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Behind the Curtain: An inside look into the operations of VC firms – MBBP Venture Capital Event, November 7 10/11/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, Financial Services, MBBP news, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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MRJ Headshot Photo 2017 (M1047116xB1386)Our venture capital event, Behind the Curtain: an inside look into the operations of VC firms, will be held on Tuesday, November 7 from 4:30-6pm at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). Moderated by corporate attorney Mike Jabbawy, the panel will explore how the internal realities of a venture capital firm might have an impact on a technology company looking to build a business based on a venture capital finance strategy. The panel includes:

Dana Callow, Managing General Partner, Boston Millennia Partners
Frank Castellucci, General Counsel & Partner, Accomplice
Juan Luis Leung-Li, Partner, Tectonic Ventures

Space is limited!  View our event page for more information and to register for the event.

Attack of the Indirect Investor, Again 09/28/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Financial Services, Private Investment Funds & Advisers.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)A Texas-based retirement fund that does not own any Uber securities sued Uber and its former chief executive officer Travis Kalanick for making misleading statements to investors. The retirement fund claims that it was harmed when the value of its indirect investment in Uber fell after investors learned that Uber was “operating a business far different than what investors had been led to believe.” In the follow-up article to his previously published piece, Attack of the Indirect Investor, private funds attorney Josh Watson outlines yet another case involving a lawsuit by indirect investors, and the consequences for investment managers.

Read Attack of the Indirect Investor, Again. For more information, please contact Josh Watson or a member of our PIFA practice.

SEC Targets Broken Deal Expenses, Again 09/26/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Financial Services, Private Investment Funds & Advisers, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)By: Josh Watson

Private equity firm Platinum Equity Advisors, LLC (Platinum) improperly charged broken deal expenses to three of its private equity fund clients, according to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 21, 2017. The settlement requires Platinum to reimburse its clients for $1.7 million of improper charges and pay a $1.5 million civil penalty.

Platinum advises private equity funds Platinum Equity Capital Partners L.P., Platinum Equity Capital Partners II, L.P., and Platinum Equity Capital Partners III, L.P. These are multi-investor, multi-investment private equity funds that have capital commitments of $700 million, $2.75 billion, and $3.75 billion, respectively. Platinum also forms and advises co-investment vehicles that invest alongside the firm’s private equity funds.

Platinum disclosed to investors that its private equity funds would be responsible for bearing their own broken-deal and other expenses, including “[a]ll out-of-pocket fees, costs, and expenses, if any, incurred in developing, negotiating, and structuring prospective [p]ortfolio [i]nvestments that are not ultimately made.” Platinum also disclosed to investors that it would establish co-investment vehicles that invest alongside its private equity funds.

Platinum’s disclosure of broken deal fees was inadequate, according to the SEC, because Platinum failed to disclose the fact that its private equity funds would bear 100% of all broken deal expenses and that Platinum’s co-investors, who benefit from Platinum’s sourcing of private equity transactions, would bear none of these expenses.

In finding that Platinum’s disclosures were inadequate, the SEC focused on specific statements in the funds’ partnership agreements and private placement memoranda. Each fund’s partnership agreement stated that the fund would be responsible for expenses “of the [p]artnership.” Each fund’s private placement memorandum stated that the fund would pay all expenses “related to its own operations.” The SEC apparently interpreted the references to expenses “of a [p]artnership” and a partnership’s “own expenses” to mean the partnership’s proportionate share of such expenses.

By allocating all broken deal expenses to its private equity funds without adequately disclosing this practice to prospective investors, Platinum violated Section 206(2) of the Advisers Act, which prohibits an investment adviser from engaging in any transaction, practice, or course of business which operates as a fraud or deceit upon any client or prospective client.

The SEC’s settlement with Platinum does not break new ground. The SEC previously alerted the investment community to its concerns about how firms allocate broken deal expenses in its 2015 enforcement action against Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. The takeaway for managers is that proper advance disclosure is required when a firm client is required to bear a disproportionate amount of expenses related to deals that are never actually consummated.

Read more about the settlement:

https://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2017/ia-4772-s.pdf

https://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2017/ia-4772.pdf

OCIE Issues Risk Alert on Misleading Advertising Practices 09/22/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Financial Services, Private Investment Funds & Advisers.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)By: Josh Watson

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) issued a risk alert on September 14, 2017 identifying misleading advertising practices that examiners have found during examinations of registered investment advisers.

The misleading practices identified in the alert are those that are widely-known to be misleading. For example: (1) Presenting performance results on a gross basis, rather than a net-to-investor basis; (2) Presenting profitable investments without disclosing unprofitable investments made during the same time period; and (3) Presenting hypothetical and back-tested performance results without disclosing other information that an investor would need to evaluate the relevance of the results.

The fact that OCIE issued a risk alert on this topic suggests that OCIE may be seeing an uptick in misleading advertising practices. Having now been warned, advisers should evaluate whether their advertising practices comply with regulatory and fiduciary requirements, and whether they have adequate procedures in place to ensure continued compliance with these requirements.

For more information, read the full alert.

Attack of the Indirect Investor 09/21/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Financial Services, Private Investment Funds & Advisers.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)A company’s indirect investors may sue the company and its principals for fraud, according to a recent federal court ruling in Robert Colman et al. v. Theranos Inc. et al. Private funds attorney Josh Watson discusses the case in his article “Attack of the Indirect Investor.” He explains that investment managers who syndicate investment opportunities through single purpose vehicles (SPVs) should be concerned about the ruling because it undermines their control over potential disputes with portfolio companies and their relationships with portfolio company management.

Read the full article on our website. For more information, please contact Josh Watson or a member of our PIFA practice.

Josh Watson Moderating Private Equity and VC Funds Program at ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting 09/14/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Events, Financial Services, Private Investment Funds & Advisers, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)At this year’s ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting, private funds attorney Josh Watson will serve as the program chair and moderator for the program “End of Life Issues for Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds.” The program will be presented by the Private Equity and Venture Capital committee and will cover issues faced by private funds as they approach the end of their life spans. Topics include term extensions, secondary sales, restructurings, and conflicts of interest.

The program will be held this Friday, September 15 at 8am. For more information, view the meeting guide.

Chip Wry Discusses Planning for Tax Reform in Accounting Today Article 07/05/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Financial Services, Taxation.
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M0846619Accounting Today’s article “Getting Ahead of Tax Reform” discusses the importance of planning and action for businesses before the potential tax reform takes place. Tax attorney Chip Wry comments on the uncertainty of which pieces of the proposed legislation will be enacted, and notes the possible implications regarding the elimination of the interest expense deduction and the expensing of capital expenditures. Chip also discusses how tax reform could affect choice of entity for new businesses, particularly the choice between C corporation or LLC. Chip notes:

Before the individual rates went up under the current rules, we formed a higher percentage of companies as LLCs than after they increased… But with the increase in rates, we were more willing to form companies as a C corporation.”

For more of Chip’s insights into potential tax reform, read the full Accounting Today article.

The Risks of Using Finders and Unregistered Brokers 06/21/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Financial Services, Private Investment Funds & Advisers.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)Private fund managers often use placement agents, finders, and other intermediaries to help raise capital for their investment funds. Using an intermediary that has failed to register as a broker-dealer, however, is fraught with risk. In his article “The Risks of Using Finders and Unregistered Brokers”, private funds attorney Josh Watson cautions against using unregistered brokers and describes how to determine when an intermediary should be registered.

Read the full article on our website. For more information, please contact Josh Watson or a member of our PIFA practice.

Registration Exemptions for Investment Advisers 06/08/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Financial Services, MBBP news, Private Investment Funds & Advisers, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)When may an investment adviser avoid registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission? Private funds attorney Josh Watson answers this question in his article “Registration Exemptions for Investment Advisers” that summarizes the requirements of two registration exemptions that are available to managers of private investment funds.

To learn about the two registration exemptions read the full article on our website. For more information, please contact Josh Watson or a member of our PIFA practice.

NYSE’s Corporate Board Member Online Magazine Brings in MBBP’s Carl Barnes for Insights on D&O Liability 11/17/2016

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Financial Services, Litigation, M&A.
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CFB Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846497xB1386)NYSE‘s publication, Corporate Board Member, has recently published an article, “Sidestepping D&O Liability”. This piece brings to light the year 2015 as a record-breaking one for securities litigation against directors and officers, and how this trend is continuing into 2016. The level of whistleblower activity has significantly increased, as exemplified by the astonishing 119 filings of new federal class-action securities cases, and complementing this increase is the substantial decrease in the settlement sizes of these suits.

MBBP’s Carl Barnes, who specializes in director and officer liability, was asked to discuss precautions and to offer his counsel on this subject. Throughout the article, Carl is often cited offering advice on the various types of director liability and the methods in which to avoid litigation. Carl explains that directors are under fierce scrutiny in order to ascertain whether or not they have satisfied their duty of care, as this is the item that drives litigation. In order to minimize, or even avoid, liability altogether, Carl advises that directors be “actively involved, ask questions, and demand answers.” In a post-Enron world, directors need to be vigilant in order to avoid being liable, and the counsel that Carl offers may help directors and officers dismiss litigation quickly and perhaps even avoid it entirely. For more information, check out the full article.

MBBP Clients Red Crow and MiRTLE Medical Featured in Forbes Article Regarding New Equity Crowdfunding Platform 10/31/2016

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Corporate, Financial Services, Life Sciences, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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MBBP clients Red Crow and MiRTLE Medical are featured in a Forbes article regarding Red Crow’s new equity crowdfunding portal that will be launching in November.  The crowdfunding platform will feature “exclusive and professionally-vetted investment opportunities” for accredited and non-accredited investors.

MiRTLE Medical will have one of the first featured investment opportunities. MiRTLE’s product is a custom designed diagnostic-grade 12-lead electrocardiogram for use during MRI.  MBBP is assisting MiRTLE Medical with its involvement in the crowdfunding platform.

To learn more, read the full Forbes article.

Panel 3 of Life Sciences Series To Be Held On September 22nd! 08/31/2016

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, Financial Services, MBBP news.
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JMH Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846571xB1386)On Thursday, September 22nd, MBBP will host the third panel of our Life Sciences Series, “Funding Models in Biotech“.  The panel will be held at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) from 4:30pm – 6:00pm.

The panel will discuss today’s financing environment for emerging biotech companies, and the many complexities facing these companies in their attempts to find investors.
Corporate Partner John Hession will moderate the panel, which includes the following experts:

Josh Hamermesh, Vice President, Locust Walk

Steve Gullans, Managing Director, Excel Venture Management

Dana Callow, Managing General Partner, Boston Millennia Partners

View the full event details and registration information.  Register soon – seating is limited!

InvestSoft Technology Acquired by Morningstar 06/13/2016

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Computer Software & Hardware, Deal News, Financial Services.
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InvestSoft Technology Logo (M0921814xB1386)MBBP Client InvestSoft Technology, a provider of innovative software solutions designed to streamline workflow, reduce risk and harness the value of data throughout an organization, was acquired by Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research.

Todd Roitfarb, chief executive officer of InvestSoft, said, “InvestSoft understands the real-time needs of investment firms, and we pride ourselves on the speed and accuracy of our calculations and the seamlessness of our data processing. Now that we are part of Morningstar, we can reach and better serve more investors who need high-quality fixed-income analytics.”

MBBP has served as counsel to InvestSoft since 2009, and advised it in connection with the structuring, negotiation and documentation of this transaction. Jon Gworek was the lead attorney on MBBP’s team, which also included attorneys Howard Zaharoff and Matthew Loecker.

For more information, read the full news release here.

MBBP Partner Joseph Martinez Participating in MIT Enterprise Forum’s Spring Start Smart Class 05/11/2016

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Client News, Corporate, Employment, Events, Financial Services, Intellectual Property, Licensing & Strategic Alliances, MBBP news.
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Corporate partner Joseph Martinez will take part in MIT Enterprise Forum’s (MITEF) Spring Start Smart Class, which will run from May 23-June 20.  M0846610He will appear as a Guest Speaker during the third class, which will focus on legal issues for startups.  Specifically, Martinez will discuss the employment, financing, and intellectual property legal issues facing startups.

MITEF’s Spring Start Smart Class is an eight session program focused on providing expertise to entrepreneurs on how to launch a successful new business.  The program is structured as a hands-on workshop, and features guest speakers whose fields of expertise correlate with each class’s specific topic of discussion.

For more information and to register for the course, see the full details here.MITEF-Full-Color-e1438717228333

Fenway Summer Ventures Leads Financing in StreetShares 03/16/2016

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Deal News, Financial Services.
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fenwaysummer logoCongratulations to our client Fenway Summer Ventures for leading a Series A financing in StreetShares. Endeavor Equity Holding and Pivot Investments also participated in the initial $4.5 million Series A closing. Led by co-founders Mark Rockefeller and Mickey Konson, StreetShares brings together business owners in search of funding and investors looking for both financial and social returns. The online lender offers loans and lines of credit of $2,000 to $100,000 to small businesses, many of which are run by veterans.

MBBP attorneys Jon Gworek and Matt Loecker handled the transaction on behalf of Fenway Summer Ventures. To learn more, please click here.

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