From the SEC’s “Fast Answers” Page:
Rule 506 of Regulation D is considered a “safe harbor” for the private offering exemption ofSection 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act. Companies relying on the Rule 506 exemption can raise an unlimited amount of money. There are actually two distinct exemptions that fall under Rule 506.
Under Rule 506(b), a company can be assured it is within the Section 4(a)(2) exemption by satisfying the following standards:
- The company cannot use general solicitation or advertising to market the securities;
- The company may sell its securities to an unlimited number of “accredited investors” and up to 35 other purchases. Unlike Rule 505, all non-accredited investors, either alone or with a purchaser representative, must be sophisticated—that is, they must have sufficient knowledge and experience in financial and business matters to make them capable of evaluating the merits and risks of the prospective investment;
- Companies must decide what information to give to accredited investors, so long as it does not violate the antifraud prohibitions of the federal securities laws. But companies must give non-accredited investors disclosure documents that are generally the same as those used in registered offerings. If a company provides information to accredited investors, it must make this information available to non-accredited investors as well;
- The company must be available to answer questions by prospective purchasers; and
- Financial statement requirements are the same as for Rule 505.
Under Rule 506(c), a company can broadly solicit and generally advertise the offering, but still be deemed to be undertaking a private offering within Section 4(a)(2) if:
- The investors in the offering are all accredited investors; and
- The company has taken reasonable steps to verify that its investors are accredited investors, which could include reviewing documentation, such as W-2s, tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, credit reports and the like.
Purchasers of securities offered pursuant to Rule 506 receive “restricted” securities, meaning that the securities cannot be sold for at least a year without registering them.
Companies relying on the Rule 506 exemption do not have to register their offering of securities with the SEC, but they must file what is known as a “Form D” electronically with the SEC after they first sell their securities.
For more information about the private placement process, read SECLaw.com‘s Introduction to Private Placements, as well as the SEC’s Fast Answers for Rule 504, 505 and 506, and the SEC’s brochure, Small Business & the SEC.