Growth Companies

SEC May Take Another Stab at Venture Exchanges

The SEC is once again concerned with how to increase liquidity for micro- and small-cap companies' securities.
Katie Kuehner-HebertFebruary 23, 2015
SEC May Take Another Stab at Venture Exchanges

Startups may be able to get access to more capital via “venture exchanges” promoted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White told reporters outside the Practising Law Institute’s “SEC Speaks” conference that the agency is considering whether to promote the creation of such exchanges, to help smaller companies get listed and actively traded, according to a Reuters story.

“It is something we have been encouraging for some time,” White told Reuters and other media outlets. “There have been venture exchanges approved by the SEC before. What we are looking at is how do we improve … the liquidity for the securities of small companies.”

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Current public listing standards are often too costly and rigorous for small companies, critics contend, and for those that do list, their stock is often less liquid, Reuters wrote.

As such, SEC Republican Commissioner Daniel Gallagher has been seeking the creation of venture exchanges as well as promoting other ways for the agency to help startup companies. The JOBS Act, passed in 2012, eased certain burdens on small companies trying to raise capital and go public, but critics contend the law fell short.

According to Reuters, U.S.-based venture exchanges have not been that successful, compared with some in Canada, including TMX Group’s exchange. TMX has 80 U.S. companies among its 2,200 listings, chief executive Lou Eccleston recently told Reuters. TMX may one day launch a similar exchange in the United States, Eccleston reportedly said.

The TSX Venture Exchange from TMX focuses on micro and small cap companies that do not satisfy the listing criteria for the Toronto Stock Exchange. TSX is described as a “public venture equity market.”

Before the SEC actually gives the green light for any venture exchange, the agency should first scrutinize why earlier efforts failed, SEC Democratic Commissioner Luis Aguilar told Reuters. “I know Congress is interested in this issue,” Commissioner Gallagher said.

Featured image: Thinkstock

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