One of the more popular ways for a small business to go public is through a reverse acquisition. A reverse acquisition allows private companies to go public without a number of regulatory requirements present in a typical IPO. A typical IPO can take at least six months to complete and require hundreds of thousands of dollars in professional fees due to the comment and review process with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A typical reverse acquisition, involves 100% of the private company’s stock or equivalent being acquired for a large equity stake in the public company, generally over 90% but can be as low as 40%. Generally, the public company is known as a “shell corporation” in which has limited or no operations. The two businesses are then merged using the private company’s products with a public company’s structure.
One of the biggest factors in considering whether or not you have a reverse acquisition is who controls the public company after the transaction. In cases where the private company’s shareholders own less than 50% of the public company, analysis of operational control, board control or other factors impacting control must be conducted. We have experienced reverse acquisitions where private company shareholders control 40% of the public company stock, and the board is controlled or evenly controlled by the private company’s management. Thus, control is maintained by the private company.
A reverse acquisition, with a public company will cause a change in reporting entity which, in effect, causes the financial statements of the public company to be eliminated and replaced with those of the private company for all previously reported periods which are included in future filings with the SEC; no previously filed reports of the public company are required to be amended and re-filed. A change in reporting entity is generally a preferable reporting requirement because the readers of the financial statements can see comparable amounts in the interim and annual reporting by the public company. Alternatively, in a forward acquisition, the private company’s financial statements and results are included only from the date of the acquisition forward.
One of the key requirements to a reverse acquisition is that an 8-K, commonly known as a Super 8-K, needs to be filed within four (4) business days of the acquisition date. The 8-K will include information similar to that of a standard 10-K, including audited and reviewed financial statements of the private company. All future public filings will present the historical financial statements of the private company as if they acquired the public company.
If you are considering a reverse acquisition it is extremely important that you obtain proper guidance from a securities attorney and an experienced auditor. One of the major delays in closing a reverse acquisition is obtaining the required audits and the completed 8-K. At dbbmckennon we have conducted numerous audits in connection with reverse acquisitions. If you are contemplating a reverse acquisition to take your private company public, please contact us to discuss if this is the right method for you.