Canada: Projet de hausser à 30 % le seuil de déclaration d'une acquisition d'entreprise afin d'alléger le fardeau réglementaire des émetteurs assujettis

Les Autorités canadiennes en valeurs mobilières (ACVM) souhaitent alléger l'obligation de déclarer une acquisition d'entreprise imposée aux émetteurs assujettis. Les ACVM proposent une condition à deux critères et un seuil plus élevé des critères de significativité, qui passerait à 30 % pour les émetteurs assujettis non émergents. Les modifications proposées ont été publiées le 5 septembre 2019 et s'inscrivent dans la volonté des ACVM d'alléger le fardeau réglementaire des émetteurs assujettis, énoncée dans leur document de consultation de 2017, en réduisant les cas où il faut produire une déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise accompagnée d'états financiers audités.

Une condition à deux critères

Selon les modifications proposées, les émetteurs assujettis seraient uniquement tenus de déposer une déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise s'il est satisfait à deux des trois critères de significativité existants prévus par le Règlement 51-102 sur les obligations d'information continue (Règlement 51-102) en fonction d'un seuil des critères de significativité rehaussé de 30 %. Cette « condition à deux critères » découle de l'examen par les ACVM des commentaires reçus lors de la consultation ainsi que de l'analyse des déclarations d'acquisition d'entreprise déposées et des dispenses discrétionnaires de dépôt accordées sur une période de trois ans.

Obligations relatives à la déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise

À l'heure actuelle, les émetteurs assujettis doivent déposer une déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise après la réalisation d'une « acquisition significative ». Une acquisition est considérée comme étant significative lorsque le niveau obtenu pour l'un des trois critères de significativité prévus par le Règlement 51-102 excède 20 % (ou 100 % si l'émetteur assujetti est un émetteur émergent). Les déclarations d'acquisition d'entreprise à déposer doivent être accompagnées de l'information financière comparative de l'entreprise acquise pour les deux derniers exercices (information qui doit être auditée pour l'un de ces exercices), ainsi que des états financiers pro forma de l'entreprise issue du regroupement, entre autres.

Avantages considérables des modifications proposées

Les règles régissant actuellement les déclarations d'acquisition d'entreprise peuvent limiter la capacité des émetteurs assujettis d'accéder aux marchés canadiens des capitaux, de réaliser des acquisitions et de mobiliser du financement pour des acquisitions. L'expérience a démontré qu'il n'est souvent pas facile d'obtenir les états financiers passés d'une entreprise acquise. L'émetteur doit généralement engager des frais considérables ou, dans des circonstances appropriées, demander des dispenses discrétionnaires des obligations relatives à la déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise. De plus, les critères de significativité actuels peuvent surévaluer l'importance d'une acquisition du point de vue pratique, commercial, financier ou de l'entreprise, rendant l'information connexe confuse et moins avantageuse pour les investisseurs, si bien qu'elle ne vaut finalement pas le temps et l'argent nécessaires pour la préparer. Dans leur projet, les ACVM reconnaissent ces préoccupations, notant que les obligations relatives à la déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise peuvent représenter un fardeau pour les émetteurs assujettis sans procurer un avantage équivalent aux investisseurs.

Comme accompagnement à l'avis de consultation des ACVM, la Commission des valeurs mobilières de l'Ontario (CVMO) a publié une analyse qualitative et quantitative des coûts et avantages prévus des modifications proposées. En particulier, l'analyse révèle que l'adoption des modifications proposées entraînerait des économies considérables de coûts pour les émetteurs. La CVMO estime que :

  • La réduction totale des coûts attribuable à la diminution des demandes de dispenses discrétionnaires des obligations relatives aux déclarations d'acquisition d'entreprise qui seraient déposées chaque année serait de 71 370 $ à 93 850 $;
  • La réduction totale des coûts attribuable à la diminution du nombre de déclarations d'acquisition d'entreprise qui seraient déposées chaque année serait de 1 577 880 $ à 1 620 000 $.

Outre les répercussions économiques directes, les modifications proposées pourraient aussi alléger le fardeau des émetteurs qui réalisent des placements par voie de prospectus, notamment des premiers appels publics à l'épargne, puisque les obligations relatives à la déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise et les critères de significativité font partie des obligations relatives au prospectus lorsque l'émetteur a effectué ou effectuera probablement une acquisition et qu'aucune déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise n'a encore été déposée.

Émetteurs qui sont des émetteurs émergents ou des fonds d'investissement

Le seuil des critères de significativité applicable aux émetteurs émergents ne sera pas touché par les modifications proposées. Les émetteurs émergents n'ont pas à appliquer le « critère du résultat » pour déterminer si une acquisition est significative et, depuis le 30 juin 2015, le seuil pour les émetteurs émergents est de 100 %. Le même seuil rehaussé s'applique à l'information à fournir dans le prospectus dans le cadre d'acquisitions significatives ainsi qu'à l'« information prescrite pour le prospectus » à fournir dans certaines circulaires. De même, les modifications proposées n'affecteront pas les émetteurs qui sont des fonds d'investissement qui ne sont généralement pas tenus de se conformer au Règlement 51-102.

Période de consultation

Les ACVM acceptent les commentaires sur les modifications proposées jusqu'au 4 décembre 2019. Pour obtenir plus de renseignements, veuillez vous reporter à l'Avis de consultation des ACVM – Projets de Règlement modifiant le Règlement 51-102 sur les obligations d'information continue et de modification de certaines instructions générales concernant les obligations relatives à la déclaration d'acquisition d'entreprise.

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