Filing Relief for Texans: Case-By-Case, But Proceed With Caution
As a Minnesotan who relies heavily on heat and electricity during the winter months, I’ve been flabbergasted by this week’s dispatches from Texan friends and colleagues. We are keeping y’all in our thoughts and hoping your power is restored soon.
We’ve had some inquiries on whether the SEC is offering weather-related filing relief to companies located in the Lone Star State. A gracious member shared this info in our Q&A Forum (#10,619):
This is what I was told today by the SEC Staff (Office of Chief Counsel). By the way, I am in Austin and we have no water, over 48 hours no power and I am working from a phone hotspot/makeshift solar panel attached to batteries, so yes, it is truly a survivalist situation out here in Texas — I hope everyone is staying safe!
The SEC is aware of the power grid failures/inclement weather and related challenges in Texas and wants to help issuers experiencing the effects of these challenges.
If you are an issuer with a filing deadline that you cannot meet due to the situation in Texas, such as an 8-K or Section 16 filing, the SEC encourages you or your counsel to contact the SEC staff to make them aware of the situation (via firstname.lastname@example.org and follow-up with a call to the staff) and you can request a date adjustment of the filing per Rule 13(b) of Regulation S-T: “If an electronic filer in good faith attempts to file a document with the Commission in a timely manner but the filing is delayed due to technical difficulties beyond the electronic filer’s control, the electronic filer may request an adjustment of the filing date of such document. The Commission, or the staff acting pursuant to delegated authority, may grant the request if it appears that such adjustment is appropriate and consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors.” The filing should be made as soon as it is practicable to file and the staff can assist the issuer in adjusting the filing date afterwards.
For the upcoming 10-K filing deadline (March 1 for LAFs), the SEC is monitoring the situation and *may* issue more broad filing relief (as it did last year around this time at the beginning of the COVID pandemic), but they will not make that call unless there are still issues going into next week and it believes that broad relief is warranted by the situation.
In short, they are monitoring the situation but in the time being, they are only working with issuers on a case-by-case basis.
That being said, issuers may want to be judicious about requesting relief, because it might suggest that the company does not have sufficient contingency plans to continue normal operations during emergencies such as prolonged power outages. But the SEC will work with issuers who are experiencing a hardship.
-Liz Dunshee, TheCorporateCounsel.net February 18, 2021
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