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加拿大OSC揭新规面纱 众筹者美梦初得偿

作者:BarbaraShecter

经过两年多时间监管政策的推动,众筹行业期待以久的创业企业可以在线向小型投资者们出售权益,以用来集资的美梦在周四终于变成了现实。

由OSC(加拿大安大略省证券委员会)提议的新规定计划给创业者在12个月内筹集最多150万美元,创业企业不必承担上市IPO的费用,并且给予了投资人一定程度的保护,当然这种保护并不包括提供正式招股说明书的便利。

“我们对于权益类众筹的监管已经推进了两年了,所以我非常开心看到监管机构现在允许小企业以经济的方式进行筹资,”SandiGilbert,SeedUps平台创始人说,该平台是一家建立在卡尔加里(加拿大西南部城市),帮助小企业向投资人筹资的网站门户。

权益类众筹项目与项目导向的众筹项目是非常不同的,后者通过像Kickstarter这样的网站,投资者花钱以换取一些短期的乐趣,比如T恤抑或是看一部捐赠人资助过的电影。

Gilbert小姐也是加拿大权益类众筹联盟的联合创始人,她说自己还有一些疑虑,那就是新规可能会提高小企业的成本,但是她对于OSC能像美国和英国一样“沿着正确的方向”走下去感到十分欣慰。

经过超过一年的研究和广泛的咨询,其中包括对于渴望融资的企业,也包括认定在线权益类众筹可能会成为欺诈者们的乐园的投资人,OSC最终得出结论认为众筹对于加拿大最大的资本市场来说还是非常适合的。

在一份本省筹资政策变更的文件中,监管者如是说:“我们认为,众筹经过适度的监管,相关平台能够成为初创企业进行融资的可行渠道”。

这些新规会在90天的公众征询意见期内获取反馈,可能进行一些修订,之后将付诸实施。新规后众筹门户需要向监管者进行登记,对于筹资企业进行背景调查。投资者每次的风险投资被限制在2500加元,每年1万加元,而且投资者必须签署“风险提示书”表明投资风险可能导致资本全额损失。

对于公司筹集资金也有极为严格的限制,该公司董事会成员必须与加拿大存在极为密切的联系。

OSC主席HowardWetston说提案的筹资新条例将会改变安大略省的“豁免类市场”,因为它将为企业提供更便利的融资来源与持续拓展的投资机遇。

“我们一直以一种平衡、负责任的态度作出这样的提案,既着眼于便利融资渠道,又对投资者保持适度的关怀。”他说。在一次采访中,Weston先生说监管当局决心致力在移除创新和经济增长的障碍的同时,“匹配”企业和投资者的需求。

这与投资者保护并行不悖,他又补充道投资本质上就是一项有风险的活动。

“我们希望投资人可以理解、评估风险,”他针对众筹条例说。

OSC和其他加拿大的监管者在2012年美国出台新的立法之后,就一直在深思对于资本募集监管的问题。在周四,魁北克,萨斯喀彻温省,新不伦瑞克,马尼托巴和新斯科舍省的监管者们也公开了他们的监管方案,其中不列颠哥伦比亚省监管者看上去选择了对“初创企业豁免”施加了更多的限制。

投资者权利促进基金会(FAIRCanada)的执行董事NeilGross说:“今天对于采取合作态度的监管者们并不是很好的一天,因为我们看到的是一些拼凑式的监管方案,还有许多对于消费者无益的顾虑”。

他说他很高兴地看到安大略省监管下的众筹门户在新规约束下将对筹资企业进行尽职调查的工作。但是,在众筹行业作为一种融资工具,在全球的大势驱动发展的情况下,监管者也只不过将他们力所能及的一些保护措施引入到其中罢了。

加拿大监管者是在迫不得已的情况下才对众筹敞开大门的,Gross先生说。

约1000亿“豁免类企业市场”中众筹将会成为其中一部分,该市场因为不需要企业向投资者出让股份前提交昂贵、详尽的招股说明文件,因而历史上很少受到监管机构的审查。

OSC已经就允许在没有监管机构审核的招股说明书的情况下向朋友、家人和现有证券持有者(原股东)募集资金公开征询意见。这一类的豁免在加拿大西部和魁北克已经非常流行了,另外一项豁免提案将允许通过简式发行备忘文件代替正式招股说明书进行募资。这些条例也将在90天内面向公众征询意见。

Barbara Shecter

After two years of pushing for regulations that would let startup companies raise money by selling securities online to pools of small investors, the crowdfunding industry got much of what it hoped for Thursday.

Proposed rules unveiled by the Ontario Securities Commission are designed to give entrepreneurs room to raise up to $1.5-million during a 12-month period without the expense of an initial public offering while giving investors some degree of protection without the benefits of a formal prospectus.

“We’ve been pushing for two years for crowdfunding regulation, so I’m very happy they are allowing small companies to raise capital in an economic way,” said Sandi Gilbert, founder of SeedUps Canada, a Calgary-based portal that connects small businesses with investors.

Equity crowdfunding is different from project-based crowdfunding organized through websites such as Kickstarter that exchange money for immediate perks such as t-shirts or the joy of watching a movie the contributor helped fund.

Ms. Gilbert, who is also the co-f0under of the Equity Crowdfunding Alliance of Canada, said she has some minor quibbles that might push up costs for small companies but is pleased the OSC is “going in the right direction” along with jurisdictions including the United States and United Kingdom.

After more than a year of study and extensive consultations that included input from firms hungry for funding as well as investor advocates with concerns that online equity crowdfunding would provide a new venue for fraudsters, the OSC concluded that crowdfunding is appropriate for Canada’s largest capital market.

“We think that crowdfunding through an appropriately regulated crowdfunding portal can be a viable method for start-ups … to raise capital,” the regulator said in a thick document containing three additional proposed changes to capital raising in the province.

Under the new rules, which won’t come into force until after a 90-day comment period to allow for feedback and possibly revisions, portals will be required to register with the regulator and conduct background checks on firms raising money. Investors will be limited to a $2,500 investment in any single venture, and $10,000 in a calendar year, and must sign a “risk-acknowledgement form” that says the investor could lose all the money invested.

There are also tight restrictions to ensure that the company raising money and its board of directors have strong Canadian connections.

Howard Wetston, chair of the OSC, said proposed new rules for raising capital including crowdfunding “will transform Ontario’s exempt market” by providing greater access to capital for businesses and expanding investment opportunities.

“We have done so in a balanced and responsible manner that is intended to facilitate capital raising while maintaining an appropriate level of investor protection,” he said. In an interview, Mr. Wetston said the regulator was determined to “align” the needs of businesses and investors as much as possible while removing barriers to innovation and economic growth.

That doesn’t run contrary to investor protection, he said, adding that investing is risky by nature.

“We want investors to understand and appreciate the risk,” he said of the crowdfunding rules.

The OSC and other Canadian regulators began mulling the new method of capital raising in 2012 in the wake of new legislation in the United States. On Thursday, crowdfunding proposals were also published by regulators in Quebec, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. British Columbia appears to be opting for a more limited “start-up” exemption.

“Today was not a good day for for co-operative regulation in that we saw a patchwork approach and a certain amount of confusion [that is] not helpful to consumers,” said Neil Gross, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR Canada).

He said he is pleased the portals governed by Ontario’s regulator will be forced under the new rules to do some due diligence on those who will be using them to raise money. However, he said regulators are simply doing what they can to inject investor protection into a fundraising tool that is being driven by global trends.

Canadian regulators are “embracing it by necessity,” Mr. Gross said.

Crowdfunding will become part of the roughly $100-billion exempt market, which has historically been subject to less regulatory scrutiny because it does not require companies to file expensive and detailed prospectus documents before selling securities to investors.

The OSC has opened comment on additional proposed exemptions to allow capital to be raised, such as allowing friends, family and existing securities holders to purchase equity without a prospectus vetted by regulators. These exemptions are already popular in Western Canada and Quebec, as is another proposed exemption that would allow the sale of securities using a simplified offering memorandum instead of a prospectus. These rules will also be subject to the 90-day comment period.


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