Yesterday, the SEC announced a 98-page release to repropose amendments to Regulation M that would remove the references to credit rating agencies from existing exceptions provided in Rule 101 and Rule 102. Section 939A of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed the Commission to remove references to credit ratings included in certain rules, and this is the SEC’s third attempt for these particular amendments; they were initially proposed in 2008 and then reproposed in 2011. The fact sheet explains what the proposal aims to do:
Proposed Amendments to Regulation M
The Commission proposed to remove the requirement that nonconvertible debt securities, nonconvertible preferred securities, and asset-backed securities be rated investment grade by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization. In place of that requirement, under Rule 101, the Commission proposed to except (1) nonconvertible debt securities and nonconvertible preferred securities of issuers having a probability of default of less than 0.055%, as measured over certain period of time and as determined and documented using a “structural credit risk model,” as defined in the rule, and (2) asset-backed securities that are offered pursuant to an effective shelf registration statement filed on the Commission’s Form SF-3. The Commission proposed to eliminate from Rule 102 the existing exception for investment grade nonconvertible debt securities, nonconvertible preferred securities, and asset-backed securities.
To aid the Commission in its examination and oversight of broker-dealers who are distribution participants or affiliated purchasers and rely on the proposed exception in Rule 101 for certain nonconvertible debt securities and nonconvertible preferred securities, new paragraph (b)(17) of Rule 17a-4 would require those broker-dealers to retain the written probability of default determination supporting their reliance on the exception. Rule 17a-4(b)(17) would require broker-dealers relying on Rule 101’s exception for certain nonconvertible debt securities and nonconvertible preferred securities to preserve, for a period of not less than three years, the first two years in an easily accessible place, the written probability of default determination.
The comment period will remain open for 60 days following publication of the proposing release on the SEC’s website or 30 days following publication in the Federal Register, whichever period is longer. We’ll be posting memos in our Credit Ratings Practice Area.
— Liz Dunshee, TheCorporateCounsel.net, March 24, 2022