private investment funds

The SEC’s new and proposed rules on cybersecurity and cyber-incident reporting will have a dual impact on private investment advisers and funds. 

First, the proposal by the SEC will impose cybersecurity related obligations on investment advisers, registered investment companies and business development companies, with a final rule in this sector (the “adviser cybersecurity rule”) expected in April 2024. 

On Friday, March 10, 2023, Silicon Valley Bank (“SVB”) became the largest U.S. lender since the Great Financial Crisis to enter into receivership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. SVB was a major provider of depository services and liquidity to various investment funds, managers and their related entities through subscription

Sanctions continue to be a dynamic area of regulation and enforcement. In its first year, the Biden Administration has already undertaken a number of different sanctions initiatives. The three examples below highlight the range of strategies employed and their potential ramifications for private investment funds.

Privacy and cybersecurity issues continue to garner significant attention in the U.S. and abroad. As private investment funds registered with the SEC and their portfolio companies see increased regulatory scrutiny relating to privacy and cybersecurity in the U.S., Proskauer’s Margaret Dale, Todd Ohlms, Jonathan Weiss, Kelly McMullon and Hena Vora

As a result of Brexit, UK-regulated firms will already have grappled with loss of passporting and equivalence measures, and the need to navigate national regimes and relocate staff. As of today, EU firms operating in the UK have a temporary permissions regime with the UK having set out its approach to equivalence, but this remains a one-way street and the EU has made it clear that it will decide its own approach in its own time. 2021 will begin to reveal the full extent of market fragmentation and the resulting impact on liquidity. As of 2021, EU law no longer applies in the UK (save for where elements of it have been expressly incorporated into national law). We can therefore expect divergence in approaches between the EU and the UK in terms of legislation and regulation, especially as the EU’s Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) and Market in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) will be updated over the next few years. Funds can therefore expect the regulatory burden to increase.

A significant ownership stake in a portfolio company has always raised the specter of claims against funds, sponsors, and sponsor-appointed board designees, if for no other reason than they are perceived by the plaintiffs’ bar to be deep pockets.  This risk has only increased in recent years, as it has

Valuation practices will continue to be the subject of disputes. Particularly in times of economic disruption and market volatility, buyers and sellers are more likely to have substantial differences of opinions on valuation, which often lead to the use of earn-outs and resulting post-closing disputes. Use of a cost basis

The past year saw a burst in popularity of SPACs. More than half of companies that went public in 2020 did so using a SPAC on their way to raising over $80 billion in proceeds, and so far in 2021 SPAC offerings far outpace traditional IPOs. SPACs allow companies to go public with greater speed and with fewer hurdles than a traditional IPO. These innovations combined with unprecedented deal volume may signal an increased risk for disputes, especially where the SPAC process and structure can present unique pitfalls.

For example, SPACs must issue registration statements and proxies in advance of acquiring a target company, which require compliance with Sections 11 and 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act.  But unlike in traditional IPOs, SPAC target companies may disclose projections of future performance before shareholders vote on whether to move forward with a merger, and failure to meet those projections could lead to litigation by shareholders or the SEC. The SEC has issued guidance on the types of disclosures that SPACs specifically should keep in mind, including disclosures pertaining to sponsors’, officers’ and directors’ financial incentives, prior SPAC experience, and conflicts of interest with other entities to which they owe fiduciary duties.  SPACs also often raise money through PIPE (private offering in public equity) transactions, which allow for private investment on special terms, but those require separate disclosures and result in an additional set of shareholders who could later bring claims. By their nature, SPACs also present a number of other regulatory risks, including risks relating to MNPI, valuation, and conflicts of interest.

Many portfolio companies continue to confront business disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even prior to the pandemic, we were seeing an uptick in litigation claims against sponsors and funds arising out of portfolio companies. The liquidity challenges since March have increased those risks at some companies. For sponsors, many of these risks arise from director positions and conflicts of interest, whether real or alleged. Below we provide tangible ways for fund sponsors to identify risks, educate their directors, and mitigate risk.