or redact confidential information from their filed material contracts without submitting a confidential treatment request to the SEC if the confidential information (i) is not material and (ii) would likely cause competitive harm to the registrant if publicly disclosed. This amendment is effective upon the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.

New Form 10-K Exhibit (new Regulation S-K, Item 6(b)(4)(iv)). Registrants are required to file an additional Exhibit to Form 10-K containing the description of the registrant’s securities required under Regulation S-K, Item 202(a)-(d) and (f).

Schedules and Attachments as Exhibits (Regulation S-K, Item 601(a)(5) and investment company forms). Registrants are no longer required to file attachments to their material agreements if such attachments do not contain material information or were not otherwise disclosed.

Hyperlinks (Securities Act Rule 411(b)(4); Exchange Act Rules 12b-23(a)(3) and 12b-32; Investment Company Act Rule 0-4; and Regulation S-T Rules 102 and 105). Registrants are no longer required to file as an exhibit any document that is incorporated by reference in the filing, but instead registrants must provide a hyperlink to such document.

Financial Statements: Incorporation by Reference and Cross-Reference (Forms 8-K, 10-Q, 10-K, 20-F, and 40F). Financial statements are prohibited from incorporating by reference, or cross-referencing to, information outside the financial statements (including in other parts of the same filing), unless otherwise specifically permitted by the SEC’s rules, U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or International Financing Reporting Standards, as applicable.

Cover Page (Forms 8-K, 10-Q, 10-K, 20-F, and 40F). Registrants are required to disclose on the form cover page the national exchange or principal U.S. market for their securities, the trading symbol, and the title of each class of securities. Additionally, registrants are required to tag all cover page information using Inline XBRL. This cover page Inline XBRL requirement has a three-year phase-in compliance period identical to the phase-in compliance period for the SEC’s Inline XBRL rules adopted in 2018, with large accelerated filers required to comply beginning with fiscal periods ending on or after June 15, 2019.

Section 16 Disclosure (Regulation S-K, Item 405 and Form 10-K). The caption for reporting delinquent reporting under Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act is changed from “Section 16(a) Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance” to “Delinquent Section 16(a) Reports,” and the checkbox on the cover page of Form 10-K related to such delinquencies is eliminated. Additionally, registrants are allowed to rely on Section 16 reports filed on EDGAR (as opposed to only paper copies of reports).

Investment Companies. The adopted amendments include parallel amendments to several rules and forms applicable to investment companies and investment advisers, including amendments that require certain investment company filings to include a hyperlink to each exhibit listed in the filings’ exhibit index and that require registrants to submit such filings in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) format. The requirements that all investment company registration statements and Form N-CSR filings be made in HTML format and comply with the hyperlink rule and form amendments applies to all filings made on or after April 1, 2020.

Except as otherwise noted, the amendments will be effective 30 days from publication in the Federal Register.

The above summaries are not comprehensive and provide only highlights of certain amendments. They do not reflect all of the amendments nor all of the rules and forms that are affected by the amendments.