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 SEC Rule 10 b 5-1 Plans..Klein Primer
 

SEC Rule 10 b 5-1 Plans..Klein Primer

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Good article on SEC Rule 10b-5 and 10 b-5-1

Good article on SEC Rule 10b-5 and 10 b-5-1

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     SEC Rule 10 b 5-1 Plans..Klein Primer SEC Rule 10 b 5-1 Plans..Klein Primer Document Transcript

    • A Primer on SEC Rule 10b5-1: AffirmativeDefenses For Insider TradingNovember 10, 2003Written By:Allan Horwich Andrew M. Kleint 312.258.5618 t 202.778.6415ahorwich@schiffhardin.com aklein@schiffhardin.comSCHIFF HARDIN LLP6600 Sears Tower 1101 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.Chicago,Illinois 60606 Suite 600t 312.258.5500 Washington, DC 20036f 312.258.5600 t 202.778.6400 f 202.778.6460www.schiffhardin.com
    • Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Rule 10b5-1, issued in 2000, provides a means for corporate insiders Q. What concern gave rise to the rule?and others to engage in certain prearranged securities A. While the leading cases delineating what constitutestransactions without running afoul of the prohibition on unlawful trading generally spoke in terms of the prohibitiontrading on the basis of material nonpublic information about on trading “on the basis of” material nonpublic information,the securities. It is unclear to what extent the rule has been it was not clear what that meant. In particular, there was noutilized. With the recent increase in stock prices, however, definitive authority whether liability could be based onthe utility of the rule should not be overlooked by trading while in mere possession of material nonpublicexecutives and other insiders who are searching for a information or whether the SEC in an enforcement action,means to diversify their portfolios or dispose of stock for for example, had to establish that the defendant actuallyother reasons when they may come into possession of made use of the material nonpublic information in decidingmaterial nonpublic information at a time when they would to trade. There were other gray areas, including theotherwise want to trade.1 situation where a person reached a decision to make aBecause the defenses provided by the rule are narrow and particular trade without any awareness of materialappear to be intended by the SEC to be the exclusive nonpublic information but then came into possession ofdefenses to a charge of unlawful insider trading in certain such information before the trade was executed.3circumstances, it is essential that those who intend to availthemselves of the rule clearly understand and scrupulouslyadhere to it. This summary is intended to promote an Q. What was the SEC’s resolution of this issue?understanding of the basic concepts of Rule 10b5-1 and itsutility. Because neither the SEC nor the courts have had A. The SEC concluded that a “knowing possession”occasion to interpret Rule 10b5-1, there are some areas of standard for a violation better accomplishes the goals ofuncertainty. Moreover, many of the subjects addressed by the prohibition on insider trading than a “use” test. At thethis summary are presented in general terms; careful same time, the SEC recognized that in some respects aattention should be exercised when taking advantage of strictly applied knowing possession standard could beRule 10b5-1, especially where it interacts with other SEC overbroad. Therefore, the SEC adopted an “awareness”rules, such as Rule 144 and Rule 13d-1. test with specific affirmative defenses that, in its view, “cover situations in which a person can demonstrate that the material nonpublic information was not a factor in the trading decision.”4 Rule 10b5-1 sets forth both the test andBackground the defenses.Q. What is the prohibition on insider trading?A. Prohibited insider trading is not defined in any statute or Rule 10b5-1regulation. The courts have established the principalelements of the prohibition. Stated very generally, a Q. What is the gist of Rule 10b5-1?corporate insider may not trade in that corporation’ssecurities on the basis of material nonpublic information A. According to the SEC, one element of a Rule 10b-5about the corporation, that is, significant information that violation is trading with an awareness of material nonpublichas not been publicly disclosed. Nor may a person trade on information. Rule 10b5-1 specifies when the decision isthe basis of material nonpublic information about any made without that awareness.company where the information has been misappropriatedfrom someone in breach of a duty. Further, one whoreceives material nonpublic information from an insider or a Q. Are the defenses provided in Rule 10b5-1misappropriator — called a “tippee” — may not trade on exclusive?the basis of that information if he knew or should have A. The SEC rejected suggestions that there be a generalknown that it was provided to him in breach of a duty to the “non-use” defense or that the defenses be non-exclusiveoriginal source of the information.2 safe harbors, on the grounds that that approach “would effectively negate the clarity and certainty that the rule attempts to provide.”5 This might be construed as meaning 2
    • that the SEC intended the rule’s defenses to be exclusive. cases will often depend on circumstantial evidence, just asFor this reason, strict adherence to the elements of a proof of “possession” or “use” has in prior cases.defense is advisable unless and until it becomes clear thatthe SEC did not so intend or a court determines that theSEC has overstepped its authority by too narrowlyinterpreting Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act The Affirmative Defensesand Rule 10b-5 itself.Some may refer to these defenses as “safe harbors,” which Q. When does an affirmative defense afforded by Rulethey are. This characterization should not obscure the fact 10b5-1 apply?that while some safe harbors apply where other facts and A. An affirmative defense applies when the provisions ofcircumstances may nevertheless give rise to protection the defense are satisfied so long as the action taken tounder the underlying statute, that may not have been the establish the defense was “in good faith and not as part ofSEC’s intention here. a plan or scheme to evade the prohibitions” of Section 10(b). Rule 10b5-1(c)(1)(ii).Q. What is the benefit of the rule?A. The rule has two obvious benefits. Q. What are the affirmative defenses?First, it provides significant guidance on how to structure A. The rule deems a purchase or sale to be not “on thesecurities transactions to avoid trading on the basis of basis of” material nonpublic information if — beforematerial nonpublic information. This makes it possible, for becoming “aware” of material nonpublic information — theexample, for an insider to engage in a regular liquidation person hadprogram to pay recurring expenses (e.g., college tuition) or • entered into a binding contract to purchase or sell theto diversify an investment portfolio without having to security — orsuspend or terminate that program if the insider becomes • instructed another person to purchase or sell theaware of material nonpublic information. security for the instructing person’s account — orSecond, where transactions are carried out in accordance • adopted a written plan for trading securities. Rulewith one or more of the defenses a corporate executive will 10b5-1(c)(1)(i)(A).be able to explain to the public that purchases or sales ofhis company’s stock were not based on any materialnonpublic information. This may have the collateral benefit Q. Does Rule 10b5-1 state what is meant by a contract,of dampening volatility in the stock price based on instruction or plan?speculation about why insider transactions occurred. A. Yes. The contract, instruction or plan must • specify the amount of securities to be purchased orQ. Under Rule 10b5-1, what constitutes trading “on the sold and the price at which and the date on which thebasis of” material nonpublic information? securities are to be purchased or sold — or • include a written formula or algorithm, or computerA. The rule defines trading “on the basis of” material program, for determining the amount of securities tononpublic information to mean that “the person making the be purchased or sold and the price at which and thepurchase or sale was aware of the material nonpublic date on which the securities are to be purchased orinformation when the person made the purchase or sale” sold — orunless an affirmative defense applies. Rule 10b5-1(b). • not permit the person to exercise any subsequent influence over how, when or whether to effect purchases or sales, provided that any other personQ. Does Rule 10b5-1 define what it means to be who, pursuant to the contract, instruction or plan, did“aware” of information? exercise such influence must not himself have beenA. The SEC defined “aware” to mean “having knowledge; aware of material nonpublic information when doingconscious; cognizant,”6 although this definition does not so.appear in the rule itself. Proof of awareness in litigated 3
    • Further, the transaction must be executed pursuant to the Q. Must a contract under Rule 10b5-1 be in writing?contract, instruction or plan. Rule 10b5-1(c)(1)(i)(B). A. No, the contract need not be in writing. Only a formula, algorithm or computer program need be in writing.7Q. What does the rule mean by “amount ofsecurities”? Q. Is a Rule 10b5-1 plan subject to approval by theA. “Amount” means either a specified number of securities issuer of the securities that are the subject of the plan?(such as shares of common stock) or a specified dollarvalue of securities. Rule 10b5-1(c)(1)(i)(C)(iii)(A). A. No, there is no legal requirement for issuer approval. Some companies may impose that requirement to assure that the terms of any plan for an officer or director conformQ. What does the rule mean by “price” of securities? to the company’s securities trading policy. For example, the company policy may prohibit trading at a time when a tradeA. “Price” means the market price on a particular date, a would otherwise be executed in compliance with thelimit price or a particular dollar price. Rule 10b5- trading plan. In that event either the plan should conform to1(c)(1)(i)(C)(iii)(B). Thus, an order to sell “at the market” on the company’s blackout restrictions or it may bea particular day satisfies the rule. appropriate to amend company policies to permit trades during “blackout periods” so long as the trade is in compliance with Rule 10b5-1. In any event, out of anQ. What does the rule mean by “date”? abundance of caution an officer or director should submitA. In the context of a sale at the market price, “date” the plan to company counsel for approval or comment.means the specific day of the year on which the order is tobe executed, or as soon thereafter as practicable underordinary principles of best execution of a securities Q. More generally, what impact does Rule 10b5-1 havetransaction. In the case of a limit order, “date” means a day on quarterly blackout periods that issuers impose onof the year on which the limit order is in force. Rule 10b5- some or all company personnel?1(c)(1)(i)(C)(iii)(C). For example, if a limit order is “good ’til A. The purpose of a blackout period, usually surroundingcanceled,” “date” means the time between when the order the announcement of quarterly earnings, is to minimize theis placed and when it is executed in accordance with its chance that someone will engage in an improper orterms, is canceled or expires under the broker’s rules that suspect transaction. Compliance with a blanket prohibitionprovide for automatic expiration of such an order. Any such as a blackout eliminates the risk that someone willcancellation must be in accordance with the parameters set exercise faulty judgment in trading, e.g., erroneouslyforth in the contract, instruction or plan that is in believing that the nonpublic information they have is notcompliance with the rule. material. In concept, the availability of the affirmative defenses underQ. Does this mean that in order to satisfy the Rule 10b5-1 should make it possible to except from theaffirmative defense a person must place an order to blackout those who establish a Rule 10b5-1 contract,sell a specific amount of securities — either in terms of instruction or plan when they are not aware of materialnumber of securities or total value of securities — at nonpublic information. Therefore, a public company couldthe market on a specified future date or pursuant to a provide that the blackout does not apply to those who havelimit order effective for a specific period? a Rule 10b5-1 compliant contract, instruction or plan in place, e.g., one that has been approved by the company.A. No. There are several ways to establish an affirmative Lifting the blackout generally to accommodate Rule 10b5-defense. Rule 10b5-1 also allows orders to be placed 1-protected transactions, however, diminishes thepursuant to a written formula or computer program that will simplicity and the prophylactic effect of the absolutegenerate the timing and price of the transaction blackout, where the company cannot reasonably scrutinizeindependent of any further instructions of the person each individual contract, instruction or plan to determine if itmaking the trade, so long as the formula or program was is compliant or cannot police trading to assure that it isput into place when the person was not aware of material conducted in all cases in conformity with the contract,nonpublic information. instruction or plan. 4
    • This concern can be alleviated if exclusion from the of the delegation, including some degree of proof that theblackout is permitted only where the person implements a person making the delegation did not retain any influencetrading plan that is in a form pre-approved or prescribed by over how, when or whether to effect a trade. Moreover,the company or the person provides the company with other regulations under the securities laws may require thatdocumentary evidence of granting another person certain grants of investment discretion be in writing.complete control over trading decisions.Alternatively, the company could retain the blackout and Q. Can the written program be based on a formula thatmandate that the terms of the blackout be included in any tracks a market index, market segment or group ofcovered person’s Rule 10b5-1 contract, instruction or plan, securities, for example, providing for purchases orso that there would be no purchases during the blackout sales of stock in an executive’s company based onperiod even where the contract, instruction or plan would movements of a group of stocks in the same industry?otherwise call for a transaction. A. Yes, as long as the concept is clearly defined. While theIn situations where a blackout is imposed for special final form of Rule 10b5-1 did not expressly include such apurposes, e.g., in anticipation of announcing a major defense, which had been in the rule as first proposed, thecorporate development, the company has the same option: SEC stated that the final rule encompassed thatit can except from the blackout transactions that are inaccordance with a pre-existing Rule 10b5-1 arrangement approach.9or can require that any contract, instruction or plan providethat it be suspended upon implementation of a blackout. Q. Did the SEC place any qualifications on the requirement that the actual transaction be inQ. Can a person, such as a corporate executive of a accordance with the contract, instruction or plan?publicly traded company, simply turn over to another A. Yes. A transaction is deemed not to have been madeperson authority to trade for the executive? pursuant to the contract, instruction or plan if the personA. Yes. The rule provides a defense where a person who entered into the contract, instruction or plan “altered ordelegates full authority to a second person, such as an deviated from the contract, instruction, or plan . . . whetherinvestment manager, to trade for the account of the first by changing the amount, price, or timing of the purchase orperson. This defense will be successful, however, only if sale . . . or entered into or altered a corresponding orthe delegation of authority was clear, the executive hedging transaction or position with respect to thoseexercised no authority whatsoever over the timing or other securities.” Rule 10b5-1(c)(1)(i)(C).aspects of the actual trading decision made by the secondperson, and the executed transaction was in accordancewith the terms of the authority that was granted. Moreover, Q. Is there any other affirmative defense?the delegation should be to someone who will not himself A. Yes. A further affirmative defense was provided forbecome aware of material nonpublic information about the entities, essentially codifying the information barriersecurities in question. If the person to whom authority was defense on which financial institutions have relied for manydelegated does become aware of such information, the years. Rule 10b5-1(c)(2).trade will have to independently satisfy one of the otheraffirmative defenses (e.g., that the trade was executed in A transaction by a non-natural person is not “on the basisaccordance with a written formula that was established of” material nonpublic information if two criteria arebefore the person effecting the trade became aware of the satisfied:information). • The natural person who made the actual investment decision for the entity was not aware of the material nonpublic information when that person made theQ. Must this delegation of authority be in writing? decision to trade — andA. Rule 10b5-1 does not require that the delegation of • The entity had implemented reasonable policies andtrading authority be in writing in order to sustain the procedures to ensure that individuals makingdefense.8 A written delegation of authority is strongly investment decisions would not violate the lawsrecommended, however, because it provides clear prohibiting trading on the basis of material nonpublicevidence of the fact of the delegation as well as the terms information, including policies and procedures that 5
    • restrict such individuals from becoming aware of create difficulties under existing insider trading law.12 Rule material nonpublic information. 10b5-1 underscores that trading under this approach isThe existence of effective information barriers thus affords permissible. However, as noted above, it is best that anyan additional defense for entities. Entities also can avail delegation of authority be in writing and that the delegationthemselves of the other affirmative defenses afforded by be to someone who is not likely to become aware ofRule 10b5-1. material nonpublic information and thus be disabled from directing the trading.Q. If a person makes a trade while aware of materialnonpublic information but does not use that Q. Does Rule 10b5-1 also apply to an investmentinformation in deciding to trade, is that unlawful? vehicle in which an insider has an interest?A. In the view of the SEC, that transaction would be A. Yes. For example, if an insider is an investor in aunlawful even if the information was not used in making the partnership that holds securities of the insider’s companydecision — unless one of the affirmative defenses in the and that insider has a decision-making role in therule can be established. The SEC adhered to its analysis partnership, a transaction by that partnership could posethat “a trader who is aware of inside information when an insider trading problem if it occurred when the insider-making a trading decision inevitably makes use of the partner was aware of material nonpublic information. If the partnership complies with Rule 10b5-1 when trading in theinformation.”10 As stated earlier, there may be challenges securities of the insider’s company — using either ato the SEC’s power to define exhaustively what is and what contract, instruction or plan defense or the informationis not a violation of Section 10(b), pursuant to which Rule barrier defense — the partnership and the partners should10b-5 was promulgated in the first place. Obviously, the be protected.best course is for persons who may come into possessionof (and thus become aware of) material nonpublicinformation to conduct their transactions in compliance with Q. Is there any particular time when a trading planRule 10b5-1. should be put in place? A. The only requirement under Rule 10b5-1 is that the planQ. The Supreme Court has held that proof of scienter can be put in place only when the person is not aware of— generally defined as an intent to deceive or reckless material nonpublic information about the issuer of the stockconduct — is necessary in order to establish a that is the subject of the plan. An ideal time to put a plan isviolation of Rule 10b-5. Does Rule 10b5-1 change this? place is during a “window” period under a company’s securities trading policy; this is the time when insiders areA. When it issued the rule, the SEC expressly stated that allowed to trade, which typically is shortly after theRule 10b5-1 deals only with the possession/use issue, that company has made a comprehensive disclosure, such asno other aspect of the law of insider trading is affected and on Form 10-K or Form 10-Q.that the scienter requirement remains intact.11 Q. Once a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan is put in place, canApplications of Rule 10b5-1 it be changed? A. Yes, so long as the change is made in good faith and atQ. If a person simply delegates authority to another a time when the person is not aware of material nonpublicperson to handle all trading, similar to a blind trust, will information. (This concept also applies to canceling thethat satisfy the affirmative defense if a trade occurs plan, discussed in the following answer.) Any subsequentwhen the person who delegated the authority was transaction made in accordance with a revised plan thataware of material nonpublic information at the time of complies with the rule will be protected. Good faith,the trade? however, may be questioned if the trader makes frequent changes in the trading plan. A plan that is often adjustedA. Yes. Indeed, when the SEC first proposed Rule 10b5-1 might be argued not to be a complying plan at all, butit said that true blind trusts do not need the protection of merely a succession of individual trading decisions thatthe rule at all because trading by a blind trust does not would not qualify for any of the defenses. 6
    • 10b5-1.14 That is, the affirmative defense is notQ. Can a plan or program be cancelled, rescinded or needed if there is no consummated transaction toabandoned? defend. It bears repeating that a program that is frequently cancelled and restarted may not qualify toA. The rule does not prohibit canceling, rescinding or protect a transaction because the program may beabandoning a program. A company or an insider ought to found not to have been established in good faith.15be able to call a halt to a program at any time, even if the • Cancellation of an established program may be a (truecompany or the insider has become aware of material or false) signal to those aware of the cancellation thatnonpublic information. Cancellation, rescission or material nonpublic information has motivated theabandonment of a program does not result in a purchase cancellation, when the insider has been required toor sale of a security that can be questioned under Rule disclose or otherwise has taken the affirmative step of10b-5. At the same time, purchases or sales pursuant to a announcing his trading plan in advance — e.g., toprogram that occurred prior to cancellation, rescission or defuse speculation about the reasons for hisabandonment of a particular program might be questioned transactions if they are later revealed or required to beif the act of halting the program occurs at a time when the reported.person effecting the halt is aware of material nonpublicinformation, on the grounds that such cancellation,rescission or abandonment should be regarded as Q. Can a corporation use Rule 10b5-1 in connectionevidence of bad faith and a “scheme” to evade the with repurchases of its own stock?strictures of Section 10(b). A. Yes. The SEC dealt specifically with this issue:Several points bear emphasis in this connection. “[A]n issuer could adopt a written plan, when it is• It is inherent in the concept of the defenses that the not aware of material nonpublic information, that initiator of a program may exercise no influence over uses a written formula to derive amounts, prices, the manner in which the program is carried out. That and dates. Or the plan could simply delegate all is, the person may not override a contract or the discretion to determine amounts, prices, and implementation pricing formula on a case-by-case dates to another person who is not aware of the basis, although programs can be amended consistent information — provided that the plan did not with the requirements of the rule. As already noted, a permit the issuer to (and in fact the issuer did frequently amended plan might not qualify under Rule not) exercise any subsequent influence over the 10b5-1, with the result that each transaction would have to satisfy the requirements of Rule 10b-5 purchases or sales.”16 independently. Either a written plan or a delegation of authority should• The affirmative defense may be used for a single conform to SEC Rule 10b-18, regarding issuer repurchases transaction, such as an order to a broker to buy or sell of equity securities, in order to take advantage of that safe a specified number of shares at the market or harbor from liability for manipulation under Section 9(a)(2) pursuant to a limit order, so long as the order was of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5. In this placed when the person was not aware of material connection it is important to note that Rule 10b-18 nonpublic information. The placement of the order and encompasses not only repurchases by or on behalf of the its terms should be documented when it is placed.13 issuer but also repurchases by an “affiliated purchaser”• Only a purchase or sale on the basis of material (Rule 10b-18(a)(3) and (b)), and so that an issuer’s nonpublic information violates Rule 10b-5. A decision transactions that are intended to be protected by the not to sell or buy does not violate that rule. Therefore, manipulation safe harbor must take into account, among if a person who has put in place a regular selling other transactions, an affiliated purchaser’s transactions program that complies with Rule 10b5-1 later comes that are executed unbeknownst to the affiliated purchaser into favorable material nonpublic information and thus pursuant to a pre-existing Rule 10b5-1 plan. Issuer decides he does not want to sell the stock can repurchases should be reported as summarized in terminate the program, unless the contract, instruction Preliminary note 2 to Rule 10b-18 as amended effective in or plan is constructed in a way that precludes December 2003. Delegation of discretion should be to an termination. Such termination, by itself, would not entity that itself either is unlikely to become aware of violate the law, even if termination, and the right to material nonpublic information regarding the issuer or, at terminate, were held to undermine compliance Rule the very least, can qualify for the information barrier 7
    • defense provided by Rule 10b5-1(c)(2), so that those who the position that the exercise of the option — even thoughwould be making the trading decisions for the issuer’s it is the exercise of a pre-existing contractual right whererepurchase program would be isolated from others in the the writer of the option has no choice but to honor anentity who might become aware of such information. exercise notice — is an investment decision by the holderAlternatively, an issuer itself can also take advantage of the of the option in which material nonpublic information can beentity defense in Rule 10b5-1(c)(2).17 exploited in violation of Rule 10b-5. Therefore, if a person is aware of material nonpublic information, under the SEC’s interpretation he cannot exercise the option unless theQ. Employees, including non-executives, may become transaction is covered by one of the affirmative defenses.aware of material nonpublic information at a time when Compliance with the defense could, however, bethey would otherwise pay the exercise price of stock accomplished through a program of exercises pursuant tooptions by selling stock or buy stock in an employee a written protocol — adopted when the person did not havebenefit plan, such as a 401(k) plan. Does the rule afford such information — that specified the dates of exercise,any protection in these situations? series of options to be exercised where there was more than one series owned and the number of options to beA. Yes. An employee can adopt a written plan with a exercised, or specified a formula for exercising.21formula for determining the specified percentage of hervested options to be exercised and selling sufficient sharesto pay the exercise price. In the case of a stock purchase Q. Does the same principle apply to an over-the-or 401(k) plan, the employee can instruct the plan counter option?administrator to purchase stock pursuant to apredetermined plan or formula.18 The instructions should A. The SEC’s analysis described in answer to thebe in writing that complies with the rule. preceding question would apply equally to the holder of an over-the-counter option. A violation could be avoided by the holder who wishes to exercise the option in thatQ. Do any special rules apply to trading in a self- situation by disclosing the material nonpublic information todirected benefit plan pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1 plan? the counterparty pursuant to a confidentiality agreement that precludes the counterparty from disclosing or tradingA. Yes. Under Section 306 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of on the basis of the information. This entirely private2002 it is unlawful for a director or executive officer of a transaction, i.e., one not conducted on an exchange,public company to trade in the stock of the company during should not then pose any Rule 10b-5 problem for thea blackout period applicable to that security, where option holder-exerciser. Of course, this solution is not“blackout period” means a suspension of or restriction on available in the case of standardized options because thetrading activity in a benefit plan for a period of more than option holder and option writer are strangers — there is nothree consecutive business days. SEC Regulation BTR as means by which the exerciser can make a limitedwell as rules of the Department of Labor have implemented disclosure to the writer in order to avoid what the SECthis prohibition. During such a blackout a transaction that is believes is a Rule 10b-5 violation. In both cases, at thein compliance with Rule 10b5-1(c) is exempt from this time the option is acquired and when the holder was notprohibition, so long as the person did not enter into or aware of material nonpublic information, the option holdermodify the contract, instruction or written plan during the could provide for exercise of the option at expiration if it isblackout period or while aware of the actual or approximate in-the-money at that time (and has not been closed out) —beginning and ending dates of the blackout period.19 an instruction that would comply with the new rule. This also raises a point that may have been overlooked by the SEC when commenting on the propriety of developingQ. Can a person exercise a standardized call or put a plan for selling stock in order to exercise company stockoption, i.e., one that was purchased on one of the options, noted above. Even under the SEC’s broad theoryoptions exchanges, while aware of material nonpublic that the exercise of an option when in possession ofinformation regarding the issuer of the underlying material nonpublic information can violate Rule 10b-5,stock without having to satisfy one of the affirmative there would ordinarily be no problem in exercising adefenses? company-issued option, because the company presumablyA. Not according to the SEC.20 This may be one of the has that same nonpublic information. This principle wouldmore controversial aspects of Rule 10b5-1. The SEC takes not apply, however, if the optionee had misappropriated 8
    • information from a third party that favorably reflected on the case the pledgor had the right to pay the loan and hiscompany that issued the option but which was not (yet) decision not to pay reflects control over the sale that isknown to the company, e.g., that a customer was about to inconsistent with Rule 10b5-1. A limited exception to thisplace a major order. Under the SEC’s broad theory, the principle is when the broker did not give notice to theoption holder could not exercise the option without making pledgor before selling the stock and the broker itself did notdisclosure to the issuer. Many complex unresolved issues have material nonpublic information.23remain regarding the interplay of options and Rule 10b5-1. Q. Does Rule 10b5-1 have any effect on Section 16 ofQ. How does Rule 10b5-1 affect hedging transactions? the Securities Exchange Act or the rules under SectionA. As already noted, a purchase or sale is not pursuant to 16?a contract, instruction or plan in compliance with the rule if A. Section 16 and its rules, which deal with transactions bythe person who entered into the arrangement also entered certain officers, directors and owners of 10% of the equityinto or altered a corresponding or hedging transaction or securities of a public company, are unaffected by Ruleposition with respect to the securities after establishing the 10b5-1. The SEC has drafted the affirmative defenses “socontract, instruction or plan. Rule 10b5-1(c)(1)(i)(C). that their conditions should not conflict with the conditionsBecause it is permissible to change the contract, instruction of Section 16 exemptive rules.”24 Thus, if a programmedor plan at any time before one becomes aware of material trade resulted in a transaction reportable under Sectionnonpublic information, one ought to be able to enter into or 16(a), a Form 4 should be filed as it would be for any suchalter the hedge or other position so long as that, too, transaction, and if programmed trades resulted in a short-occurred before becoming aware of the material nonpublic swing profit, no matter how unintended, the profit wouldinformation. For example, certain hedges expire by their have to be paid to the issuer under Section 16(b). Thus,terms; it should be possible to reestablish such a hedge as special care must be exercised to establish a protocol forpart of the Rule 10b5-1 plan. Nevertheless, because the compliance with Section 16.SEC has not expressly provided for that, this aspect ofhedging should be viewed as an unresolved issue.The SEC interprets Rule 10b5-1 not to permit dynamic Q. Does Rule 10b5-1 have any effect on Rule 144 forhedging by institutions that seek to rely on the information sales of securities of restricted stock or sales bybarrier affirmative defense where the individual who affiliates of the issuer?manages the hedge at the trading desk is aware of material A. Rule 10b5-1 has no direct effect on Rule 144. However,nonpublic information.22 This problem can be avoided anyone selling securities covered by Rule 144 must beeither by segregating personnel so that those who manage sure that any contract, instruction or plan is consistent withthe hedge are not made aware of the information or by Rule 144 and that any required filing of Form 144 is madeestablishing a formula for the hedge before the entity in anticipation of possible sales triggered bybecomes aware of material nonpublic information. This implementation of the contract, instruction or plan. In otherunderscores that entities are not limited to the information words, even though the owner is not in control of when thebarrier defense. sales are made, Rule 144 and the filing requirements with respect to Form 144 must nevertheless be complied with.25Q. How does Rule 10b5-1 apply in the context of Form 144 contains a certification that the seller “does notselling securities that have been pledged by someone know any material adverse information in regard to thewho comes into possession of adverse material current and prospective operations of the Issuer of thenonpublic information? securities to be sold which has not been publicly disclosed.” Because the timing of a sale under a RuleA. Generally speaking, if a person has pledged securities, 10b5-1 plan, and thus the timing of filing a Form 144, ise.g., for a bank loan or a margin loan, at a time when the inherently outside the control of the seller, the SEC staffperson was not aware of material nonpublic information permits modification of Form 144 to make theregarding the issuer of the securities and the loan then representation as of the date the Rule 10b5-1 plan iscomes due or a margin call is issued when the person is adopted or the Rule 10b5-1 compliant instructions areaware of such information, a sale of the collateral in the given, specifying that date.26open market will not be protected by Rule 10b5-1; in each 9
    • Rule 10b5-1 may be of particular use to persons subject to A. Any transaction entered into pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1Rule 144. A person may not be able to sell securities until compliant contract, instruction or plan that would otherwiseher holding period expires under Rule 144. While waiting be prohibited by Regulation M would still be prohibited byfor the period to expire, however, she may become aware that regulation. Therefore, the Rule 10b5-1 plan must haveof material nonpublic information that would preclude a a built in trigger so that it is suspended in the event that asale when the holding period later expires. Before transaction pursuant to the plan would violate Regulationbecoming aware of material nonpublic information she M.should put a Rule 10b5-1 sale program into effect that willbe implemented upon expiration of the holding period. Thiswill permit sales after the holding period expires even if by Q. Are there other circumstances that should give risethen she has learned material nonpublic information. At the to an automatic suspension or termination of a Rulesame time, special problems may arise if the person 10b5-1 plan?seeking to use Rule 144 is one whose transactions areaggregated with an affiliate of that person for purposes of A. Yes. Rule 10b5-1 provides a defense only to a claim ofdetermining compliance with the transaction volume a violation of Rule 10b-5. There is also a prohibition on insider trading — buying or selling — in Rule 14e-3, whenlimitations of Rule 144(e).27 a person is in possession of material nonpublic information regarding a tender offer. Because Rule 10b5-1 does not expressly provide a defense in the event that the personQ. Does Rule 10b5-1 have any effect on Schedule 13D who establishes a trading plan comes into possession offiling requirements? material nonpublic information regarding a tender offer, theA. Any person subject to Schedule 13D requirements, plan should provide for cancellation when the personwhich apply where the person is the beneficial owner of comes into possession of that kind of information. Ofmore than 5% of a class of equity security registered under course, to be effective, the person needs to communicatethe Exchange Act, must comply with those requirements that fact, on a confidential basis, to the entity that iswith respect to any trades made pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1 implementing the plan. Alternatively, the person whoseprogram. For example, if purchases under the program plan does not include that automatic termination clauseresult in the acquisition of a material additional amount of should unilaterally terminate the plan upon learning of thesecurities (1% being deemed material for these information regarding the tender offer. Rule 14e-3(b),purposes28), an amended Schedule 13D must be filed. however, contains a defense for an entity comparable toLikewise, if sales pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1 program result Rule 10b5-1(c)(2).in ownership falling to 5% or below, an amended Schedule13D should be filed. Members of a “group” filing aSchedule 13D, one of more of whom may have Q. Is there any requirement to disclose existence of aindependent Rule 10b5-1 programs in effect, must Rule 10b5-1 plan?exchange information to assure that timely amendments A. At the present time there is no requirement to discloseare filed. the existence of a Rule 10b5-1 plan unless disclosure isIn addition, Item 4(a) of Schedule 13D requires disclosure required under some other statute or rule, such as underof “any plans . . . which relate to or would result in [t]he Section 13(d) as discussed above. Some companies haveacquisition . . . of additional securities of the issuer, or the made voluntary disclosure.29 In April 2002 the SECdisposition of the securities of the issuer.” This requires proposed to amend Form 8-K by adding what was thendisclosure of any Rule 10b5-1 contract, instruction or plan, identified as proposed Item 10(b), which would requireand an amendment to the Schedule 13D to reflect any disclosure regarding any Rule 10b5-1 plan of any directorchange in a previously disclosed Rule 10b5-1 contract, or executive officer of the registrant.30 The proposal hasinstruction or plan. neither been adopted nor withdrawn.31Q. Does Rule 10b5-1 have any effect on Regulation M Q. Can a person who has a Rule 10b5-1 plan orwhen the issuer with which the person is affiliated is instruction in place engage in a transaction in theengaged in a distribution of securities? same securities independently of the plan? 10
    • A. Yes. As a general matter the better rule appears to bethat existence of a plan or instruction does not precludeanother transaction, so long as it is not otherwise inviolation of Rule 10b-5 and is not a prohibited hedgingtransaction. If shares that are the subject of the plan aresold or options that are subject to the plan are exercised,that may be deemed to be a modification of the plan,however, which would have to comply with Rule 10b5-1. 11
    • About the AuthorsAllan Horwich is a partner of Schiff Hardin LLP resident inits Chicago office. He is also a Senior Lecturer atNorthwestern University School of Law. He may bereached at ahorwich@schiffhardin.com.Andrew M. Klein is a partner of Schiff Hardin LLP residentin its Washington, D.C. office. He is a former Director of theSEC’s Division of Market Regulation. He may be reachedat aklein@schiffhardin.com. 12
    • For Further InformationIf you have any questions about the SEC’s new Rule 10b5-1, please contact any of the following Schiff Hardin attorneys: Paul E. Dengel pdengel@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5614 James L. Eastman jeastman@schiffhardin.com 202.778.6455 Patricia N. Gillman pgillman@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5537 Stuart L. Goodman sgoodman@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5711 Frederick L. Hartmann fhartmann@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5656 Allan Horwich ahorwich@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5618 Andrew M. Klein aklein@schiffhardin.com 202.778.6415 Howard L. Kramer hkramer@schiffhardin.com 202.778.6414 Shirley M. Lukitsch slukitch@schiffhardin.com 202.778.6477 David S. McCarthy dmccarthy@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5653 Michael L. Meyer mmeyer@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5713 Robert J. Minkus rminkus@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5584 André E. Owens aowens@schiffhardin.com 202.778.6425 Robert J. Regan rregan@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5606 Burton R. Rissman brissman@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5684 Carl A. Royal croyal@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5707 Robert B. Wilcox, Jr. rwilcox@schiffhardin.com 312.258.5590 13
    • 22 Adopting Release at note 125.1 The rule was proposed in SEC Release 34-42259 (Dec. 23 Telephone Inter., Rule 10b5-1, Questions 8-9.20, 1999), available at 24 Adopting Release at text at note 123.http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/34-42259.htm 25 Telephone Interp, Rule 10b5-1, Question 1.(“Proposing Release”). The rule was adopted in SEC 26 Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Question 2.Release 33-7881 (Aug. 15, 2000), available athttp://www.sec.gov/rules/final/33-7781.htm (“Adopting 27 Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Questions 3-4, 12.Release”), which also contains the text of the rule. The rule 28 SEC Rule 13d-2(a).became effective October 23, 2000. 29 See, e.g., Form 8-K filed by JDS Uniphase Corporation2 See generally Dirks v. SEC, 463 U.S. 646 (1983); United dated February 28, 2001, available atStates v. O’Hagan, 421 U.S. 642 (1997). http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912093/000089163 See generally Donna M. Nagy, “The ‘Possession vs. Use’ 1801500085/f70044e8-k.txt.Debate in the Context of Securities Trading by Traditional 30 SEC Release 33-8090 (April 12, 2002), available atInsiders: Why Silence Can Never be Golden,” 67 U. Cin. L. http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/33-8090.htm.Rev. 1129 (1999); Allan Horwich, “Possession versus Use: 31 See SEC Release 34-46313, text at note 16 (Aug. 6,Is there a Causation Element in the Prohibition on Insider 2002), available at http://www.sec.gov/rules/other/34-Trading?,” 52 Bus. Law. 1235 (1997).4 Adopting Release at text at note 115. 46313.htm.5 Adopting Release at III.A.1.6 Adopting Release at note 105.7 SEC Division of Corporation Finance: Manual of PubliclyAvailable Telephone Interpretations, Fourth Supplement(May 30, 2001), available athttp://www.sec.gov/interps/telephone/phonesupplement4.htm. (“Telephone Interp.”), Rule 10b5-1, Question 17.8 Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Question 17.9 Adopting Release at note 110.10 Adopting Release at text at note 104.11 Adopting Release at III.A.1.12 Proposing Release at note 91.13 Examples of compliant and non-compliant limit ordersare addressed at Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1,Questions 11.14 As a general matter, Rule 10b-5 prohibits certaintransactions only in connection with a consummatedpurchase or sale. Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores,421 U.S. 723 (1975). See Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1,Question 15(a).15 See, e.g., Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Question15(b).16 Adopting Release at text at note 116.17 Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Question 18.18 Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Question 16.19 Regulation BTR, Section 101(c)(2).20 Adopting Release at note 115. See also TelephoneInterp, Rule 10b5-1, Question 5.21 See, e.g., Telephone Interp., Rule 10b5-1, Question 6. 14