ETF News

SEC examines rules for private firms after Facebook deal-report

Jan 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. securities regulator is scrutinizing whether it needs to update the disclosure rules for privately-held firms as a result of recent deals allowing investors to buy shares in Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The rules require firms with 500 or more shareholders of record in a given type of stock to publicly disclose certain financial information, in order to safeguard investors’ interest, the Journal said.

The inspection is at an early stage, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not concluded that any of such deals broke these rules regulating private companies, the paper said.

The SEC did not immediately respond to an email seeking comments by Reuters.

Facebook raised $500 million from Goldman Sachs and Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies, in a deal that values the world’s No.1 Internet social networking company at $50 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. [DI:nLDE70311C]

The efforts by Facebook to raise as much as $1.5 billion outside of regulated markets is the latest test of the walls between private and public markets. [ID:nN04243667]

Following the Goldman Sachs-Facebook deal, the Journal said SEC investigators also plan to examine special-purpose vehicles to verify if they are being designed to evade the 500-shareholder rule, it said.

Goldman and Facbook declined to comment to the Journal.

Along with revising rules to protect investors from risking their money on firms that disclose little information about their operations, the SEC is also trying to consider the demands of private firms to raise funds, the Journal reported.

Goldman was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours, while Facebook could not be reached for comment by Reuters. (Reporting by Abhinav Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Anshuman Daga)