SEC Approval of Amendments to FINRA Corporate Financing Rules Will Reduce Burdens on Parties in Public Offerings

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently approved two proposals by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) to amend FINRA Rules 5110 (the Corporate Financing Rule) and 5121 (the Conflicts of Interest Rule). The amendments include modifications that will affect not only underwriters and issuers in public offerings, but investment banks acting as independent financial advisors to issuers, and investment funds and other investors that are significant stockholders in public companies.

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The Many Ways to do Public Private Partnerships

As local governments face increasing budget pressure, and as tools such as tax increment financing face increasing political hostility, real estate developers should remember that there are many opportunities for private developers to partner with public agencies to finance and build projects. There is certainly a great need for help in rebuilding and upgrading infrastructure and utilities, and the lack of available state and municipal funding for public improvement projects will mean great opportunities for developers through public private partnerships.

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FCC Issues Rules for First-Ever Incentive Auction of TV Broadcast Spectrum

On June 2, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, or Commission) released rules designed to implement the first-ever incentive auction in which spectrum will be recovered from television broadcasters, who voluntarily choose to give up some or all of their spectrum usage rights in exchange for incentive payments, and subsequently auctioned for wireless broadband services through a forward auction process. Release of the rules follows last month’s FCC 3-2 vote along party lines to adopt a framework for the auctions as authorized by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act).

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Oil Prices and the Implications of the Political Unrest in Iraq

Iraq, the world’s fastest-growing oil exporter, has fallen into a state of great political turmoil due to the recent military offensives of the Sunni-led Islamist movement known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Since early June, ISIS militants have swept throughout Northern Iraq capturing city after city, most notably Mosul – the nation’s second largest city.

The swift successes of the militant forces highlights the weakness of Iraq’s Shia government and its US-trained security forces, and has called into question if the government can regain political stability or succumb to civil war.

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The Second Circuit Grants the S.E.C. Power Over Settlements

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit made a decision that would give the S.E.C. greater authority to settle cases. This was the result of an earlier decision in 2011 by U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff who “refused to approve a $285 million settlement between Citigroup and the S.E.C.”

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Tesla Owner Elon Musk to Make Patents Public

Elon Musk is looking to change the world. The man is the closest thing there is to a real life Tony Stark, the character played by Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, and partially based on Musk.

On Thursday, the Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO announced that he has opened up the Palo Alto electric car company’s patents to all. In a seemingly altruistic move, Musk reasoned that the opening up of the patents to the industry will allow for the acceleration of the development of electric vehicles, which Musk believes will benefit everyone.

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Consumers v. Big Business Part III: Sprint and T-Mobile

Sprint and T-Mobile, the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless phone operators, are now fully engaged in merger talks.  Following the AT&T/DirecTV and Comcast/TWC merger, this is set-up to be the third largest telecommunications deal in the past three years, and perhaps the last big deal of its kind for the near future.  The planned merger would be the 18th largest deal in the telecommunications industry since 1984. (more…)

Uber Valued at $18.2 Billion

Uber, the taxi-like app, was recently valued at $18.2 billion.  The company, only four years old, is worth more than Tiffany, Whole Foods, and Hertz Global Holdings and is almost equal in value to Twitter and LinkedIn, for example.  Many were shocked by the high valuation, calling it “nuts,” “insane,” “absurd,” and an “idiocy.”  Some, on the other hand, believe even the $18.2 billion figure undervalues Uber.  Note that Uber’s previous valuation at $3.5 billion in 2013 was called “breathtaking.”  The company has come a long way in the year since then, with an even more breathtaking valuation this time.

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Federal Banking Agencies Seek Comments on Their Regulations in Effort to Reduce Regulatory Burden

The FRB, FDIC and OCC (the “Agencies”) published the first of a series of four requests seeking public comments to identify regulations of the respective Agencies that are seen as outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome.  The Agencies noted that any changes to their regulations that are designed to reduce regulatory burden must be compatible with the safety and soundness of depository institutions and must be consistent with the Agencies’ statutory mandates.  The Agencies’ first notice of regulatory review and request for comments (the “First Notice”) was issued on June 4, 2014 pursuant to the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (“EGRPRA”).  Under EGRPRA, the Agencies are required to conduct a review every ten years to identify outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome regulations.

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Top 10 Privacy Considerations for Digital Marketing Campaigns

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies are relying heavily on innovative and edgy digital marketing campaigns to promote their products and services that often include the submission of user-generated content, viral marketing, the brand’s website, a mobile application and other social media and social networking elements. However, the tech-savvy marketing professionals that are entrusted to implement these programs are often unaware of the complex legal overlay of the digital world and the potential significant financial repercussions for their company’s failure to comply with applicable privacy laws. Failure to understand and follow these legal requirements can potentially lead to expensive litigation or government enforcement actions and negative publicity that can harm a brand. Further, the advancement of technology allows for messaging to be behaviorally targeted, which may not be well received and might be deemed creepy by consumers, even if such profiling and targeting is currently legal in the U.S. In working closely with our clients from concept through execution of a digital marketing campaign, these are the ”top 10” privacy questions that marketers and their lawyers should be asking before launching a digital marketing campaign that collects information from consumers.

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