As discussed in earlier blog posts, as a result of various FAST Act mandated changes to Regulation S-K, which were adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and became effective in May 2019, a registrant may omit a discussion of the earliest of three years in a filing that includes financial statements covering three years to the extent that the discussion of such earlier year was already included in an SEC filing. The SEC Staff has provided three Compliance & Disclosure Interpretations, reprinted below for convenience, relating to this change:
Question: A registrant providing financial statements covering three years in a filing relies on Instruction 1 to Item 303(a) to omit a discussion of the earliest of three years and includes the required statement that identifies the location of such discussion in a prior filing. Does the statement identifying the disclosure in a prior filing incorporate such disclosure by reference into the current filing?
Answer: No. A statement merely identifying the location in a prior filing where the omitted discussion can be found does not incorporate such disclosure into the filing unless the registrant expressly states that the information is incorporated by reference. See Securities Act Rule 411(e) and Exchange Act Rule 12b-23(e). [Jan. 24, 2020]
Question: May a registrant rely on Instruction 1 to Item 303(a) to omit a discussion of the earliest of three years from its current MD&A if it believes a discussion of that year is necessary?
Answer: No. Item 303(a) requires that the registrant provide such information that it believes to be necessary to an understanding of its financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of operations. A registrant must assess its information about the earliest of three years and, if it is required by Item 303(a), include it in the current disclosure or expressly incorporate by reference its discussion from a previous filing. [Jan. 24, 2020]
Question: A registrant has an effective registration statement that incorporates by reference its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018. In its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, the registrant will omit the discussion of its results for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 pursuant to Instruction 1 to Item 303(a) and include a statement identifying the location of the discussion presented in its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018. The filing of the Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 will operate as the Section 10(a)(3) update to the registration statement. After the company files the Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, will the company's discussion of its results for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 be incorporated by reference in the registration statement?
Answer: No. The filing of the Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 establishes a new effective date for the registration statement. As of the new effective date, the registration statement incorporates by reference only the Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, which does not contain the company's discussion of results for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 unless, as indicated in Question 110.02, the information is expressly incorporated by reference. [Jan. 24, 2020]
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