[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 133 (Wednesday, July 13, 2005)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 40613-40633]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-13737]



[[Page 40613]]

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Part III





Securities and Exchange Commission





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17 CFR Part 240



Amendments to the Penny Stock Rules; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 133 / Wednesday, July 13, 2005 / 
Rules and Regulations

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SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

17 CFR Part 240

[Release No. 34-51983; File No. S7-02-04]
RIN 3235-AI02


Amendments to the Penny Stock Rules

AGENCY: Securities and Exchange Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Securities and Exchange Commission is amending the 
definition of ``penny stock'' as well as the requirements for providing 
certain information to penny stock customers. These amendments are 
designed to address market changes, evolving communications technology 
and legislative developments.

EFFECTIVE DATES: Effective September 12, 2005.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine McGuire, Chief Counsel, 
Paula R. Jenson, Deputy Chief Counsel, Brian A. Bussey, Assistant Chief 
Counsel, or Norman M. Reed, Special Counsel, at 202/551-5550, Office of 
Chief Counsel, Division of Market Regulation, Securities and Exchange 
Commission, Station Place, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Securities and Exchange Commission 
(``Commission'' or ``SEC'') is adopting amendments to Rule 3a51-1 [17 
CFR 240.3a51-1], Rule 15g-2 [17 CFR 240.15g-2], Rule 15g-9 [17 CFR 
240.15g-9], and Rule 15g-100 [17 CFR 240.15g-100] under the Securities 
Exchange Act of 1934 (``Exchange Act'').

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary
II. Amendments to Rule 3a51-1: Definition of Penny Stock
III. Amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9
IV. Amendments to Schedule 15G
V. Other Comments
VI. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis
VII. Costs and Benefits of Rule Amendments
VIII. Consideration of Burden on Promotion of Efficiency, 
Competition, and Capital Formation
IX. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
X. Statutory Authority
Text of Rule Amendments

I. Executive Summary

    In January 2004, the Commission proposed amendments to rules under 
the Exchange Act defining the term ``penny stock'' and requiring 
certain broker-dealers to provide certain information to customers 
regarding penny stock transactions.\1\ These proposed amendments were 
designed to respond to changing market structures, new technology, and 
legislative developments.
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    \1\ Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037 (Jan. 8, 2004), 69 FR 2531 (Jan. 
16, 2004).
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    In proposing these amendments, the Commission was particularly 
concerned with their potential effect on small business capital 
formation. We recognized the important contributions small companies 
make to the economy, and stressed that the rule amendments were not 
intended to impede the access of small businesses to the capital 
markets or eliminate viable secondary markets for their securities.\2\
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    \2\ See id. at 2532.
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    The Commission received a total of 11 comment letters. Commenters 
included investors, employees of broker-dealers, an attorney, a law 
school group, the American Stock Exchange LLC (``Amex''), the National 
Futures Association (``NFA''), and The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. 
(``Nasdaq'').\3\ While many commenters generally supported the 
Commission's proposals, some expressed concerns regarding particular 
provisions. We discuss specific comments below in connection with the 
discussion of the rule amendments.
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    \3\ A detailed comment summary has been prepared by the staff 
and placed in the Commission's public files, together with all 
comment letters received. See File S7-02-04.
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    After carefully considering the comments, the Commission is 
adopting the rule amendments as proposed with a technical modification 
to correct a typographical error in the proposal. In particular, we are 
amending Exchange Act Rule 3a51-1 to provide that securities relying on 
the exclusions from the definition of penny stock for reported 
securities, as defined in Exchange Act Rule 11Aa3-1(a), and for certain 
other exchange-registered securities must either be listed on a 
``grandfathered'' national securities exchange \4\ or be listed on a 
national securities exchange or an automated quotation system sponsored 
by a registered national securities association (including Nasdaq) that 
satisfies certain minimum quantitative listing standards.
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    \4\ An exchange will be ``grandfathered'' if it has been 
continuously registered since the Commission initially adopted Rules 
15g-1 through 15g-9 under the Exchange Act (collectively known as 
the ``penny stock rules'') and if the exchange has maintained and 
continues to maintain quantitative listing standards substantially 
similar to those in place on January 8, 2004.
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    In addition, the Commission is amending Rule 3a51-1 to exclude 
security futures products from the definition of penny stock. We are 
also eliminating an outdated exclusion for securities quoted on Nasdaq, 
as well as an outdated provision relating to Amex's Emerging Company 
Marketplace.\5\
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    \5\ See 17 CFR 240.3a51-1(a).
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    The Commission is also amending Exchange Act Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 
to provide an explicit ``cooling-off period'' to replace the implicit 
period that customers traditionally have had when the disclosure 
documents required by the penny stock rules are provided by postal mail 
rather than electronically. Moreover, we are amending the penny stock 
disclosure document (as defined below) and the instructions to it set 
forth in Schedule 15G under the Exchange Act \6\ to update and 
streamline the document and to make it more useful and easily readable.
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    \6\ 17 CFR 240.15g-100.
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    Taken as a whole, these amendments are intended to ensure that 
investors continue to receive the protections of the penny stock rules, 
regardless of changing technology or market structures.

II. Amendments to Rule 3a51-1: Definition of Penny Stock

    Exchange Act Rule 3a51-1 generally defines a penny stock as any 
equity security. The definition, however, contains a number of broad 
exclusions for certain equity securities.

A. Reported Securities and Other Exchange-Registered Securities--
Minimum Listing Standards

    We proposed to amend paragraph (a) of Rule 3a51-1,\7\ which 
provides an exclusion for reported securities, to require that reported 
securities must satisfy one of the following standards in order to be 
excluded from the definition of penny stock. First, a reported security 
registered on a national securities exchange would qualify for the 
exclusion if the national securities exchange on which it is registered 
has been continuously registered since April 20, 1992,\8\ and the 
national securities exchange has maintained quantitative initial and 
continued listing standards that are substantially similar to or 
stricter than the listing standards that were in place at that exchange 
on January 8, 2004.\9\ Second, a reported security registered on a 
national securities exchange would qualify for this exclusion if the 
national securities exchange or a ``junior tier'' of the

[[Page 40615]]

exchange has established initial listing standards that meet or exceed 
the criteria set forth below, and maintains quantitative continued 
listing standards that are both reasonably related to its initial 
listing standards and consistent with the maintenance of fair and 
orderly markets. Third, a reported security listed on an automated 
quotation system sponsored by a registered national securities 
association \10\ would qualify for this exclusion if the registered 
national securities association has established initial listing 
standards for the automated quotation system that meet or exceed the 
criteria set forth below, and maintains quantitative continued listing 
standards that are both reasonably related to its initial listing 
standards and consistent with the maintenance of fair and orderly 
markets.\11\
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    \7\ 17 CFR 240.3a51-1(a).
    \8\ This is the date on which the Commission adopted Rule 3a51-
1.
    \9\ We refer to this provision as the ``grandfather'' provision. 
See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2534 n. 28 (discussing the 
use of the term ``substantially similar'' in this context).
    \10\ Id. at n. 29 (discussing the term ``automated quotation 
system'' in this context).
    \11\ Id. at n. 30. The securities now listed on Nasdaq do not 
need a ``grandfather'' provision because the quantitative listing 
standards we are adopting are modeled on those currently used by the 
Nasdaq SmallCap Market.
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    In particular, to qualify for this exclusion for reported 
securities or the exclusion for certain other exchange-registered 
securities, a national securities exchange (other than a 
``grandfathered'' exchange) or an automated quotation system sponsored 
by a registered national securities association on which the security 
is registered or listed must have initial listing standards that meet 
or exceed the following criteria:
    An issuer must have (1) stockholders' equity of $5 million, a 
market value of listed securities of $50 million for 90 consecutive 
days prior to applying for the listing,\12\ or net income of $750,000 
(excluding extraordinary or non-recurring items) in the most recently 
completed fiscal year or two of the last three most recently completed 
fiscal years; and (2) an operating history of at least one year or a 
market value of listed securities of $50 million. In addition, for 
common or preferred stock, the listing standards must require a minimum 
bid price of $4 per share.
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    \12\ Market value means the closing bid price multiplied by the 
number of securities listed.
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    For common stock, the initial listing standards must also require 
at least 300 round lot holders,\13\ and at least 1 million publicly 
held shares with a market value of at least $5 million.\14\ In the case 
of convertible debt securities, the initial listing standards need to 
require a principal amount outstanding of at least $10 million. With 
respect to rights and warrants, the initial listing standards also must 
require that at least 100,000 rights and warrants be issued and that 
the underlying security be registered on a national securities exchange 
or listed on an automated quotation system sponsored by a registered 
national securities association, and satisfy the requirements of 
paragraphs (a) or (e) of Rule 3a51-1.
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    \13\ A round lot holder means a holder of a normal unit of 
trading.
    \14\ Shares held directly or indirectly by an officer or 
director of the issuer and by any person who is the beneficial owner 
of more than 10 percent of the total shares outstanding are not 
considered to be publicly held for purposes of calculating market 
value in this context.
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    For put warrants (that is, instruments that grant the holder the 
right to sell to the issuing company a specified number of shares of 
the company's common stock, at a specified price on or before a 
specified date), the initial listing standards must require that at 
least 100,000 put warrants be issued and that the underlying security 
be registered on a national securities exchange or listed on an 
automated quotation system sponsored by a registered national 
securities association, and satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a) 
or (e) of Rule 3a51-1.
    With regard to units (that is, two or more securities traded 
together), the initial listing standards must require that all 
component parts be registered on a national securities exchange or 
listed on an automated quotation system sponsored by a registered 
national securities association, and satisfy the requirements of 
paragraph (a) or (e) of Rule 3a51-1. Finally, for all other equity 
securities (including hybrid securities and derivative securities 
products), the national securities exchange or national securities 
association must have quantitative initial listing standards that are 
substantially similar to those outlined above.\15\
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    \15\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2534 n. 37. These 
criteria are modeled on the quantitative criteria currently required 
by Nasdaq for inclusion in its SmallCap Market.
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    Two markets commented on these proposed amendments regarding the 
exclusion for reported securities. Nasdaq expressed the view that the 
proposed amendments would undermine the ability of small companies to 
access capital markets or list their securities on viable secondary 
markets because they would encourage regulatory arbitrage.\16\ 
Specifically, this commenter explained that by essentially adopting the 
SmallCap Market listing standards as of January 8, 2004 as the baseline 
criterion for an exemption from the definition of penny stock, and by 
grandfathering national securities exchanges registered since April 20, 
1992, the Commission would create ``the opportunity for an issuer to 
choose a listing venue with laxer standards to secure an exemption from 
the penny stock rules rather than choosing the venue that provides a 
more transparent, more liquid and better regulated market for 
investors.'' \17\ Nasdaq also expressed concern that these proposals 
``could impede the ability of established markets to deal with sudden 
economic and geopolitical events.'' \18\ In Nasdaq's view, the proposed 
amendments to Rule 3a51-1 would mean that some markets would have ``a 
built in advantage memorialized in Commission regulation.'' \19\ In 
addition, Nasdaq asserted that an ``attempt to freeze listing 
standards'' seems ``contrary to the reality that change is an integral 
component of market evolution.'' \20\ It also indicated that the 
Commission was ``laboring under the false assumption that the [listing] 
standards of all markets are substantially the same,'' and contrasted 
its initial listing standards with those of the Amex.\21\ Nasdaq 
suggested amending the proposal to apply ``truly uniform standards'' 
across all affected markets and exchanges.\22\ In Nasdaq's view, the 
current overall regulatory structure encourages flexibility while 
ensuring that the Commission's absolute oversight of listing standards 
to avoid potential penny stock abuses in listed securities.\23\ 
Finally, Nasdaq asserted that the current system meets the needs of 
investors better than a rigid, time-based freeze on listing 
standards,\24\ and asked the Commission to ``recognize the value of a 
flexible model to investors'' in the final rules.\25\
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    \16\ See letter from Edward Knight, Executive Vice President, 
Nasdaq, to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, SEC (Mar. 18, 2004) 
(``Nasdaq letter''). Nasdaq's comments are discussed in detail 
below.
    \17\ Id.
    \18\ Id.
    \19\ Id.
    \20\ Id.
    \21\ Id. (``For instance, NASDAQ notes that the American Stock 
Exchange's (``Amex'') initial listing standard for price is $3.00 
per share, whereas the NASDAQ SmallCap Market standard is $4.00 per 
share. Thus, [Nasdaq observes that,] in certain material respects, 
the SmallCap Market initial listing standards are more stringent 
than the initial listing standards of the Amex, which would be 
grandfathered by the proposed definition of a `penny stock.' '' 
(citations omitted) ).
    \22\ Id.
    \23\ Id.
    \24\ Id.
    \25\ Id. Nasdaq recognized, however, that the Commission could 
address this concern by granting waivers and exemptions on a case-
by-case basis.
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    In contrast, the Amex was supportive of these proposed rule 
amendments.\26\

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Responding to Nasdaq's comments, the Amex stated that its initial 
listing standards are, in a number of ways, significantly more 
stringent than the Nasdaq SmallCap initial listing standards.\27\ The 
Amex also disagreed with Nasdaq's assertion that the proposed 
amendments would lead to regulatory arbitrage.\28\
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    \26\ See letter from Michael J. Ryan Jr., Executive Vice 
President and General Counsel, Amex, to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, 
SEC (May 7, 2004) (``Amex letter'') (``The Amex fully supports the 
Commission's continuing efforts to deter fraud in the penny stock 
market.'').
    \27\ Id. (``While SmallCap imposes a higher price requirement, a 
full comparison of the initial listing standards for both 
marketplaces reveals that the Amex standards in the aggregate 
subject issuers to a broader range of quantitative criteria. 
Specifically, the Amex standards require compliance with at least 
two core quantitative criteria (e.g., shareholders' equity, pre-tax 
income, market capitalization, market value of publicly held shares) 
and/or with enhanced quantitative criteria, while the SmallCap 
standards require compliance with only one core quantitative 
criteria.'').
    \28\ Id. (``As discussed above, the Nasdaq claim that the 
SmallCap listing standards are more stringent than the Amex listing 
standards is flawed, and accordingly we do not agree that the 
proposal would result in a regulatory arbitrage or encourage issuers 
to choose an Amex listing.'').
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    The Pace Investor Rights Project, a law school group at Pace 
University School of Law, also generally supported the proposed 
amendments, stating, ``We applaud the Commission's effort to provide an 
additional level of protection to penny stock investors by amending 
Rule 3a51-1 to add minimum quantitative standards for exclusion from 
the definition of a penny stock.'' \29\ This commenter specifically 
noted that ``the proposed balance sheet or income statement criteria 
specified in [the proposed amendments to Rule] 3a51-1(a) should help 
distinguish excluded securities from those securities appropriately 
falling within the penny stock rules,'' and stated that ``initial 
listing and continued listing standards will enhance investor 
protection.'' \30\ This commenter also suggested that ``improved 
protections might flow to general investors who make unsolicited 
transactions and rely to some degree on whether a security is properly 
classified as a penny stock or not.'' \31\
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    \29\ See letter from Barbara Black, Director, Jill I. Gross, 
Director, and Bob Kim, Student Intern, Pace Investor Rights Project, 
to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, SEC (Mar. 11, 2004) (``Pace 
letter'').
    \30\ Id. As we noted when we proposed these amendments, 
requiring national securities exchanges (other than 
``grandfathered'' exchanges) and registered national securities 
associations to adopt continued listing standards that are 
reasonably related to the proposed initial listing standards will 
help to ensure the stability of their respective markets, as well as 
protect investors, by enabling the exchanges and the registered 
national securities associations to identify listed companies that 
may not have sufficient liquidity and financial resources to warrant 
continued listing. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2535.
    We wish to stress that because listed companies are on-going 
businesses that are subject to changing markets and changing 
economic circumstances, we recognize that the continued listing 
standards will not be identical to the initial listing standards. 
Nevertheless, to meet the proposed requirement that they be 
reasonably related to the initial listing standards, the continued 
listing standards should be similar enough to the initial listing 
standards so that the continued listing standards have sufficient 
substance and meaning to uphold the quality of particular markets.
    \31\ Id. In addition, this commenter expressed concern that the 
proposed amendments to Rule 3a51-1 may not be sufficient to protect 
first time penny stock investors participating in solicited 
transactions.
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    We have carefully considered the comments, and particularly 
Nasdaq's suggestion that the proposed rule amendments may foster 
regulatory arbitrage. We continue to believe that the rule amendments 
preserve--not change--the status quo with respect to existing markets. 
The amendments should not encourage or facilitate regulatory arbitrage 
because they explicitly provide for the ``grandfathering'' of reported 
securities on existing national securities exchanges. Moreover, the 
amendments implicitly ``grandfather'' Nasdaq because the minimum 
baseline for listing standards we are adopting today is modeled on the 
quantitative standards currently used by the Nasdaq SmallCap Market. As 
a result, the rule amendments should have no impact on the competitive 
positions of existing markets as compared to the current rule. In 
effect, only new markets or new ``junior tiers'' of existing national 
securities exchanges will be required to satisfy the minimum baseline 
for listing standards described above.
    While we appreciate Nasdaq's preference for the current regulatory 
structure, and its view that national securities exchanges and 
automated quotation systems operated by national securities 
associations should have flexibility with respect to their listing 
standards, we do not view these amendments as fostering inflexibility, 
or as altering the current regulatory structure. National securities 
exchanges and Nasdaq will retain their ability to establish and change 
their listing standards. Moreover, as with other self-regulatory 
organization (``SRO'') rules, we will review any proposed changes to 
SRO listing standards for compliance with the requirements of the 
Exchange Act \32\ and Rule 19b-4 thereunder.\33\ Any proposed changes 
that would tighten a market's listing standards would have no effect on 
the penny stock status of securities listed on that market. We will 
also review any proposed changes that would dilute a market's listing 
standards and consider, among other things, whether such proposed rule 
changes might encourage any potential penny stock-type abuses in 
reported securities. In addition, in the event that an exchange or 
Nasdaq decided to lower any particular listing standards below the 
standards established in this rule,\34\ it could request an exemption 
from the Commission pursuant to Exchange Act Rule 15g-1.\35\
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    \32\ See 15 U.S.C. 78s(b).
    \33\ 17 CFR 240.19b-4.
    \34\ To the extent its current listing standards exceed those in 
Rule 3a51-1, Nasdaq or an exchange could lower its listing standards 
without necessarily losing its reported securities' exclusion from 
the definition of penny stock.
    \35\ 17 CFR 15g-1(f) (The Commission may exempt from Rules 15g-2 
through 15g-6 ``[a]ny other transaction or class of transactions or 
persons or class of persons * * * as consistent with the public 
interest, and the protection of investors''). Paragraph (c)(1) of 
Rule 15g-9 excludes transactions covered by Rule 15g-1(f) (``For 
purposes of this section, the following transactions shall be 
exempt: (1) Transactions that are exempt under 17 CFR 240.15g-1(a), 
(b), (d), (e), and (f).'').
    Moreover, Section 36 of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. 78mm] grants 
the Commission general exemptive authority to the extent that such 
exemptions are necessary or appropriate in the public interest, and 
are consistent with the protection of investors.
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    Similarly, we can utilize exemptive authority to deal with sudden 
economic and geopolitical events, as we did in the days immediately 
following the market disruptions caused by the events of September 11, 
2001. At that time, we issued emergency orders under Section 12(k)(2) 
of the Exchange Act.\36\
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    \36\ Section 12(k)(2) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. 78l(k)(2)] 
states that, when certain conditions are met, ``[t]he Commission, in 
an emergency, may by order summarily take such action to alter, 
supplement, suspend, or impose requirements or restrictions, with 
respect to any matter or action subject to regulation by the 
Commission or a self-regulatory organization under [the Exchange 
Act], as the Commission determines is necessary in the public 
interest and for the protection of investors * * *'' See, e.g., 
Exchange Act Rel. Nos. 44791 (Sept. 14, 2001), 66 FR 48494 (Sept. 
20, 2001); and 44827 (Sept. 21, 2001), 66 FR 49438 (Sept. 27, 2001) 
(temporarily easing the conditions of Exchange Act Rule 10b-18, the 
safe harbor for issuer repurchases).
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    While we have considered the suggestion that we adopt a rule 
requiring ``truly'' uniform standards across all markets and exchanges, 
we believe that such an approach is inappropriate because it would 
require the Commission, as opposed to the markets, to establish listing 
standards. Such an approach would eliminate the flexibility SROs have 
to establish listing standards and undermine competition among markets 
on the basis of listing standards. In addition, the rule amendments we 
are now adopting permit Nasdaq and the ``grandfathered'' national 
securities exchanges to continue to operate as they currently do. 
Forcing all national securities exchanges

[[Page 40617]]

and Nasdaq to adopt uniform listing standards--standards formulated by 
the Commission and untested in the real world--would be disruptive to 
established markets and impose unnecessary costs. Hence, we decline to 
adopt this suggestion.
    We find that the proposed amendments to Rule 3a51-1(a) are 
consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors, 
and are adopting them with a technical modification to correct a 
typographical error in the proposal. As adopted, therefore, Rule 3a51-
1(a)(2)(i)(H) will provide that the security underlying the put 
warrants must be ``registered on a national securities exchange or 
listed on an automated quotation system sponsored by a registered 
national securities association and satisfy the requirements of 
paragraph (a) or (e) of this section.''
    These amendments will create a more meaningful distinction between 
securities that should be subject to the penny stock rules and those of 
more substantially capitalized issuers. They will therefore help ensure 
that we can continue to carry out Congress's stated goals with respect 
to penny stocks, as set forth in the Securities Enforcement Remedies 
and Penny Stock Reform Act of 1990 (``Penny Stock Reform Act''), 
regardless of changes in markets or market structures.\37\
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    \37\ See Pub. L. No. 101-429, 104 Stat. 931 (1990); Exchange Act 
Rel. No. 30608 (Apr. 20, 1992), 57 FR 18004 (Apr. 28, 1992). Among 
other things, Congress found when it enacted the Penny Stock Reform 
Act that:
    ``* * * (2) Protecting investors in new securities is a critical 
component in the maintenance of an honest and healthy market for 
such securities.
    (3) Protecting issuers of new securities and promoting the 
capital formation process on behalf of small companies are 
fundamental concerns in maintaining a strong economy and viable 
trading markets.''
    Penny Stock Reform Act, Sec. 502 [15 U.S.C. 78o note].
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B. Elimination of the Exclusion for Nasdaq Securities

    We also proposed eliminating the exclusion in paragraph (f) of Rule 
3a51-1 for certain securities quoted or authorized for quotation on 
Nasdaq upon notice of issuance because we believe it no longer serves 
any purpose.\38\ We requested comment on this proposal.\39\
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    \38\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2536 (recognizing 
that since 2001 SmallCap Market securities have been reported 
securities because they are securities reported pursuant to a 
transaction reporting plan approved by the Commission).
    \39\ Id.
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    One commenter agreed with the proposed elimination of paragraph (f) 
of Rule 3a51-1 on the grounds that SmallCap Market securities are now 
reported securities within the meaning of paragraph (a) of Rule 3a51-
1.\40\ Another commenter noted that it had no objection to this 
change.\41\ We find that the proposed amendment to Rule 3a51-1(f) is 
consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors, 
and are, therefore, adopting it without modification.
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    \40\ See letter from Donald J. Stoecklein, Stoecklein Law Group, 
to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, SEC (Mar. 15, 2004) (``Stoecklein 
letter'').
    \41\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29.
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C. New Exclusion for Security Futures Products

    We proposed amending Rule 3a51-1 to add new paragraph (f), which 
would exclude from the definition of penny stock security futures 
products listed on a national securities exchange or an automated 
quotation system sponsored by a registered national securities 
association.\42\ This approach is consistent with the treatment of 
options under the penny stock rules.\43\
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    \42\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2536. Security 
futures products are subject to a special disclosure regime. In 
particular, broker-dealers must provide their customers with a risk 
disclosure document before effecting transactions in security 
futures products for their customers. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 
46862 (Nov. 20, 2002), 67 FR 70993 (Nov. 27, 2002); Exchange Act 
Rel. No. 46614 (Oct. 7, 2002), 67 FR 64162 (Oct. 17, 2002). See also 
NASD Rule 2865(b)(1) and NFA Compliance Rule 2-30(b). Subjecting 
security futures products to the additional disclosure requirements 
of the penny stock rules, therefore, would likely be duplicative and 
unnecessarily burdensome.
    \43\ In particular, the term ``penny stock'' currently does not 
include any put or call options issued by the Options Clearing 
Corporation (``OCC''). See 17 CFR 240.3a51-1(c). This exclusion 
recognizes that the put and call options issued by the OCC are 
subject to special disclosure requirements. See Exchange Act Rel. 
No. 30608 (Apr. 20, 1992), 57 FR 18004, 18010 n. 39 (Apr. 28, 1992) 
(``In addition, because put and call options issued by the OCC are 
already subject to special disclosure requirements, they are 
separately excluded from the definition of penny stock in paragraph 
(c) of Rule 3a51-1.''). See also 17 CFR 240.9b-1; CBOE Rules 9.1-
9.23; and NASD Rule 2860(b)(16).
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    Two commenters addressed this proposed amendment. The NFA agreed 
with the Commission's analysis, and supported this proposed 
amendment.\44\ In addition, the Pace Investor Rights Project indicated 
that it had no objection to this proposed amendment.\45\ We find that 
this proposed amendment to Rule 3a51-1 is consistent with the public 
interest and the protection of investors, and are, therefore, adopting 
it without modification.
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    \44\ See letter from Thomas W. Sexton, Vice President and 
General Counsel, National Futures Association, to Jonathan G. Katz, 
Secretary, SEC (Mar. 15, 2004) (``Security futures products are 
subject to a comprehensive regulatory scheme that provides customers 
with protections that are at least as stringent as the protections 
provided by the Commission's penny stock rules.'').
    \45\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29.
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D. Other Amendments to Rule 3a51-1

    We also proposed eliminating the exception in paragraph (a) of Rule 
3a51-1 for Amex's Emerging Company Marketplace \46\ because it no 
longer exists.\47\ We received no comment regarding this proposed 
amendment. We find that this proposed amendment is consistent with the 
public interest and the protection of investors, and are, therefore, 
adopting it without modification.
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    \46\ This exception provides that any security that is listed on 
the Amex pursuant to the listing criteria of the Emerging Company 
Marketplace, but that does not satisfy the requirements of paragraph 
(b), (c), or (d) of Rule 3a51-1, is a penny stock solely for 
purposes of the penny stock bar provisions of Exchange Act Section 
15(b)(6).
    \47\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2532 n. 11.
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    In addition, we proposed amending the exclusion for certain other 
exchange-registered securities provided by paragraph (e) of Rule 3a51-1 
\48\ to require that these securities satisfy, in addition to the 
existing requirements of paragraph (e), one of the standards described 
above applicable to reported securities that are exchange-registered in 
order to be excluded from the definition of penny stock.\49\ We also 
proposed amending the exception in paragraph (e) of Rule 3a51-1 \50\ to 
make clear that a security that satisfies the requirements of paragraph 
(e) and also satisfies the requirements of paragraph (a), (b), (c), 
(d), (f) or (g) of Rule 3a51-1 is not a penny stock for purposes of 
Section 15(b)(6) of the Exchange Act.\51\

[[Page 40618]]

Only one commenter explicitly addressed these proposed amendments to 
paragraph (e) and this commenter stated it had no objections to 
them.\52\ We find that these proposed amendments are consistent with 
the public interest and the protection of investors, and are, 
therefore, adopting them without modification.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \48\ 17 CFR 240.3a51-1(e). See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 
FR at 2534.
    \49\ Id. at 2534 n. 34. We explained when we proposed these 
amendments that, as a result of these changes to paragraphs (a) and 
(e) of Rule 3a51-1, regardless of whether the OTC Bulletin Board or 
any successor to the OTC Bulletin Board is operated by a national 
securities exchange or a registered national securities association, 
the OTC Bulletin Board or any successor to it must satisfy the 
initial and continued listing standard requirements that we are 
adopting in order to qualify for either exclusion from the 
definition of penny stock. We noted, however, that in adopting these 
amendments, the Commission was not expressing a view regarding the 
pending application for registration of Nasdaq as a national 
securities exchange.
    \50\ Id. at 2534. As originally adopted, this exception provides 
that a security that satisfies the requirements of paragraph (e), 
but that does not otherwise satisfy the requirements of paragraph 
(a), (b), (c), or (d) of Rule 3a51-1, is a penny stock solely for 
purposes of the penny stock bar provisions of Exchange Act Section 
15(b)(6).
    \51\ New paragraph (f), discussed above, will provide an 
exclusion for security futures products. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 
49037, 69 FR at 2534 n. 36. We noted when we proposed these 
amendments that it would be appropriate to expand the exception in 
paragraph (e) to include this new exclusion for security futures 
products. As a result, security futures products will be treated in 
the same way as put or call options issued by the OCC for purposes 
of the exception in paragraph (e). We also explained that the 
expansion of the exception in paragraph (e) to include paragraph (g) 
was intended to clarify a potential ambiguity in the rule, and it 
was not intended to be a substantive change to the rule.
    \52\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29.
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III. Amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9

A. Background

1. Rule 15g-2
    Rule 15g-2(a) makes it unlawful for a broker-dealer to effect a 
transaction in a penny stock with or for the account of a customer 
unless the broker-dealer distributes to the customer, prior to 
effecting a transaction in a penny stock, a disclosure document, as set 
forth in Schedule 15G,\53\ and receives a signed and dated 
acknowledgement of receipt of that document from the customer in 
tangible form.\54\ The document (``penny stock disclosure document''), 
which must contain the information set forth in Schedule 15G, gives 
several important warnings to investors concerning the penny stock 
market, and cautions investors against making a hurried investment 
decision. Among other things, the penny stock disclosure document 
points out that salespersons are not impartial advisors, that investors 
should compare information from the salesperson with other information 
on the penny stock, and that investors in penny stocks should be 
prepared for the possibility of losing their whole investment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \53\ 17 CFR 240.15g-100 (``Information to be included in the 
document distributed pursuant to 17 CFR 240.15g-2''). This 
disclosure document provides the customer with information and 
warnings about the risky nature of penny stocks, details the 
disclosures that the broker-dealer is required to give to the 
customer, and contains information concerning brokers' duties and 
customers' rights and remedies.
    \54\ Rule 15g-2(a) [15 CFR 240.15g-2(a)] provides, ``(a) It 
shall be unlawful for a broker or dealer to effect a transaction in 
any penny stock for or with the account of a customer unless, prior 
to effecting such transaction, the broker or dealer has furnished to 
the customer a document containing the information set forth in 
Schedule 15G, 17 CFR 240.15g-100, and has obtained from the customer 
a manually signed and dated written acknowledgement of receipt of 
the document.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Rule 15g-9
    Rule 15g-9, which was originally adopted as Rule 15c2-6 under the 
Exchange Act, was designed to address sales practice abuses involving 
certain speculative low-priced securities being traded in the non-
Nasdaq over-the-counter (``OTC'') market.\55\ Rule 15g-9 generally 
prohibits a broker-dealer from selling a penny stock to, or effecting 
the purchase of a penny stock by, any person unless the broker-dealer 
has approved the purchaser's account for transactions in penny stocks 
and received the purchaser's agreement in tangible form to the 
transaction.\56\
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    \55\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2538 n. 68 
(discussing Exchange Act Rule 15c2-6).
    \56\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In approving an account for transactions in penny stocks, a broker-
dealer must obtain sufficient information from the customer to make an 
appropriate suitability determination, provide the customer with a 
statement setting forth the basis of the determination, and obtain a 
signed copy of the suitability statement from the customer in tangible 
form.\57\ By requiring the customer to agree in tangible form to 
purchases of penny stocks, Rule 15g-9(a)(2)(ii) was intended to provide 
the customer with an opportunity to make an investment decision outside 
of a high-pressure telephone conversation with a salesperson. It 
removes the pressure for an immediate decision.\58\ We believe this 
requirement is critical to the effectiveness of the rule.\59\
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    \57\ Rule 15g-9 provides, in pertinent part:
    (a) As a means reasonably designed to prevent fraudulent, 
deceptive, or manipulative acts or practices, it shall be unlawful 
for a broker or dealer to sell a penny stock to, or to effect the 
purchase of a penny stock by, any person unless:
    * * *
    (2) Prior to the transaction:
    (i) The broker or dealer has approved the person's account for 
transactions in penny stocks in accordance with the procedures set 
forth in paragraph (b) of this section; and
    (ii) The broker or dealer has received from the person a written 
agreement to the transaction setting forth the identity and quantity 
of the penny stock to be purchased.
    \58\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2538 n. 72 
(explaining that Rule 15c2-6 was designed to interfere with the 
cold-calling sales tactics of ``boiler room'' operations).
    \59\ Id. (explaining that the written agreement requirement was 
intended to ensure that a customer's final decision would be made 
outside of a pressuring telephone call and that it was also intended 
to provide objective evidence of whether a customer agreed to a 
penny stock transaction).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, the requirement that the broker-dealer provide a copy 
of its suitability determination to the customer prior to the 
customer's commitment to purchase a penny stock was intended to provide 
the customer with the opportunity to review that determination and 
decide whether the broker-dealer had made a good faith attempt to 
consider the customer's financial situation, investment experience and 
investment objectives.\60\ The requirement that the broker-dealer 
receive a signed copy of the suitability statement in tangible form is 
also intended ``to convey to the customer the importance of the 
suitability statement, and to prevent a salesperson from convincing the 
customer to sign the statement without a review for accuracy.'' \61\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ Id. at 2538.
    \61\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9

    The amendments to Rule 15g-2(b) will impose a uniform waiting 
period of two business days that can be satisfied by waiting two days 
after sending the penny stock disclosure document required by the rule 
electronically or by mail or some other paper-based means.\62\ As 
amended, the rule will make it unlawful for a broker-dealer to effect a 
transaction in a penny stock for or with the account of a customer 
unless, prior to effecting the transaction, the broker-dealer 
distributes to the customer a penny stock disclosure document, and has 
obtained from the customer a signed and dated acknowledgement of 
receipt of that document.\63\ The amendments to Rule 15g-2 are designed 
to preserve parity between electronic and paper communications in the 
context of the disclosure requirements of the penny stock rules.
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    \62\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-2(b) (``Regardless of the form of 
acknowledgement used to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a) of 
this section, it shall be unlawful for a broker or dealer to effect 
a transaction in a penny stock for or with the account of a customer 
less than two business days after the broker or dealer sends such 
document.'').
    \63\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-2(a) (``It shall be unlawful for a 
broker or dealer to effect a transaction in any penny stock for or 
with the account of a customer unless, prior to effecting such 
transaction, the broker or dealer has furnished to the customer a 
document containing the information set forth in Schedule 15G, 17 
CFR 240.15g-100, and has obtained from the customer a signed and 
dated acknowledgement of receipt of the document.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are also amending Rule 15g-9 to provide that a broker-dealer 
cannot execute the relevant penny stock transaction until at least two 
business days after it has sent the suitability statement required by 
Rule 15g-9(b) \64\

[[Page 40619]]

and the agreement to the transaction in a penny stock required by Rule 
15g-9(a)(2)(ii)\65\ electronically or by mail or some other paper-based 
means. The amended rule will continue to require that the broker-dealer 
receive these signed documents, in either electronic \66\ or paper 
form, back from the customer before executing the transaction.\67\ As 
with the amendments to Rule 15g-2, the amendments to Rule 15g-9 are 
designed to preserve parity between electronic and paper communications 
in the context of the disclosure requirements of the penny stock rules.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \64\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-9(b)(4)(ii) (``Regardless of the form of 
the statement used to satisfy the requirements of paragraph 
(b)(4)(i) of this section, it shall be unlawful for such broker or 
dealer to sell a penny stock to, or to effect the purchase of a 
penny stock by, for or with the account of a customer less than two 
business days after the broker or dealer sends such statement.'').
    \65\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-9(a)(2)(ii)(B) (``Regardless of the form 
of the agreement used to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (A) 
of this section, it shall be unlawful for such broker or dealer to 
sell a penny stock to, or to effect the purchase of a penny stock 
by, for or with the account of a customer less than two business 
days after the broker or dealer sends such agreement.'').
    \66\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2540 n. 96 
(noting that an electronic acknowledgement of receipt generated 
automatically by certain e-mail programs when an e-mail message is 
delivered or opened would not satisfy any of these requirements).
    \67\ The amendments require that the broker-dealer continue to 
receive: (1) A signed and dated suitability statement as required 
under Rule 15g-9(b); and (2) an agreement to a transaction in a 
penny stock as required by Rule 15g-9(a)(2)(ii).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We received three comments regarding the proposed amendments to 
Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9. Two commenters were generally supportive,\68\ 
while one commenter was opposed to the changes to these rules.\69\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \68\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29, and Stoecklein letter, 
supra at n. 40.
    \69\ See letter from Mark Beloyan to Jonathan G. Katz, 
Secretary, SEC (Mar. 15, 2004) (``Beloyan letter'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Pace Investor Rights Project generally supported the proposed 
amendments, but expressed the view that the proposed two-business day 
waiting period is inadequate because it is too short. In this 
commenter's opinion, the penny stock disclosure document required by 
Rule 15g-2 and the suitability statement required by Rule 15g-9 are the 
two most important vehicles for informing and educating the first-time 
penny stock investor. This commenter suggested a minimum five-business 
day waiting period, asserting that this longer period would provide 
sufficient time for the customer to reflect fully upon the proposed 
transaction, read the documentation, and seek additional information 
without sales pressure.\70\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \70\ See Pace letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another commenter approved of the proposed amendments but suggested 
a two-calendar day waiting period instead of a two-business day waiting 
period, indicating that a weekend or a holiday period would provide an 
adequate cooling-off period. This commenter also suggested that the 
cooling-off period commence on receipt of the document back from the 
customer, because, at least with regard to electronic documents, there 
are verifiable electronic means of determining the exact time of 
receipt.\71\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \71\ See Stoecklein letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In contrast, a representative of a broker-dealer characterized the 
proposed two-business day waiting period as ``ridiculous.'' \72\ In his 
view, the amendments were not practical because, by waiting two 
business days, a broker would not be giving his client best execution. 
Moreover, the commenter stated that the broker's client would be upset 
if the price of the stock the broker recommended increased during this 
two-day waiting period. The commenter also indicated that, rather than 
waiting, the client would decide to buy the stock through an Internet 
account as an unsolicited order and get immediate execution.\73\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \72\ See Beloyan letter (emphasis in original).
    \73\ Id. This commenter stated that ``timing is the main 
component of the stock market and if you take timing away from 
brokers then you take the ability to trade and this doesn't serve 
the investment community.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After carefully considering the comments, we are adopting the two-
business day waiting period as proposed. We believe that this time 
period effectively preserves the status quo by replicating the time it 
would take for postal delivery of the documents required by Rules 15g-2 
and 15g-9.\74\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \74\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2536 and 2548.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    While we appreciate the suggestions to expand the waiting period to 
five business days or constrict it to two calendar days, we are not 
persuaded that either suggestion would provide superior protections to 
investors. We believe that two business days is sufficiently long 
period of time for potential penny stock investors to reflect on a 
proposed transaction, and that a five-business day waiting period would 
unnecessarily impair investors' ability to engage in transactions that 
they choose to complete.
    Moreover, neither a five-business day waiting period nor a two-
calendar day waiting period would replicate the cooling-off period of 
postal mail. Our intention in proposing these amendments was to provide 
investors with the same cooling-off period, regardless of the means of 
communication. A two-business day waiting period accomplishes this. For 
the same reason, we decline to adopt the suggestion to commence the 
cooling-off period on receipt of the document back from the customer. 
We continue to believe that the appropriate time to begin the waiting 
period is when the documents are sent by the broker-dealer.\75\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \75\ Id. at 2540.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With respect to the concerns expressed by the representative of the 
broker-dealer, we believe that they do not reflect the limited 
circumstances in which Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 apply.\76\ As we discussed 
in detail when we proposed these rule amendments, the rules are 
narrowly focused to protect retail investors against the types of 
abusive and fraudulent sales practices that Congress considered in 
enacting the Penny Stock Reform Act--``boiler room'' sales tactics and 
so-called ``pump and dump'' schemes by penny stock market makers. In 
addition, as noted above, we do not believe that the explicit waiting 
periods imposed under these amendments will increase the existing 
burdens under the penny stock rules. Indeed, with respect to 
communications sent through the mail, the rules already effectively 
impose a similar waiting period.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \76\ Id. at 2537-38. Most notably, these rules would not apply 
to broker-dealers that have not received more than five percent of 
their commissions and certain other revenue from transactions in 
penny stocks during each of the preceding three months and have not 
made a market in the penny stock to be purchased by the customer 
during the preceding twelve months. See Rule 15g-1(a) [17 CFR 
240.15g-1(a)]. In addition, they do not apply when the customer is 
an institutional accredited investor or when the broker-dealer did 
not recommend to the customer the penny stock to be purchased. See 
Rules 15g-1(b) and (e) [17 CFR 240.15g-1(b) and (e)]. Moreover, the 
provisions of Rule 15g-9 do not apply if the customer is an 
established customer of the broker-dealer; that is, if the customer 
has had an account with the broker-dealer in which the customer (1) 
has effected a securities transaction or deposited funds more than 
one year previously, or (2) has already made three purchases 
involving different penny stocks on different days. See Rules 15g-
9(c)(3) and 15g-9(d)(2) [17 CFR 240.15g-9(c)(3) and 240.15g-
9(d)(2)].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One commenter expressed concern regarding e-mail-only delivery and 
acknowledgement, or Web-based methods requiring only a single click or 
response as a means of satisfying the requirements of the penny stock 
rules.\77\ In this commenter's view, hard copy delivery is more 
effective for initial educational and cooling-off purposes.\78\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \77\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29.
    \78\ Id. (``We believe that hard copy delivery will be more 
effective for initial educational and cooling-off purposes. In 
particular, we believe it is very important for customers to review 
the broker's suitability determination. In general, we do not 
support e-mail-only delivery and acknowledgment approaches or web-
based methods requiring only a single click or response.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although we understand this commenter's concerns, we originally 
addressed this issue in our 1996

[[Page 40620]]

electronic media release, which provided guidance to broker-dealers, 
transfer agents, and investment advisers regarding the use of 
electronic media to fulfill their delivery obligations under the 
Federal securities laws. Among other things, we explicitly allowed 
broker-dealers to meet their delivery obligations under the penny stock 
rules by electronic means.\79\ We specifically determined, however, 
that broker-dealers should continue to obtain from customers signatures 
and agreements in tangible form under the penny stock rules.\80\ 
Congress subsequently determined in the Electronic Signatures in Global 
and National Commerce Act (``Electronic Signatures Act'') that no 
signature, contract, or other record relating to a transaction in 
interstate or foreign commerce may be denied legal effect, validity or 
enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.\81\ 
Implementation of the provisions of the Electronic Signatures Act in 
the context of Exchange Act Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 requires us to strike 
a balance between facilitating the use of electronic communications, as 
contemplated by the Electronic Signatures Act, and maintaining the 
important investor protections of the Penny Stock Reform Act.\82\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \79\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 37182 (May 9, 1996), 61 FR 24644, 
24649 n. 50 (May 15, 1996) (``While broker-dealers may not meet the 
signature requirement under Rule 15g-9 by electronic means, the 
Commission believes that, consistent with the guidance set forth in 
this interpretation, they may meet their delivery obligations to 
their customers under this rule by electronic means. The risk 
disclosure document that broker-dealers are required to furnish to 
their customers under Rule 15g-2 is subject to strict formatting and 
typefacing restrictions. In order to comply with the requirements 
set forth in the instructions to Schedule 15G, a risk disclosure 
document delivered electronically, when printed, would have to 
result in a document that meets the requirements and contains the 
exact text of Schedule 15G.'').
    \80\ Id. at 24646 n. 12 (``[T]he Commission believes that in 
order to fulfill the purposes of the Securities Enforcement Remedies 
and Penny Stock Reform Act of 1990, broker-dealers should continue 
to have customers manually sign and return in paper form any 
documents that require a customer's signature or written 
agreement.'').
    \81\ See Pub. L. 106-229, 114 Stat. 464 (2000) (codified at 15 
U.S.C. 7001 et seq. (2001)).
    \82\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2539 n. 90. In 
that footnote, we explained that we were expressing no view 
regarding how the Electronic Signatures Act affects the federal 
securities laws other than with respect to the effect of Section 
101(a) of the Act on: (1) The ability of broker-dealers to obtain 
from customers signatures and agreements in electronic form to 
satisfy the requirements of Exchange Act Rule 15g-9 that customers 
provide a signed and dated copy of the suitability statement and an 
agreement for a particular transaction; and (2) the Rule 15g-2 
requirement that customers provide a signed and dated 
acknowledgement of receipt of the penny stock disclosure document.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, we believe that this commenter's concern about an 
acknowledgment procedure consisting of simply a single click or 
response is largely addressed by existing requirements of the penny 
stock rules. Investors must acknowledge the receipt of three separate 
documents pursuant to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9. We believe that three 
separate documents and the acknowledgment procedures they require 
should alert investors to the significance of their decision to invest 
in a penny stock.\83\ In addition, as discussed below, we are also 
adopting amendments to Schedule 15G designed to ensure that the 
disclosure, in the case of electronic transmission, is clear and 
meaningful. Specifically, the first paragraph of the penny stock 
disclosure document tells investors that it contains important 
information and that they should read it carefully before they sign it 
and before they decide to purchase or sell a penny stock.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \83\ We believe that there should be separate acknowledgment 
procedures for each document required by Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 and 
that these procedures must provide a meaningful opportunity for 
investors to review all of the information being provided to them 
before acknowledging receipt of each document. For example, before 
providing an investor with an opportunity to acknowledge receipt, 
the entire document should be provided to the investor in clear, 
easy-to-read type reasonably calculated to draw the investor's 
attention to the language in the document. For longer documents, an 
investor should be required to scroll through the entire document 
before being able to acknowledge receipt of the document. As a 
result, we do not believe it would be appropriate for firms to 
permit investors to acknowledge the receipt of all three documents 
by means of a single click.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

IV. Amendments to Schedule 15G

    We proposed a number of amendments to the penny stock disclosure 
document and its instructions set forth in Schedule 15G.\84\ The 
proposed amendments were intended to modernize the document and make it 
more readable and more useful to potential penny stock investors.\85\ 
In particular, we proposed eliminating specific references to Nasdaq 
such as ``quoted on NASDAQ,'' ``quoted on the NASDAQ system'' or 
``quoted on the NASD's automated quotation system.'' We also proposed 
revising the document, consistent with the amendments to Rule 3a51-1 
discussed above, to inform investors that penny stocks may trade on 
facilities of national securities exchanges and foreign exchanges. In 
addition, we proposed revising the penny stock disclosure document so 
that it would inform penny stock customers of the procedures, including 
waiting periods, to be followed in light of the amendments to Rules 
15g-2 and 15g-9. We also proposed adding the Internet addresses for the 
Commission, National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. 
(``NASD''), and the North American Securities Administrators 
Association, Inc.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \84\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-100.
    \85\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2542 (explaining 
that the current penny stock disclosure document was written over a 
decade ago and reflects the market as it existed at that time, and 
that the proposed revisions to the penny stock disclosure document 
would bring it up-to-date, and also make it more streamlined and 
understandable to investors).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, we proposed to significantly reorganize the penny stock 
disclosure document to make it more readable to investors. The original 
penny stock disclosure document was divided into two parts. The first 
part set forth in a single page the items required to be disclosed 
pursuant to Section 15(g)(2) of the Exchange Act (``Summary 
Document'').\86\ The second part supplemented and explained in greater 
detail the information provided in the Summary Document (``Explanatory 
Document'').\87\ We proposed to simplify and update the Summary 
Document and replace the Explanatory Document with a hyperlink to (or 
in the case of a paper document, the Internet address of) the section 
of the Commission's Web site that provides investors with information 
regarding microcap securities, including penny stocks.\88\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \86\ Id. at 2541.
    \87\ Id.
    \88\ The revised document is designed to be succinct and to 
catch the attention of readers by highlighting issues that call for 
investor caution. Moreover, we believe that the revised document 
achieves the purposes of Section 15(g)(2) of the Exchange Act more 
effectively by providing investors with the information in a more 
accessible and understandable format. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 
49037, 69 FR at 2541. See also Exchange Act Rel. No. 30608, 57 FR at 
18017-18 (discussing the penny stock disclosure document).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We also proposed revising Schedule 15G so that it would provide 
instructions regarding how to electronically provide the penny stock 
disclosure document to investors.\89\ For broker-dealers that 
electronically send their customers a penny stock disclosure document, 
the amendments we are adopting will require the e-mail containing the 
penny stock disclosure document to have as a subject line: ``Important 
Information on Penny Stocks.'' If the penny stock disclosure document 
is reproduced in the text of the e-mail, it would need to be clear and 
easy to read. When information is required to be printed in bold-face 
type, underlined, or capitalized, the proposed amendments to the rule 
would allow issuers to satisfy such requirements by presenting the 
information in any

[[Page 40621]]

manner reasonably calculated to draw attention to it.\90\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \89\ In addition to the proposed instructions, the use of 
electronic media to provide the document is subject to applicable 
legal requirements. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2539 
n. 90.
    \90\ Id. at 2542 n. 103 (explaining that rather than 
promulgating and enforcing exacting technical requirements about how 
the penny stock disclosure document must be presented 
electronically, we have decided to follow the approach we adopted in 
1996). See also Exchange Act Rel. No. 37183 (May 9, 1996), 61 FR 
24652 (May 15, 1996).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We also proposed permitting the penny stock disclosure document to 
be sent electronically using a hyperlink to where the document is 
located on the Commission's Web site. Pursuant to the adopted 
amendments, the e-mail containing the hyperlink will need to have as a 
subject line: ``Important Information on Penny Stocks.'' Immediately 
before the hyperlink, the text of the e-mail will need to reproduce the 
following statement in clear, easy-to-read type that is reasonably 
calculated to draw attention to the words: ``We are required by the 
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to give you the following 
disclosure statement: http://www.sec.gov/investor/schedule15g.htm. It 
explains some of the risks of investing in penny stocks. Please read it 
carefully before you agree to purchase or sell a penny stock.''
    Furthermore, we are adopting amendments that will require all e-
mail messages transmitting the penny stock disclosure document or a 
hyperlink to the penny stock disclosure document found on the 
Commission's Web site to provide the name, address, e-mail address and 
telephone number of the broker sending the message. No other 
information can be included in this e-mail message, except any privacy 
or confidentiality information routinely included in e-mail messages 
sent to customers from that broker, as well as instructions on how to 
provide a signed and dated acknowledgement of receipt of the 
document.\91\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \91\ Id. at 2542.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We received two comments regarding the proposed changes to the 
penny stock disclosure document and the instructions in Schedule 15G. 
One commenter generally supported the proposed changes to the penny 
stock disclosure document, but expressed concern regarding the 
dissemination of this document via hyperlink, unless the hyperlink is 
part of a comprehensive, multi-step on-line delivery and 
acknowledgement procedure.\92\ This commenter also viewed hard copies 
as preferable to electronic copies, and urged the Commission to require 
brokers-dealers to send customers a hard copy of the expanded 
information available on the Commission's Web site, unless the customer 
explicitly requests otherwise.\93\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \92\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29 (``We applaud the 
Commission's proposed effort to simplify and streamline the penny 
stock disclosure document. We generally approve of the revised 
content and, in particular, we are pleased with the inclusion of 
toll-free numbers for regulatory agencies.'').
    \93\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We have considered these suggestions in light of the increasingly 
electronic nature of commerce in general and the securities industry in 
particular.\94\ As noted previously in this release, we determined in 
our 1996 electronic media release that broker-dealers could satisfy the 
delivery requirements of the penny stock rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 by means 
of electronic media.\95\ Moreover, we continue to believe that 
providing a hyperlink is an efficient method of alerting potential 
penny stock investors to the existence of the Commission's Web site and 
providing them with ready access to the useful information on our Web 
site about investing in penny stocks and microcap securities.\96\ In 
addition, under the amended rules, a broker-dealer would be required to 
provide a customer, upon request, with a copy of the additional 
information regarding microcap securities, including penny stocks, from 
the Commission's Web site.\97\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \94\ In our 1996 electronic media release, we noted that the 
electronic distribution of information provides numerous benefits 
and the use of electronic communications is growing among all 
participants in securities transactions. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 
37182, 61 FR at 4645 (citing Securities Act Rel. No. 7233 (Oct. 6, 
1995), 60 FR 53458 (Oct. 13, 1995)).
    \95\ See supra at n. 79.
    \96\ This approach permits investors to better analyze the penny 
stock transaction being offered to them since they will have access 
not only to the portion of the Commission's Web site that deals with 
investing in penny stocks and microcap securities, but also to all 
of the other information posted on the Commission's Web site. An 
interested investor could, therefore, browse the entire Commission's 
Web site and perhaps better educate him or herself before making an 
investment decision. As we noted in our 2000 electronic media 
release, ``One of the key benefits of electronic media is that 
information can be disseminated to investors and the financial 
markets rapidly and in a cost-effective and widespread manner.'' See 
Exchange Act Rel. No. 42728 (Apr. 28, 2000), 65 FR 25843, 25844 (May 
4, 2000).
    \97\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2542.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another commenter urged the Commission to be prescriptive and to 
specify in detail how the penny stock disclosure document should appear 
electronically, rather than allowing the information to be presented in 
a manner reasonably calculated to draw attention to it.\98\ While we 
appreciate the commenter's concerns, we believe that an attempt to 
impose this kind of uniformity through exacting technical requirements 
would be both burdensome and impractical in light of the variety of 
software and hardware employed by broker-dealers. Rather than requiring 
uniformity, we have attempted to balance broker-dealers' implementation 
and ongoing costs with the benefits to investors. We do, however, 
expect broker-dealers to use this flexibility to craft clear and easily 
accessible penny stock disclosure documents.\99\
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    \98\ See Stoecklein letter, supra at n. 40 (``We believe that 
the Commission should be prescriptive and specify in detail how the 
proposed disclosure document should appear electronically, as 
opposed to allowing the satisfaction of the requirements by 
`presenting the information in any manner reasonably calculated to 
draw attention to it.' This would provide consistency in the 
disclosure documentation and avoid misunderstanding or further 
clarification in the future.'').
    \99\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2542 n. 103.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One commenter also suggested that the disciplinary history of a 
broker or firm could be provided as part of the initial 
disclosures.\100\ While we understand the goal of trying to provide 
investors with information they may need in one comprehensive package, 
we believe that the penny stock disclosure document, as proposed, gives 
investors clear information about how they can easily seek out 
disciplinary history from NASD or their state securities official--
either by telephone or via the Internet. The document also urges 
investors to ask about the disciplinary history of the broker and the 
firm with whom they are dealing. Although we could adopt the 
commenter's suggestion and require firms to provide this information, 
we believe that the procedure we are adopting today will better serve 
investors than such an approach. Encouraging investors to contact the 
NASD or their state securities regulator will not only help investors 
to obtain more up-to-date information, but also assist them in 
obtaining more comprehensive information than they might get from a 
broker-dealer. Moreover, requiring that such information be included in 
the penny stock disclosure document would undercut our goal of making 
the document more succinct and therefore more readable and useful to 
investors.\101\
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    \100\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29.
    \101\ Significantly, when we adopted the penny stock rules some 
commenters suggested that a description of the type of disciplinary 
history available from the NASD and the North American Securities 
Administrators Association, Inc. be included in the penny stock risk 
disclosure document. We declined to do so at that time because we 
believed that such a specific explanation might be confusing to the 
ordinary investors. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 30608, 57 FR at 18018 
n. 113.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We have, therefore, decided to adopt the amendments to the penny 
stock disclosure document and the

[[Page 40622]]

instructions to it set forth in Schedule 15G as proposed. These 
amendments recognize and keep pace with changes in communications 
technology over the past decade by continuing to provide potential 
penny stock investors with important information before a sale takes 
place. These amendments will enable investors and the broker-dealers 
with whom they do business to comply with the requirements of Rules 
15g-2 and 15g-9 while using modern methods of electronic communication.

V. Other Comments

    One commenter expressed concern that the penny stock rules 
interfere with investors' ability to make risky investments and to 
speculate.\102\ Notably, in adopting the predecessor to Rule 15g-9, the 
Commission explained, ``The target of the Rule [15c2-6] is sales 
practice abuse and manipulation, not small issuers or speculative 
investment decisions per se. It is, however, in [penny stocks] that the 
Commission has found that a disproportionate number of such abuses 
occur, and it is for this reason that the Commission is adopting a 
prophylactic rule for recommended sales of such securities.'' \103\ 
These amendments are designed to maintain the existing penny stock rule 
protections. This commenter also questioned the effect of the rule 
amendments on venture capital and small public companies, but did not 
provide any supporting information. \104\
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    \102\ See Beloyan letter, supra at n. 69 (``[Investors] know 
what they are doing and they know they want to risk some of their 
capital for a potential big reward or even want the chance to win 
big if the[y] [sic] find the next Microsoft, Cisco, [sic] IBM. Why 
does the SEC want to take that away from consenting adults? If an 
investor has bought penny stocks before at another firm and wants to 
do business with me in penny stocks, he still has to fill out the 
existing forms, why make him wait 2 days and jump through all those 
hoops?'').
    \103\ Exchange Act Rel. No. 27160 (Aug. 22, 1989), 54 FR 35468, 
35479 (Aug. 28, 1989). When Congress adopted the Penny Stock Reform 
Act, it explicitly endorsed Rule 15c2-6. See House Comm. on Energy 
and Commerce, Report to Accompany the Penny Stock Reform Act of 
1990, H.R. Rep. No. 617, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. (Jul. 23, 1990) 
(reporting H.R. 4497) at 7 (``This legislation amends both the 
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and the Securities 
Act of 1993 (Securities Act) and issues legislative directives with 
the intention of curbing the pervasive fraud and manipulation of the 
penny stock market. * * * The Committee supports the ongoing 
initiatives of the Commission in combating penny stock fraud, 
including its adoption in August 1989 of its penny stock cold 
calling rule, Rule 15c2-6, under the Exchange Act.'').
    \104\ See Beloyan letter, supra at n. 69.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another commenter suggested that the ``transaction agreement'' 
include: (1) An up-to-date list of market makers for the solicited 
stock; and (2) a recent market share volume report indicating whether 
the soliciting broker is among the most active market makers in the 
solicited stock.\105\ In addition, this commenter suggested that 
broker-dealers should be required to provide transaction agreements for 
a minimum time period, perhaps two months, unless two conditions are 
met: (1) Three qualifying transactions have taken place; and (2) the 
customer opts out of the requirement by electing, in writing, to no 
longer receive and signs a transaction agreement.\106\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \105\ See Pace letter, supra at n. 29.
    \106\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    While we appreciate this commenter's thoughtful suggestions, our 
goal in this rulemaking is only to update the penny stock rules and 
ensure that they continue to provide the protections they have in the 
past decade despite changing market structures, new technology, and 
legislative developments. We, therefore, decline at this time to impose 
any additional requirements on broker-dealers.
    Another commenter stated that the proposed amendments are extremely 
hard to understand, and suggested that they be simplified.\107\ While 
we recognize that the penny stock rules are complex, we note that 
broker-dealers that do not solicit penny stock transactions are exempt 
from the rules' requirements. The penny stock rules are narrowly 
focused to protect retail investors against the types of abusive and 
fraudulent sales practices that Congress considered in enacting the 
Penny Stock Reform Act--``boiler room'' sales tactics and so-called 
``pump and dump'' schemes by penny stock market makers. While we are 
committed to ``plain English'' and regulatory simplification to the 
extent possible, broker-dealers that choose to engage in this 
particular business should be prepared to adhere to the requirements of 
the penny stock rules.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \107\ See letter from Jerry Seale, Investment Representative, 
BSC Securities, to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, SEC (Mar.15, 2004) 
(``With all due respect, the proposed regulations are extremely hard 
to understand. My suggestion is to simplify the rules in a summary 
form. You shouldn't have to have a law degree or spend 3 or 4 days 
in deep study to understand what is required. My interest in this 
rule is only to properly educate investors who come to me wanting to 
buy penny stocks. I never have solicited them.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, two commenters expressed concern about short selling 
activity in penny stocks.\108\ We considered these comments in 
connection with adopting Regulation SHO.\109\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \108\ See letter from William A. Dedrick, to Jonathan G. Katz, 
Secretary, SEC (Jan. 19, 2004) and letter from Richard W. Treharne, 
IV, to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, SEC (Feb. 25, 2004).
    \109\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 50103 (Jul. 28, 2004), 69 FR 
48008 (Aug. 6, 2004).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

VI. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

A. Rule 3a51-1 Analysis

    In proposing the amendments to Rule 3a51-1, we noted that the rule 
does not impose any ``collection of information'' requirements within 
the meaning of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (``PRA'').\110\ 
Similarly, the amendments to Rule 15g-100 do not impose any 
``collection of information'' requirements with the meaning of the PRA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \110\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, at section VIII. See also 
44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 Analyses

    In proposing these amendments to the penny stock rules, we noted 
that certain provisions of the amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 that 
we are adopting contain ``collection of information'' requirements 
within the meaning of the PRA.\111\ The title for the collection of 
information under current Rule 15g-2, ``Risk Disclosure Document 
Relating To the Penny Stock Market,'' contains a currently approved 
collection of information under OMB control number 3235-0434. The title 
for the collection of information under current Rule 15g-9, ``Sales 
Practice Requirements for Certain Low-Priced Securities,'' which the 
Commission is amending, contains a currently approved collection of 
information under OMB control number 3235-0385.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \111\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the proposing release, we solicited comment on the collection of 
information requirements and submitted these requirements to the Office 
of Management and Budget (``OMB'') for review in accordance with 44 
U.S.C. 3507 and 5 CFR 1320.11. OMB asked that we resubmit the 
requirements when the Commission adopted the rule amendments. The 
information received by a broker-dealer pursuant to Rules 15g-2 and 
15g-9 is mandatory. An agency may not sponsor, conduct, or require 
response to an information collection, unless a currently valid OMB 
control number is displayed. The information received by a broker-
dealer pursuant to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 is also governed by Regulation 
S-P \112\ and the internal policies of the broker-dealer regarding 
confidentiality. In addition, the Commission or an SRO may review

[[Page 40623]]

the information during the course of an examination.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \112\ See Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Pub. L. 106-
102, 113 Stat. 1338 (1999) (codified at 15 U.S.C. 6801 et seq.) 
(``Act''). Pursuant to Section 504 of the Act, the Commission 
adopted Regulation S-P on June 22, 2000. See 17 CFR Part 248, 
Privacy of Consumer Financial Information (Regulation S-P), Exchange 
Act Rel. No. 42974 (June 22, 2000), 65 FR 40334 (June 29, 2000).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We received eleven comments regarding the proposed amendments to 
Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9. None of the commenters addressed the PRA 
analysis of the proposed amendments, or any of the PRA issues raised by 
these amendments.
1. Summary of Collection of Information
    Rule 15g-2 requires broker-dealers to provide their customers with 
a penny stock disclosure document, as set forth in Schedule 15G under 
the Exchange Act, prior to each customer's first non-exempt transaction 
in a penny stock. The rule also requires a broker-dealer to obtain from 
its customer, in tangible form, a signed acknowledgement that he or she 
has received the required penny stock disclosure document. The broker-
dealer must maintain a copy of the customer's acknowledgement for at 
least three years following the date on which the penny stock 
disclosure document was provided to the customer. During the first two 
years of this period, the document must be maintained in an easily 
accessible place.\113\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \113\ See 17 CFR 240.15g-2(c) (citing to 17 CFR 240.17a-4(b)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The amendments that the Commission is adopting do not change the 
substance of the collection of information required by Rule 15g-2. The 
penny stock disclosure document will still have to be provided by a 
broker-dealer to a customer prior to a non-exempt transaction in a 
penny stock, and a signed copy of that document will still have to be 
received by the broker-dealer and maintained in its records for the 
required period of time.
    Rule 15g-9 requires a broker-dealer to produce a suitability 
determination for its customers and to obtain from the customer, in 
tangible form, a signed copy of that document prior to executing 
certain recommended transactions in penny stocks. The broker-dealer 
must also obtain, in tangible form, the customer's agreement to a 
particular recommended transaction in penny stocks, listing the issuer 
and number of shares of the particular penny stock to be purchased.
    As with the amendments to Rule 15g-2, the amendments to Rule 15g-9 
that we are adopting do not change the substance of the collection of 
information required by the rule. Broker-dealers will continue to be 
required to provide suitability determinations to their customers and 
receive a signed copy of that document prior to effecting non-exempted 
transactions in penny stocks.
    The amendments to Rules 15-2 and Rule 15-9 respond to advances in 
technology and legislative developments governing the expanded use of 
electronic communications. They are designed to maintain investor 
protections regardless of whether broker-dealers that are subject to 
the penny stock rules use paper copies or electronic communications to 
obtain the required documents and signatures required by Rules 15g-2 
and 15g-9.
2. Proposed Use of the Information
    As the Commission discussed in detail when proposing these 
amendments, Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 were adopted to provide important 
protections to investors solicited by broker-dealers to purchase penny 
stocks. These rules were intended to address some of the abusive and 
fraudulent sales practices (e.g., boiler room tactics and ``pump and 
dump'' schemes) that had characterized the market for penny stocks. The 
requirement in Rule 15g-2 that a broker-dealer provide the Schedule 15G 
penny stock disclosure document to its customer prior to effecting a 
penny stock transaction recommended by the broker-dealer was intended 
to make the customer aware of the risky nature of investing in penny 
stocks and provide information about the rights and remedies available 
to investors under the Federal securities laws. The requirement under 
Rule 15g-2 that a broker-dealer obtain, in tangible form, a signed 
acknowledgement of receipt of the Schedule 15G penny stock disclosure 
document was designed to give a customer the opportunity to carefully 
consider, outside of a high-pressure sales call, whether an investment 
in a penny stock that is recommended by a broker-dealer is appropriate 
for him or her.
    Similarly, the requirement in Rule 15g-9 that a broker-dealer 
provide a copy of its suitability determination to the customer prior 
to the customer's commitment to purchase a penny stock was intended to 
provide the customer with the opportunity to review that determination 
and decide whether the broker-dealer has made a good faith attempt to 
consider the customer's financial situation, investment experience, and 
investment objectives. The requirement that a broker-dealer receive, in 
tangible form, a signed copy of the suitability statement is also 
intended to convey to the customer the importance of the suitability 
statement, and to prevent a salesperson from convincing the customer to 
sign the statement without a review for accuracy. The Rule 15g-9 
requirement that the customer provide, in tangible form, an agreement 
to a particular transaction is intended to protect investors from 
fraudulent sales practices by identifying the particular stock and 
number of shares the customer has agreed to purchase.
    The amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 will apply to the means for 
the collection of information when broker-dealers send and receive the 
required documents electronically. The waiting period is designed to 
provide investors communicating electronically with their broker-
dealers with protections that are comparable to those that are 
available under the current penny stock rules, in light of the delays 
inherent in postal delivery.
    As the Commission stated in proposing the amendments, the 
information collected and maintained by broker-dealers pursuant to 
Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, including documents obtained by means of 
electronic communications, may be reviewed during the course of an 
examination by the Commission or an SRO for compliance with the 
provisions of the Federal securities laws and applicable SRO rules.
3. Respondents
    Exchange Act Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 only apply to broker-dealers 
effecting transactions in penny stocks that are not otherwise exempt. 
For example, Rule 15g-2 does do not apply if the security involved is 
not a penny stock, or if the broker-dealer did not recommend the 
transaction to its customer.\114\ It also does not apply to a broker-
dealer that has not been a market maker in the particular penny stock 
that it is recommending during the immediately preceding twelve months, 
or that has not received more than 5 percent of its commissions and 
certain other revenue from transactions in penny stocks during each of 
the preceding three months.\115\ Similarly, transactions with 
institutional or accredited investors are not subject to Rule 15g-
2.\116\ The rule also does not apply to transactions that meet the 
requirements of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, or 
transactions with an issuer not involving a public offering.\117\ A 
broker-

[[Page 40624]]

dealer must provide one copy of the penny stock disclosure document to 
its customer, prior to the first penny stock transaction that is 
subject to the rule. Essentially, Rule 15g-2 only applies to broker-
dealers making markets in the penny stocks they are recommending to 
non-accredited investors when they enter into their first penny stock 
transaction.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \114\ Rule 15g-1(e) [17 CFR 240.15g-1(e)].
    \115\ Rule 15g-1(a) [17 CFR 240.15g-1(a)].
    \116\ See Rule 15g-1(b) [17 CFR 240.15g-1(b)].
    \117\ See Rule 15g-1(c) [17 CFR 240.15g-1(c)]. It also does not 
apply to transactions in which the customer is an issuer, or a 
director, officer, general partner, or direct or indirect beneficial 
owner of more than 5 percent of any class of equity security of the 
issuer of the penny stock that is the subject of the transaction. 
Rule 15g-1(d) [17 CFR 240.15g-1(d)].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The same exemptions that apply to Rule 15g-2 also apply to Rule 
15g-9,\118\ along with one additional exemption. The provisions of Rule 
15g-9 do not apply if the customer is an ``established customer'' of 
the broker-dealer, that is, if the customer has had an account with the 
broker-dealer in which the customer (1) has effected a securities 
transaction or deposited funds more than one year previously, or (2) 
has already made three purchases involving different penny stocks on 
different days.\119\ Thus, the requirements to provide a suitability 
determination and a transaction agreement under Rule 15g-9 only apply 
in limited circumstances--if the customer is a relatively new customer 
of the penny stock market-making broker-dealer or has limited 
experience with penny stocks and is not an institutional accredited 
investor, and if the broker-dealer has solicited the customer to engage 
in a penny stock transaction. While a broker-dealer must provide the 
suitability determination to its customer once prior to that customer's 
first penny stock transaction that is subject to Rule 15g-9, the 
broker-dealer may have to obtain more than a single transaction 
agreement under the rule, depending on the circumstances. When the 
Commission proposed these amendments, it estimated that there are 
approximately 240 broker-dealers making markets in penny stocks that 
could, potentially, be subject to either Rule 15g-2 or Rule 15g-9.\120\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \118\ Rule 15g-9(c) [17 CFR 240.15g-9(c)] provides that 
transactions exempt under Rules 15g-1(a) (non-market maker 
exemption), 15g-1(b) (institutional accredited investor exemption), 
15g-1(d) (issuer/officer/director/significant shareholder 
exemption), and 15g-1(e) (non-recommended transaction exemption) are 
not subject to Rule 15g-9. While Rule 15g-9 does not specifically 
include the exemption found in Rule 15g-1(c), it nevertheless 
provides a somewhat similar exemption in that it exempts 
transactions that meet the requirements of 17 CFR 230.505 or 230.506 
(including, where applicable, the requirements of 17 CFR 230.501 
through 230.506, and 17 CFR 230.507 through 230.508), or 
transactions with an issuer not involving a public offering.
    \119\ See Rules 15g-9(c)(3) and 15g-9(d)(2) [17 CFR 240.15g-
9(c)(3) and 240.15g-9(d)(2)].
    \120\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 49037, 69 FR at 2544 n. 112. 
This estimate elicited no comments. We are, therefore, assuming that 
this estimate is accurate and we are using it to calculate the 
burden hour estimate required by the PRA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Total Annual Reporting and Recordkeeping Burden
    The amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 are designed to adapt these 
two rules to an electronic or Internet-based environment. Under the 
amendments, all penny stock transactions that are not exempted would be 
subject to a waiting period of two business days from the time a 
broker-dealer sends the required documents to its penny stock customer. 
Except for the imposition of a formal waiting period, the rule 
amendments will not impose any significant additional recordkeeping, 
reporting, or other compliance requirement on broker-dealers.
    The Commission noted when it proposed these amendments that a 
broker-dealer that becomes subject to the waiting period by complying 
with the rules' requirements through electronic communications may 
incur some additional costs associated with keeping track of the 
waiting period. Hence, the Commission recognized that under these 
amendments, broker-dealers subject to the penny stock rules may need to 
develop a tracking method to ensure compliance with the waiting period 
after receipt of the required signatures and agreements under the 
rules. As the Commission stated when it proposed the amendments, we 
expected that the amendments would result only in a minimal increase in 
burden. Moreover, the Commission stated that it believed there should 
be no non-hour costs associated with the requirement. We received no 
comments regarding these statements in the proposing release. We, 
therefore, are utilizing them for the purposes of this PRA analysis.
    The Commission estimated that there are approximately 240 broker-
dealers that could potentially be subject to current Rule 15g-2, and 
that each one of these firms processes an average of three new 
customers for penny stocks per week. Thus, each respondent will process 
approximately 156 penny stock disclosure documents per year (three new 
customers x 52 weeks per year). If communications in tangible form 
alone are used to satisfy the requirements of Rule 15g-2, the 
Commission calculated that (a) the copying and mailing of the penny 
stock disclosure document should take no more than two minutes per 
customer, and (b) each customer should take no more than eight minutes 
to review, sign, and return the penny stock disclosure document. Thus, 
the total existing respondent burden is approximately 10 minutes per 
response, or an aggregate total of 1,560 minutes per respondent (156 
penny stock disclosure documents x ten minutes per respondent). Since 
there are 240 respondents, the current annual burden is 374,400 minutes 
(1,560 minutes per each of the 240 respondents) or 6,240 hours. In 
addition, broker-dealers could incur a recordkeeping burden of 
approximately two minutes per response. Since there are approximately 
156 responses for each respondent, the respondents would incur an 
aggregate recordkeeping burden of 74,880 minutes (240 respondents x 156 
responses for each x 2 minutes per response) or 1,248 hours, under 
current Rule 15g-2. Accordingly, the aggregate annual hour burden 
associated with Rule 15g-2 (that is, if all respondents continue to use 
tangible means of communication to comply with the rule) is 
approximately 7,488 hours (6,240 response hours + 1,248 recordkeeping 
hours). We received no comments regarding this estimate. We are 
therefore utilizing this estimate in connection with calculating the 
burden hours required to comply with Rule 15g-2.
a. Estimated Burden Hours
i. Burden Hours for Rule 15g-2
    The Commission estimated that there are approximately 240 broker-
dealers that could potentially be subject to current Rule 15g-2, and 
that each one of these firms processes an average of three new 
customers for penny stocks per week. Thus, we concluded that each 
respondent would process approximately 156 penny stock disclosure 
documents per year. If communications in tangible form alone are used 
to satisfy the requirements of Rule 15g-2, the Commission calculated 
that (a) the copying and mailing of the penny stock disclosure document 
should take no more than two minutes per customer, and (b) each 
customer should take no more than eight minutes to review, sign and 
return the penny stock disclosure document. Thus, the total existing 
respondent burden is approximately 10 minutes per response, or an 
aggregate total of 1,560 minutes per respondent. Since there are 240 
respondents, the current annual burden is 374,400 minutes (1,560 
minutes per each of the 240 respondents) or 6,240 hours. In addition, 
broker-dealers could incur a recordkeeping burden of approximately two 
minutes per response. Since there are approximately 156 responses for 
each respondent, we determined that the respondents would incur an 
aggregate recordkeeping burden of 74,880 minutes (240 respondents x 156 
responses for each x

[[Page 40625]]

2 minutes per response) or 1,248 hours, under Rule 15g-2. Accordingly, 
we stated when we proposed the amendments that the current aggregate 
annual hour burden associated with Rule 15g-2 (that is, assuming that 
all respondents provide tangible copies of the required documents) is 
approximately 7,488 hours (6,240 response hours + 1,248 recordkeeping 
hours). We received no comments regarding this estimate. We are 
therefore utilizing this estimate in connection with the calculation of 
the hour burden associated with Rule 15g-2, as amended.
    We recognized, however, that the burden hours associated with Rule 
15g-2 may be slightly reduced when the penny stock disclosure document 
required under the rule is provided through electronic means such as e-
mail from the broker-dealer (e.g., the broker-dealer respondent may 
take only one minute, instead of the two minutes estimated above, to 
provide the penny stock disclosure document by e-mail to its customer) 
and return e-mail from the customer (the customer may take only seven 
minutes, to review, electronically sign and electronically return the 
penny stock disclosure document). In this regard, if each of the 
customer respondents estimated above communicates with his or her 
broker-dealer electronically, the total ongoing respondent burden would 
be approximately 8 minutes per response, or an aggregate total of 1,248 
minutes (156 customers x 8 minutes per respondent). Since there could 
be 240 respondents, the annual burden would be, if electronic 
communications were used by all customers, 299,520 minutes (1,248 
minutes per each of the 240 respondents) or 4,992 hours. Based on 
information available to us, we stated that we did not believe that 
recordkeeping burdens under Rule 15g-2 would increase if the required 
documents are sent or received by means of electronic communication, so 
the recordkeeping burden would remain at 1,248 hours. Thus, we 
concluded that if all broker-dealer respondents were to obtain and send 
the documents required under the rules electronically, the aggregate 
annual hour burden associated with Rule 15g-2 would be 6,240 (1,248 
hours + 4,992 hours). Again, we received no comments regarding these 
calculations. Therefore, we are once again utilizing this estimate to 
calculate the burden hours required for compliance with Rule 15g-2, as 
amended.
    In addition, we stated that, if the penny stock customer requests a 
paper copy of the information on the Commission's Web site regarding 
microcap securities, including penny stocks, from his or her broker-
dealer, we estimated that the printing and mailing of the document 
containing this information should take no more than two minutes per 
customer. Because many investors will have access to the Commission's 
Web site via computers located in their homes, or in easily accessible 
public places such as libraries, we estimated that, at most, a quarter 
of customers who are required to receive the Rule 15g-2 disclosure 
document will request that their broker-dealer provide them with the 
additional microcap and penny stock information posted on the 
Commission's Web site. Thus, each broker-dealer respondent would 
process approximately 39 requests for paper copies of this information 
per year or an aggregate total of 78 minutes per respondent (2 minutes 
per customer x 39 requests per respondent). Since there are 240 
respondents, we determined that the estimated annual burden is 18,720 
minutes (78 minutes per each of the 240 respondents) or 312 hours. We 
received no comments regarding this estimate. We are therefore 
utilizing it in connection with calculating the hour burden associated 
with Rule 15g-2, as amended.
    We acknowledged that we have no way of knowing how many broker-
dealers and customers will choose to communicate electronically. We 
assumed, however, that 50 percent of respondents would continue to 
provide documents and obtain signatures in tangible form and 50 percent 
would choose to communicate electronically to satisfy the requirements 
of Rule 15g-2, the total aggregate burden hours would be 7,176 
((aggregate burden hours for documents and signatures in tangible form 
x 0.50 of the respondents = 3,744 hours) + (aggregate burden hours for 
electronically signed and transmitted documents x 0.50 of the 
respondents = 3,120 hours) + (312 burden hours for those customers 
making requests for a copy of the information on the Commission's Web 
site)). These estimates were described in the proposing release and 
elicited no comments. We are, therefore, utilizing them in calculating 
the hour burdens required for compliance with Rule 15g-2, as amended.
ii. Burden Hours for Rule 15g-9
    Likewise, we used the estimate of approximately 240 broker-dealers 
in our analysis of Rule 15g-9. As with our Rule 15g-2 burden hour 
analysis, we first used the current burden hour analysis that assumes 
that only tangible means of communication are used to satisfy the 
rule's requirements. Next, we determined burden hours assuming that 
only electronic means of communication were used by broker-dealers and 
their customers. Finally, we assumed that half of the time 
communications in tangible form were used, and half of the time 
electronic means of communication were used. We received no comments 
regarding any estimates or calculations used in the analysis of the 
burden hours of Rule 15g-9 set forth in the proposing release.
    Recognizing at the outset that although the burden of Rule 15g-9 on 
a respondent varies depending on the frequency with which new customers 
are solicited, we estimated that firms process an average of three new 
customers for penny stocks per week. We again concluded that each 
respondent would process approximately 156 new customer suitability 
determinations per year. We also estimated that a broker-dealer would 
expend approximately one-half hour per new customer in obtaining, 
reviewing, and processing (including transmitting to the customer) the 
information required by Rule 15g-9, and each respondent would 
consequently spend 78 hours annually (156 customers x .5 hours) 
obtaining the information required in the rule. We determined, based on 
the estimate of 240 broker-dealer respondents, that the current annual 
burden of Rule 15g-9 is 18,720 hours (240 respondents x 78 hours). We 
received no comments regarding this estimate. We are therefore 
utilizing it in connection with the calculation of the burden hours of 
the Rule 15g-9, as amended.
    In addition, as with Rule 15g-2, we estimated that if tangible 
communications alone are used to transmit the documents required by 
Rule 15g-9, each customer should take: (1) No more than eight minutes 
to review, sign and return the suitability determination document; and 
(2) no more than two minutes to either read and return or produce the 
customer agreement for a particular recommended transaction in penny 
stocks, listing the issuer and number of shares of the particular penny 
stock to be purchased, and send it to the broker-dealer. Thus, we 
stated that the total current customer respondent burden is 
approximately 10 minutes per response, for an aggregate total of 1,560 
minutes for each broker-dealer respondent. Since there are 240 
respondents, we concluded that the current annual burden for customer 
responses is 374,400 minutes (1,560 customer minutes per each of the 
240 respondents) or 6,240 hours. We

[[Page 40626]]

received no comments regarding this estimate. We are therefore 
utilizing it in connection with calculating the hour burdens required 
for compliance with Rule 15g-9.
    In addition, we estimated that, if tangible means of communications 
alone are used, broker-dealers could incur a recordkeeping burden under 
Rule 15g-9 of approximately two minutes per response. Since there are 
approximately 240 broker-dealer respondents and each respondent would 
have approximately 156 responses annually, we stated that respondents 
would incur an aggregate recordkeeping burden of 74,880 minutes (240 
respondents x 156 responses x 2 minutes per response), or 1,248 hours. 
Accordingly, we determined that the aggregate annual hour burden 
associated with Rule 15g-9 is 26,208 hours (18,720 hours to prepare the 
suitability statement and agreement + 6,240 hours for customer review + 
1,248 recordkeeping hours). We received no comments regarding these 
estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing them in calculating the hour 
burdens associated with Rule 15g-9, as amended.
    We recognized that under the amendments to Rule 15g-9, the burden 
hours may be slightly reduced if the transaction agreement required 
under the rule is provided through electronic means such as e-mail from 
the customer to the broker-dealer (e.g., the customer may take only one 
minute, instead of the two minutes estimated above, to provide the 
transaction agreement by e-mail rather than regular mail). We stated 
that if each of the customer respondents estimated above communicates 
with his or her broker-dealer electronically, the total burden hours on 
the customers would be reduced from 10 minutes to 9 minutes per 
response, or an aggregate total of 1,404 minutes per respondent (156 
customers x 9 minutes for each customer). Since there are 240 
respondents, we estimated that the annual customer respondent burden, 
if electronic communications were used by all customers, would be 
approximately 336,960 minutes (240 respondents x 1,404 minutes per each 
respondent), or 5,616 hours. We also stated that we did not believe the 
hour burden on broker-dealers in obtaining, reviewing, and processing 
the suitability determination would be changed through use of 
electronic communications. In addition, we stated that we did not 
believe that, based on information currently available to us, 
recordkeeping burdens under Rule 15g-9 would change where the required 
documents were sent or received through means of electronic 
communication. Thus, we determined that if all broker-dealer 
respondents obtain and send the documents required under the rule 
electronically, the aggregate annual hour burden associated with Rule 
15g-9 would be 25,584 hours (18,720 hours to prepare the suitability 
statement and agreement + 5,616 hours for customer review + 1,248 
recordkeeping hours). We received no comments regarding these 
estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing them in our calculations of the 
burden hours imposed by Rule 15g-9, as amended.
    We stated that we cannot estimate how many broker-dealers and 
customers will choose to communicate electronically. We stated that if 
we assume that 50 percent of respondents would continue to provide 
documents and obtain signatures in tangible form, and 50 percent would 
choose to communicate electronically in satisfaction of the 
requirements of Rule 15g-9, the total aggregate hour burden would be 
25,896 burden hours ((26,208 aggregate burden hours for documents and 
signatures in tangible form x 0.50 of the respondents = 13,104 hours) + 
(25,584 aggregate burden hours for electronically signed and 
transmitted documents x 0.50 of the respondents = 12,792 hours)). We 
received no comments regarding these estimates and are, therefore, 
utilizing them to calculate the hour burden associated with Rule 15g-9.
iii. Aggregate Burden Hours for the Rule Amendments
    When we proposed these rule amendments, we concluded that the 
burden hours required for compliance with Rule 15g-2, in light of the 
potential use of electronic communications, would be an estimated 7,176 
burden hours. We also concluded that the burden hours required for 
compliance with Rule 15g-9, in light of the option of using electronic 
means of communications, would be an estimated 25,896 hours. Thus, 
under the amendments as they were proposed, the total aggregate burden 
hours for complying with the requirements of Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, in 
light of the available means of communication, would be 33,072 hours 
(7,176 hours + 25,896 hours). We received no comments regarding these 
estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing them in calculating the hour 
burdens associated Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, as amended.
b. Estimate of Total Annualized Paperwork Cost Burden
i. Cost Burden of Rule 15g-2
    Assuming that all communications required by Rule 15g-2 are 
complied with in tangible form, the paperwork costs of the signature 
and document requirements of Rule 15g-2 would include the costs of 
mailing the Schedule 15G penny stock disclosure document to the 
customer and providing a means by which to return the signed document 
(such as by return postage pre-paid envelopes). Postage costs (at $0.37 
each way or $0.74 for both the outgoing and prepaid incoming documents) 
related to providing the Schedule 15G penny stock disclosure document 
and receiving the signed copy from the customer, as required by the 
rule, would be approximately $27,706 (240 respondents x 156 new 
customers annually x $0.74 for each document). We estimated that the 
broker-dealer time required to send the document to a customer would be 
an average compensation rate of $24.10 per hour.\121\ A broker-dealer's 
copying, sending, and recordkeeping hour burden under the rule, as 
noted above, is four minutes (1/15th of an hour). Broker-dealer time 
would therefore cost approximately $1.61 for each Schedule 15G provided 
to its customer under the rule. We concluded that the total paperwork 
cost burden for broker-dealer time to comply with Rule 15g-2 would be 
approximately $60,278 (240 respondents x 156 new customers annually x 
$1.61 for each document). Thus, if the mail was used for all such 
documents, we estimated that the total paperwork annual cost burden to 
the industry to comply with Rule 15g-2 would be approximately $87,984 
($27,706 for postage + $60,278 for staff time). These estimates 
elicited no comments and we are, therefore, utilizing them in 
calculating the cost burden of Rule 15g-2, as amended.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \121\ We based our estimate on the following information. A 
compliance clerk working in New York makes $26.33 an hour. A 
compliance clerk working outside New York makes $21.88 an hour. The 
average hourly salary of these two positions is $24.10 an hour. See 
Report on Office Salaries in the Securities Industry 2002, published 
by the Securities Industry Association. See Exchange Act Rel. No. 
49037, 69 FR at 2546 n. 114. We used the same rate to estimate 
recordkeeping staff costs for compliance with Rule 15g-9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When we proposed the amendments, we recognized that the electronic 
communication of the Schedule 15G penny stock disclosure document would 
reduce the costs of compliance with Rule 15g-2. There would be no 
postage costs for electronically transmitted documents, and broker-
dealer time for

[[Page 40627]]

e-mailing the disclosure document to the customer may be reduced (e.g., 
the broker-dealer respondent may take only one minute, instead of the 
estimated burden of two minutes, to provide the penny stock disclosure 
document by e-mail to its customer). Recordkeeping costs would likely 
remain the same. We stated that if all of the respondents estimated 
above send the Schedule 15G penny stock disclosure document 
electronically, the total ongoing burden on broker-dealers would 
decrease from four minutes to three minutes per document disseminated, 
for an aggregate total of 112,320 minutes (240 respondents x 156 
responses x 3 minutes for each response) or 1,872 hours. We determined 
that, at a broker-dealer time rate of $24.10 per hour, total staff 
costs for compliance with the rule if all communication is electronic 
would be $45,115 (1,872 hours x $24.10/hour). Thus, we concluded that 
if all broker-dealer respondents would obtain and send the documents 
required under the rules electronically, the total annual paperwork 
cost burden to the industry to comply with Rule 15g-2 would be 
approximately $45,115 ($0.00 postage + $45,115 staff time). We received 
no comments regarding these estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing 
them in calculating the cost burden of Rule 15g-2, as amended.
    We stated that the broker-dealer respondent would incur additional 
postage costs under the proposed amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 
when its customer requested a paper copy of the information found on 
the Commission's Web site regarding microcap securities, including 
penny stocks. As discussed above, we concluded that such a request 
would be made, at most, in only a quarter of first-time penny stock 
transactions. Because there will be no return postage, each such 
request would result in a postage cost to the broker-dealer of $0.37. 
Thus, we determined that the aggregate annual postage cost for mailing 
documents containing the additional information will be $3,463 (240 
respondents x 39 new customers annually x $0.37). We received no 
comments regarding this estimate. We are, therefore, utilizing it to 
calculate the cost burden associated with Rule 15g-2, as amended.
    In proposing the rule amendments, we acknowledged that we could not 
estimate how many broker-dealers and customers would choose to 
communicate electronically. We stated that if we assumed that 50 
percent of broker-dealer respondents would continue to provide 
documents and obtain signatures in tangible form, and 50 percent of the 
customer respondents would choose to communicate electronically in 
satisfaction of the requirements of the rule, the total aggregate cost 
burden to the industry to comply with amended Rule 15g-2 would be 
approximately $70,013 (($87,984 aggregate cost for documents and 
signatures in tangible form under the current rule x 0.50 of the 
respondents = $43,992) + ($45,115 aggregate cost burden for 
electronically signed and transmitted documents x 0.50 of the 
respondents = $22,558) + ($3,463 in postage for customers requesting 
tangible copies of the additional information on microcap and penny 
stocks on the Commission's Web site)). We received no comments 
regarding the estimated cost burden of Rule 15g-2. We are, therefore, 
utilizing it in calculating the cost burden of Rule 15g-2, as amended.
ii. Cost Burden of Rule 15g-9
    In proposing the amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, we stated 
that we believe, generally, that a registered representative of a 
registered broker-dealer obtains the information required by current 
Rule 15g-9 and makes the suitability determination. The branch 
operations manger of the firm and the compliance officer reviews the 
information before it is mailed to a customer. The Commission estimated 
that the average blended cost to the broker-dealer respondent for these 
personnel is $75 per hour,\122\ and the total annualized cost for 
compliance with this portion of the current rule is $1,404,000 (18,720 
hours x $75 per hour personnel costs). We received no comments 
regarding these estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing them when 
calculating the cost burden of Rule 15g-9, as amended.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \122\ Branch Operations Managers in New York City make $99.60 an 
hour, including overhead. Compliance managers working in New York 
City make $111.75 an hour, including overhead. A senior branch 
operations supervisor outside of New York City makes $37.05 an hour, 
including overhead. While a compliance manager outside New York City 
makes $52/hour, including overhead. Hence, the blended rate of these 
four positions is approximately $75 an hour. See Report On 
Management & Professional Earnings In The Securities Industry 2002. 
See also Exchange Act Rel No. 49037, 69 FR at 2546 n. 115.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to the costs of preparing the suitability determination 
under the rule, broker-dealer respondents also incur the cost 
associated with delivering the suitability statement to its customers, 
and of receiving both the signed acknowledgement, as well as the 
transaction agreement required by the rule (such as by return postage 
pre-paid envelopes). Postage costs (at $0.37 for each or $0.74 for both 
the outgoing and prepaid incoming documents) related to providing the 
suitability statement and receiving the signed copy from the customer 
and the transaction agreement is approximately $27,706 (240 respondents 
x 156 new customers annually x $0.74 for each document). We received no 
comments regarding these estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing them 
in calculating the final cost burden of Rule 15g-9, as amended.
    In addition, we estimated that broker-dealer respondents would 
incur a recordkeeping burden under current Rule 15g-9 of approximately 
two minutes per response. As noted above, the aggregate recordkeeping 
burden for compliance with Rule 15g-9 is 1,248 hours. Using a $24.10 
per hour average for recordkeeping staff time, the aggregate annual 
recordkeeping broker-dealer burden associated with Rule 15g-9 is 
$30,077 (1,248 hours x $24.10 per hour staff costs). Thus, if only 
communications in tangible form are used, the total aggregate annual 
cost burden to broker-dealer respondent under Rule 15g-9 is 
approximately $1,461,783 ($1,404,000 staff costs to prepare and send 
the suitability statement and the transaction agreement + $27,706 
postage + $30,077 record keeping personnel costs). We received no 
comments regarding these estimates. We are, therefore, utilizing them 
in our calculation of the final cost burden of Rule 15g-9, as amended.
    In the proposing release, we acknowledged that the cost burden 
under Rule 15g-9 may be reduced when the suitability statement and 
transaction agreement required under the rule are communicated between 
the broker-dealer and the customer through electronic means. If each of 
the customer respondents estimated above communicates with his or her 
broker-dealer electronically, the costs of postage for delivery of the 
required documents would be $0.00. We stated that we did not believe 
that the personnel cost burden on broker-dealer respondents and their 
personnel in obtaining, reviewing, and processing the suitability 
determination would change through use of electronic communications. In 
addition, we stated that we did not believe that, based on the 
information available, recordkeeping burdens under Rule 15g-9 would 
change if the required documents were sent or received through means of 
electronic communication. Thus, we concluded that if all broker-dealer 
respondents were to obtain and send the documents required under Rule 
15g-9 electronically, the aggregate annual cost burden associated with 
Rule 15g-9 would be approximately $1,434,077

[[Page 40628]]

($14,040,000 staff costs relating to the suitability statement and 
agreement + $0.00 postage costs + $30,077 record keeping personnel 
costs). We received no comments regarding these estimates. We are, 
therefore, utilizing them in our calculation of the cost burden of Rule 
15g-9, as amended.
    We acknowledged that we cannot estimate how many broker-dealers and 
customers would choose to communicate electronically. We stated that if 
we assume that 50 percent of respondents would continue to provide 
documents and obtain signatures in tangible form, and 50 percent would 
choose to communicate electronically in satisfaction of the 
requirements of Rule 15g-9, the total aggregate paperwork cost burden 
to the industry to comply with amended Rule 15g-9 would be 
approximately $1,447,930 (($1,461,783 aggregate cost burden for 
documents and signatures in tangible form x 0.50 of the respondents = 
$730,891) + ($1,434,077 aggregate cost burden for electronically signed 
and transmitted documents x 0.50 of the respondents = $717,039)). We 
received no comments regarding the estimated cost burden of Rule 15g-9. 
We are therefore utilizing this estimate in our final calculation of 
the cost burden associated with Rule 15g-9, as amended.
iii. Aggregate Cost Burden for the Rule Amendments
    When we proposed the amendments, we stated that the annual 
paperwork cost burden required for compliance with amended Rule 15g-2, 
in light of the available means of communication, would be an estimated 
$70,013. We also stated that the annual cost burden required for 
compliance with amended Rule 15g-9, in light of the available means of 
communication, would be an estimated $1,447,930. Thus, we concluded 
that the estimated total aggregate cost burden for complying with the 
proposed amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, in light of the available 
means of communication, would be $1,517,943 ($70,013 for Rule 15g-2 + 
$1,447,930 for Rule 15g-9). We received no comments regarding these 
estimates.
    We noted at that time that the amendments may not significantly 
alter the current burden on broker-dealers engaged in penny stock 
transactions because broker-dealers must provide the required documents 
to their customers and obtain from their customers the requisite 
documents and signatures, regardless of whether they communicate with 
their customers electronically or by more traditional means.
    We also noted that, for purposes of the PRA, the annual reporting 
and recordkeeping cost burden must exclude the cost of hour 
burden.\123\ Therefore, we determined that the reported annual cost 
burden required for compliance with amended Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 would 
include only the postage costs detailed above, and would exclude costs 
for broker-dealer staff. We again assumed that 50 percent of 
respondents would use electronic means to comply with the amended rule, 
and 50 percent of respondents would use traditional means of 
communication. Hence, we determined that the estimated cost burden for 
compliance with amended Rule 15g-2 would be approximately $17,316 
(($27,706 for postage x .50 of the respondents) + ($3,463 for postage 
for those customers requesting a tangible copy of the information on 
the Commission's Web site regarding microcap securities, including 
penny stocks)), and the estimated cost burden for compliance with 
amended Rule 15g-9 would also be estimated at $13,853 ($27,706 for 
postage x .50 of respondents). Although we solicited comments, we 
received no response from commenters regarding these estimates. We are, 
therefore, utilizing them in calculating the aggregate paperwork cost 
burden for amended Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \123\ See OMB Form 83-1, Instructions to Item 14.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

iv. General Information About the Collection of Information
    We pointed out in the proposing release that any collection of 
information pursuant to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 is mandatory. We also 
stated that for all non-exempt transactions in penny stocks, broker-
dealers must provide the Schedule 15G penny stock disclosure document 
required under Rule 15g-2, and the suitability determination required 
under Rule 15g-9 to their customers. Broker-dealers must maintain a 
copy of the customer's acknowledgement for at least three years 
following the date on which the penny stock disclosure document and the 
suitability determination were provided to the customer. During the 
first two years of this period, these documents must be maintained in 
an easily accessible place.\124\ The information collected and 
maintained by broker-dealers pursuant to the proposed rule amendments 
may be reviewed during the course of an examination by the Commission 
or the SROs for compliance with the provisions of the federal 
securities laws and applicable SRO rules. The Commission and SROs would 
obtain possession of the information only upon request.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \124\ See Rule 15g-2(b) and Rule 17a-4 [17 CFR 240.17a-4].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

VII. Costs and Benefits of Rule Amendments

    We solicited comments relating to the costs and benefits associated 
with the proposed rule amendments. We explicitly requested that 
commenters provide supporting empirical data for any positions 
advanced. We particularly sought comment on whether, and to what 
extent, the rule amendments would impose costs in addition to those 
already imposed under the current rules.
    Only one commenter directly addressed the costs and benefits of 
these rule amendments,\125\ stating that he believed costs associated 
with the rule amendments would be minimal. Another commenter complained 
about the costs of the two-day waiting period imposed by the proposed 
amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9.\126\ We discuss these comments 
below in section B.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \125\ See Stoecklein letter, supra at n. 40 (``As we understand 
your proposals and the cost analysis, we believe that the costs 
associated with the proposed amendments would be minimal. In 
addition, the electronic transmission and storage of the information 
would minimize the burden further. We are assuming that the 
maintenance of these documents could, and most likely would occur, 
electronically.'').
    \126\ See Beloyan letter, supra at n. 69.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission is sensitive to the costs and benefits that result 
from its rules. We have identified certain costs and benefits 
associated with the rule amendments.

A. Rule 3a51-1

    In proposing the amendments to Rule 3a51-1, we stated that the 
costs of the proposed amendments should be minimal. As noted above, the 
only comment we received on this issue supported this view. We believe 
that the amendments will have only a limited impact on the penny stock 
market. For example, the amendments to the current exclusions from the 
definition of penny stock for reported securities, and for certain 
other exchange-registered securities, require that these securities 
also satisfy one of the following new standards. First, an exchange-
registered security could qualify for an exclusion if the exchange on 
which it is registered has been continuously registered since the 
Commission initially adopted the penny stock rules, and if the exchange 
has maintained and continues to maintain quantitative listing standards 
substantially similar to those in place on January 8, 2004. Second, an 
exchange-registered security or a reported security

[[Page 40629]]

listed on an automated quotation system sponsored by a registered 
national securities association such as Nasdaq could qualify for an 
exclusion if the exchange or the automated quotation system on which it 
is registered or listed has quantitative listing standards that meet or 
exceed standards modeled on those currently required for inclusion on 
the Nasdaq SmallCap Market. As we noted in proposing these amendments, 
they are wholly prospective and are not intended to change the status 
quo. Securities currently listed and traded on national securities 
exchanges and on Nasdaq would be ``grandfathered.'' Moreover, we noted 
that all national securities exchanges have initial listing and 
continued listing standards,\127\ which have been reviewed and approved 
by the Commission.\128\ Any cost associated with the new rule 
amendments should be fairly minimal because the listing standards in 
the amendments have been patterned after those currently used by the 
Nasdaq SmallCap Market. Thus, all securities now traded on Nasdaq, both 
National Market System securities and Nasdaq SmallCap securities, 
should meet the new listing standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \127\ See, e.g., NASD Rule 4310.
    \128\ Section 19(b)(1) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. 
78s(b)(1)].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, we noted that the amendments will benefit both the 
securities markets and the investing public. Investors will benefit 
because the revised definition of penny stock will better ensure that 
they receive the extra protection of the penny stock rules when needed. 
We stated that the amendments to the rule will prevent securities that 
have all the risky characteristics of penny stocks from being excluded 
from the definition of penny stock. We acknowledged, however, that 
these benefits are difficult to quantify.
    We also noted that the amendments will reduce duplicative 
regulation with respect to security futures products and will also 
enhance legal certainty by deleting outdated and possibly confusing 
sections of the rule. We concluded that given the incremental change to 
the costs associated with the rule, the benefits of the amendments to 
Rule 3a51-1 will justify the costs. We received no comment or 
information that has caused us to alter this conclusion.

B. Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9

    In proposing the amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, we stated 
that we did not expect to impose any new regulatory costs on broker-
dealers. One commenter disagreed, expressing concern that imposing a 
uniform two-day waiting period on those broker-dealers making markets 
in penny stocks, and soliciting unsophisticated investors to engage in 
penny stock transactions, impose a cost on full service broker-
dealers.\129\ In contrast, another commenter supported our analysis 
regarding the costs of these amendments, stating that the electronic 
transmission and storage of the documents required by these rules would 
reduce the costs of complying with them.\130\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \129\ See Beloyan letter, supra at n. 69 (``As a full service 
broker/dealer we have to compete with the internet discount broker 
dealers, which most investors have. If I recommend something to my 
client, then get an order and have to wait 2 days, it is not 
feasible as it first of all is not giving the client a best 
execution. I can see it now, you call a client to buy something that 
is defined as a penny stock and get an order for $5000.00 and then 
tell the client he has to wait 2 business days before you can buy it 
for him, and the stock goes up to where his $5000.00 would be worth 
$7,000.00 to $10,000.00 and now the client is upset and never does 
business with you again, or he goes to his internet account and uses 
your idea to buy the stock as an unsolicited order and gets 
immediate execution. This takes away a full service broker dealer 
right [sic] to recommend and find small companies that could prove 
very lucrative as an investment. In addition the client could even 
start a lawsuit/arbitration against the broker/dealer.'').
    \130\ See Stoecklein letter, supra at n. 40.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We disagree that the imposition of a uniform, two-day waiting 
period will impose additional costs on broker-dealers. The amendments 
merely impose an explicit, rather than implicit, waiting period on 
broker-dealers prior to their effecting a penny stock transaction for a 
customer after receipt of a signed acknowledgement of a penny stock 
disclosure document, or suitability statement or agreement for a penny 
stock transaction. Because this uniform waiting period simply preserves 
the status quo by replicating the time it would take for postal 
delivery of the documents required by Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9, we do not 
believe that the rule amendments would produce any significant new 
costs to broker-dealers.
    This commenter also points out that there may be lost opportunity 
costs due to the imposition of an explicit two-business-day waiting 
period for transactions recommended by a market-making penny stock 
broker-dealer that communicates electronically with its customers. We 
believe, however, that the effect of the waiting periods set forth 
above on investors would be minimal in light of the fact that the scope 
of the rules is quite narrow. As noted above, the application of the 
requirements in Rule 15g-2 and 15g-9 is limited to broker-dealers that 
actively solicit transactions in penny stocks. For example, only those 
transactions recommended by a market-making broker-dealer in penny 
stocks are subject to the rules. In addition, the requirements of Rule 
15g-9 do not apply to recommended transactions with ``established 
customers'' as defined in the rule. On the other hand, providing and 
receiving the required customer protection documents under the rules 
through electronic means may save those penny stock broker-dealers 
subject to the rules the out-of-pocket costs of postage or other 
delivery methods.
    We also observed that failure to adopt rule amendments that address 
electronic communications could ultimately foster an increase in high-
pressure sales tactics by some penny stock dealers through electronic 
means, leading to potential investor losses. If the market for penny 
stocks once again becomes characterized by abusive and fraudulent sales 
practices, investment in the stocks of legitimate penny stock issuers 
could diminish. Any costs associated with the amendments to the Rules 
15g-2 and 15g-9 are justified by the benefits of reducing fraud.\131\ 
In light of the fact that the only comment we received on this issue 
supports the analysis set forth in the proposing release, our analysis 
remains unchanged.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \131\ When it adopted Rule 15g-9, the Commission stated, ``[W]e 
continue to believe that any additional costs imposed by the Rule 
are outweighed by the benefits of reducing fraud through more 
effective regulation of the sales practices of broker-dealers active 
in the market for penny stocks.'' Exchange Act Rel. No. 27160, 54 FR 
at 35480-81.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Rule 15g-100

    In proposing the amendments to Rule 15g-100, we stated the costs of 
the proposed amendments should be minimal. The changes will have only a 
limited impact on those broker-dealers making markets in penny stocks 
because of the narrow circumstances in which the penny stock disclosure 
document is required. The revisions to this document will not affect 
the frequency with which it is sent to customers. In addition, these 
changes should help reduce fraud by making the document more accessible 
and understandable to investors.
    We requested comment on the costs and benefits of these changes to 
the penny stock disclosure document and the instructions to it set 
forth in Schedule 15G. We received no comments regarding the costs and/
or benefits of these amendments.

[[Page 40630]]

VIII. Consideration of Burden on Promotion of Efficiency, Competition, 
and Capital Formation

    We solicited comments on the effect of the proposed amendments on 
competition, efficiency, and capital formation. For purposes of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996,\132\ the 
Commission also requested information regarding the potential effect of 
the proposals on the U.S. economy on an annual basis. Commenters were 
invited to provide empirical data to support their views.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \132\ Pub. L. 104-21, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We received two comments regarding these issues.\133\ One commenter 
concurred with our analysis that the amendments will promote 
efficiency, competition, and capital formation by providing general 
protections for investors and by increasing investor confidence and 
involvement in the securities of small businesses.\134\ One market 
commented that the proposed amendments to Rule 3a51-1 would ``thwart'' 
the stated goals of Congress and the Commission to foster competition 
since some markets would have a built-in advantage memorialized in 
Commission regulation.\135\ Another commenter indicated that the 
proposed amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 would burden full-service 
broker-dealers in competing with Internet broker-dealers.\136\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \133\ See Stoecklein letter, supra at n. 40.
    \134\ Id. (``In conclusion, we concur with the staff's opinion 
that the proposed amendments are consistent with the public interest 
and would promote efficiency, competition and capital formation by 
providing greater protections for investors, thus increasing 
investor confidence and involvement in the securities of small 
businesses.'').
    \135\ See Nasdaq letter, supra at n. 16.
    \136\ See Beloyan letter, supra at n. 69.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 3(f) of the Exchange Act requires the Commission, when 
engaging in rulemaking, to consider or determine whether an action is 
necessary or appropriate in the public interest, and whether the action 
would promote efficiency, competition and capital formation.\137\ 
Section 23(a)(2) of the Exchange Act requires the Commission to 
consider the anticompetitive effects of any rules that we adopt under 
the Exchange Act.\138\ Section 23(a)(2) further prohibits the 
Commission from adopting any rules that would impose a burden on 
competition not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes 
of the Exchange Act. We believe that the amendments to Rules 3a51-1, 
15g-2 and 15g-9, and 15g-100 are consistent with the public interest 
and will promote efficiency, competition, and capital formation by 
providing greater protections for investors, thus increasing investor 
confidence and investment in the securities of small businesses.\139\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \137\ 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).
    \138\ 15 U.S.C. 78w(a)(2).
    \139\ See Exchange Act Rel. No. 30608, 57 FR at 18007 (``[T]he 
Commission also recognizes that fraudulent sales practices, which 
have occurred disproportionately in this market, may themselves 
hinder economic growth, because they cause the loss of the 
productive use of investor funds, and discourage further investment 
by those who have been defrauded. Legitimate small business is thus 
harmed by the diversion of substantial capital to unscrupulous 
promoters and broker-dealers. Moreover, the issuers of penny stocks 
that are fraudulently traded may themselves be victimized by this 
activity.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We do not believe that the amendments that the Commission is 
adopting to Rules 3a51-1, 15g-2, 15g-9, and 15g-100 will result in any 
burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in 
furtherance of the purposes of the Exchange Act. We disagree that the 
amendments to Rule 3a51-1 could harm competition between markets. We 
continue to view these amendments as essentially neutral. They should 
preserve--not change--the status quo with respect to the registered 
national securities exchanges and Nasdaq. The amendments are not 
designed to change the listing standards of Nasdaq and 
``grandfathered'' exchanges, and should not encourage or facilitate 
regulatory arbitrage.
    While the amendments conceivably could impose some competitive 
burdens on wholly new markets, wholly new facilities or ``junior 
tiers'' of markets, such potential competitive burdens are more than 
outweighed by the benefits of the proposed amendments. Amendments to 
Rule 3a51-1 would prevent those securities that have all the risky 
characteristics of penny stocks from being excluded from the definition 
of penny stock. As a result, investors buying and purchasing these 
securities will continue to receive the increased protection that 
Congress intended they receive under the Penny Stock Reform Act. In 
addition, the amendments to Rule 3a51-1 will promote capital formation 
by encouraging investment because of increased investor confidence and 
will apply equally to all broker-dealers making markets in penny 
stocks.
    The other changes to Rule 3a51-1 will encourage efficiency by 
updating the definition of penny stock. For example, Rule 3a51-1 will 
exclude security futures products from this definition.
    With regard to the amendment to Rules 15g-2 and 15-9, we do not 
believe that the explicit waiting periods imposed under these 
amendments will increase the existing burdens under the penny stock 
rules. Indeed, with respect to communications sent through the mail, 
the rules already effectively impose a similar waiting period. As 
discussed above, prospective investors in penny stocks should have the 
opportunity to carefully consider, outside of a high-pressure 
environment, whether an investment in penny stocks is appropriate for 
them. The amendments will ensure that all investors in penny stocks, 
whether they communicate through traditional means or electronically, 
will retain the opportunity for careful consideration.
    We do not believe that the amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 will 
adversely affect capital formation. One commenter indicated that the 
amendments may hinder capital formation.\140\ However, as the 
Commission stated when it first adopted the penny stock rules and when 
it proposed the amendments, without these rules, sales practice abuses 
in the market may lead investors to bypass the penny stock market in 
favor of other types of securities. By operating to curb sales practice 
abuses in the markets for penny stocks, the rule amendments will 
continue to benefit legitimate penny stock issuers and the broker-
dealers making markets in those issuers' securities. Moreover, because 
these rule amendments will only apply to broker-dealers soliciting 
customers for recommended transactions in penny stocks in which they 
make a market (along with the other exceptions to the rules), any 
potential adverse effect on efficiency, competition, or capital 
formation will be limited.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \140\ See Beloyan letter, supra at n. 69 (``How can venture 
capital and new ideas with small public companies exist and grow 
with more restrictions? Doesn't putting more government into what is 
already here, which by the way seems to be working fine, 
significantly curbed [sic] growth in our economy?'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Similarly, we do not believe that the waiting period that would be 
imposed by the proposed amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 15g-9 will result 
in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in 
furtherance of the purposes of the Exchange Act. As noted above, one 
commenter asserted that the proposed amendments to these rules would 
harm competition between full service broker-dealers and Internet-based 
broker-dealers.\141\ We disagree. The amendments to Rules 15g-2 and 
15g-9 merely impose an explicit, rather than implicit, waiting period 
on broker-dealers prior to their effecting a penny stock transaction 
for a customer after

[[Page 40631]]

receipt of a signed acknowledgement of a penny stock disclosure 
document, or suitability statement or agreement for a penny stock 
transaction. Because this uniform waiting period simply preserves the 
status quo by replicating the time it would take for postal delivery of 
the required disclosure documents, we do not believe that the rule 
amendments will impose any additional competitive burdens on penny 
stock brokers and dealers. We believe the amendments will instead 
promote competition by redesigning this necessary regulatory scheme to 
permit broker-dealers and investors to take advantage of rapidly 
evolving technology.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \141\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Finally, we believe that the changes we are proposing to the penny 
stock disclosure document, as set forth in Schedule 15G, will not 
impose any burden on competition. On the contrary, by streamlining the 
document, making it more readable, and generally adapting it to 
electronic media, the penny stock disclosure document will promote 
efficiency, competition, and capital formation.

IX. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    The Commission has certified, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that the 
amendments to Rules 3a51-1, 15g-2 and 15g-9, and 15g-100 will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. This certification was incorporated into the release 
proposing these amendments. The Commission received no comments about 
the impact on small entities or the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
certification.

X. Statutory Authority

    The Commission is adopting amendments to Sec. Sec.  240.3a51-1, 
240.15g-2, 240.15g-9 and 240.15g-100 of Title 17, Chapter II of the 
Code of Federal Regulations pursuant to authority set forth in Sections 
3(a)(51)(B), 3(b), 15(c), 15(g) and 23(a) of the Exchange Act [15 
U.S.C. 78c(a)(51)(B), 78c(b), 78o(c), 78o(g), and 78w(a)].

Text of Rule Amendments

List of Subjects in 17 CFR Part 240

    Broker-dealers, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Securities.


0
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, Title 17, Chapter II of the 
Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

PART 240--GENERAL RULES AND REGULATIONS, SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 
1934

0
1. The authority citation for part 240 continues to read, in part, as 
follows:

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 77c, 77d, 77g, 77j, 77s, 77z-2, 77z-3, 
77eee, 77ggg, 77nnn, 77sss, 77ttt, 78c, 78d, 78e, 78f, 78g, 78i, 
78j, 78j-1, 78k, 78k-1, 78l, 78m, 78n, 78o, 78p, 78q, 78s, 78u-5, 
78w, 78x, 78ll, 78mm, 79q, 79t, 80a-20, 80a-23, 80a-29, 80a-37, 80b-
3, 80b-4, 80b-11, and 7201 et seq.; and 18 U.S.C. 1350, unless 
otherwise noted.
* * * * *

0
2. Section 240.3a51-1 is amended by revising paragraphs (a), (e) and 
(f) to read as follows:


Sec.  240.3a51-1  Definition of ``penny stock''.

* * * * *
    (a) That is a reported security, as defined in Sec.  240.11Aa3-
1(a), provided that:
    (1) The security is registered, or approved for registration upon 
notice of issuance, on a national securities exchange that has been 
continuously registered as a national securities exchange since April 
20, 1992 (the date of the adoption of Rule 3a51-1 (Sec.  240.3a51-1) by 
the Commission); and the national securities exchange has maintained 
quantitative listing standards that are substantially similar to or 
stricter than those listing standards that were in place on that 
exchange on January 8, 2004; or
    (2) The security is registered, or approved for registration upon 
notice of issuance, on a national securities exchange, or is listed, or 
approved for listing upon notice of issuance on, an automated quotation 
system sponsored by a registered national securities association, that:
    (i) Has established initial listing standards that meet or exceed 
the following criteria:
    (A) The issuer shall have:
    (1) Stockholders' equity of $5,000,000;
    (2) Market value of listed securities of $50 million for 90 
consecutive days prior to applying for the listing (market value means 
the closing bid price multiplied by the number of securities listed); 
or
    (3) Net income of $750,000 (excluding extraordinary or non-
recurring items) in the most recently completed fiscal year or in two 
of the last three most recently completed fiscal years;
    (B) The issuer shall have an operating history of at least one year 
or a market value of listed securities of $50 million (market value 
means the closing bid price multiplied by the number of securities 
listed);
    (C) The issuer's stock, common or preferred, shall have a minimum 
bid price of $4 per share;
    (D) In the case of common stock, there shall be at least 300 round 
lot holders of the security (a round lot holder means a holder of a 
normal unit of trading);
    (E) In the case of common stock, there shall be at least 1,000,000 
publicly held shares and such shares shall have a market value of at 
least $5 million (market value means the closing bid price multiplied 
by number of publicly held shares, and shares held directly or 
indirectly by an officer or director of the issuer and by any person 
who is the beneficial owner of more than 10 percent of the total shares 
outstanding are not considered to be publicly held);
    (F) In the case of a convertible debt security, there shall be a 
principal amount outstanding of at least $10 million;
    (G) In the case of rights and warrants, there shall be at least 
100,000 issued and the underlying security shall be registered on a 
national securities exchange or listed on an automated quotation system 
sponsored by a registered national securities association and shall 
satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a) or (e) of this section;
    (H) In the case of put warrants (that is, instruments that grant 
the holder the right to sell to the issuing company a specified number 
of shares of the company's common stock, at a specified price until a 
specified period of time), there shall be at least 100,000 issued and 
the underlying security shall be registered on a national securities 
exchange or listed on an automated quotation system sponsored by a 
registered national securities association and shall satisfy the 
requirements of paragraph (a) or (e) of this section;
    (I) In the case of units (that is, two or more securities traded 
together), all component parts shall be registered on a national 
securities exchange or listed on an automated quotation system 
sponsored by a registered national securities association and shall 
satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a) or (e) of this section; and
    (J) In the case of equity securities (other than common and 
preferred stock, convertible debt securities, rights and warrants, put 
warrants, or units), including hybrid products and derivative 
securities products, the national securities exchange or registered 
national securities association shall establish quantitative listing 
standards that are substantially similar to those found in paragraphs 
(a)(2)(i)(A) through (a)(2)(i)(I) of this section; and

[[Page 40632]]

    (ii) Has established quantitative continued listing standards that 
are reasonably related to the initial listing standards set forth in 
paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, and that are consistent with the 
maintenance of fair and orderly markets;
* * * * *
    (e)(1) That is registered, or approved for registration upon notice 
of issuance, on a national securities exchange that makes transaction 
reports available pursuant to Sec.  240.11Aa3-1, provided that:
    (i) Price and volume information with respect to transactions in 
that security is required to be reported on a current and continuing 
basis and is made available to vendors of market information pursuant 
to the rules of the national securities exchange;
    (ii) The security is purchased or sold in a transaction that is 
effected on or through the facilities of the national securities 
exchange, or that is part of the distribution of the security; and
    (iii) The security satisfies the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) 
or (a)(2) of this section;
    (2) A security that satisfies the requirements of this paragraph 
(e), but does not otherwise satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a), 
(b), (c), (d), (f), or (g) of this section, shall be a penny stock for 
purposes of section 15(b)(6) of the Act (15 U.S.C. 78o(b)(6));
    (f) That is a security futures product listed on a national 
securities exchange or an automated quotation system sponsored by a 
registered national securities association; or
* * * * *

0
3. Section 240.15g-2 is amended by:
0
(a) Revising the section heading;
0
(b) Revising paragraph (a);
0
(c) Redesignating paragraph (b) as paragraph (c);
0
(d) Adding new paragraph (b); and
0
(e) Adding paragraph (d).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  240.15g-2  Penny stock disclosure document relating to the penny 
stock market.

    (a) It shall be unlawful for a broker or dealer to effect a 
transaction in any penny stock for or with the account of a customer 
unless, prior to effecting such transaction, the broker or dealer has 
furnished to the customer a document containing the information set 
forth in Schedule 15G, Sec.  240.15g-100, and has obtained from the 
customer a signed and dated acknowledgment of receipt of the document.
    (b) Regardless of the form of acknowledgment used to satisfy the 
requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, it shall be unlawful for 
a broker or dealer to effect a transaction in any penny stock for or 
with the account of a customer less than two business days after the 
broker or dealer sends such document.
* * * * *
    (d) Upon request of the customer, the broker or dealer shall 
furnish the customer with a copy of the information set forth on the 
Commission's Web site at http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/microcapstock.htm.

0
4. Section 240.15g-9 is amended by revising paragraphs (a)(2)(ii) and 
(b)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  240.15g-9  Sales practice requirements for certain low-priced 
securities.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii)(A) The broker or dealer has received from the person an 
agreement to the transaction setting forth the identity and quantity of 
the penny stock to be purchased; and
    (B) Regardless of the form of agreement used to satisfy the 
requirements of paragraph (a)(2)(ii)(A) of this section, it shall be 
unlawful for such broker or dealer to sell a penny stock to, or to 
effect the purchase of a penny stock by, for or with the account of a 
customer less than two business days after the broker or dealer sends 
such agreement.
    (b) * * *
    (4)(i) Obtain from the person a signed and dated copy of the 
statement required by paragraph (b)(3) of this section; and
    (ii) Regardless of the form of statement used to satisfy the 
requirements of paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section, it shall be 
unlawful for such broker or dealer to sell a penny stock to, or to 
effect the purchase of a penny stock by, for or with the account of a 
customer less than two business days after the broker or dealer sends 
such statement.
* * * * *

0
5. Section 240.15g-100 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  240.15g-100  Schedule 15G--Information to be included in the 
document distributed pursuant to 17 CFR 240.15g-2.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20549

SCHEDULE 15G

Under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
Instructions to Schedule 15G
    A. Schedule 15G (Schedule) may be provided to customers in its 
entirety either on paper or electronically. It may also be provided to 
customers electronically through a link to the SEC's Web site.
    1. If the Schedule is sent in paper form, the format and typeface 
of the Schedule must be reproduced exactly as presented. For example, 
words that are capitalized must remain capitalized, and words that are 
underlined or bold must remain underlined or bold. The typeface must be 
clear and easy to read. The Schedule may be reproduced either by 
photocopy or by printing.
    2. If the Schedule is sent electronically, the e-mail containing 
the Schedule must have as a subject line ``Important Information on 
Penny Stocks.'' The Schedule reproduced in the text of the e-mail must 
be clear, easy-to-read type presented in a manner reasonably calculated 
to draw the customer's attention to the language in the document, 
especially words that are capitalized, underlined or in bold.
    3. If the Schedule is sent electronically using a hyperlink to the 
SEC Web site, the e-mail containing the hyperlink must have as a 
subject line: ``Important Information on Penny Stocks.'' Immediately 
before the hyperlink, the text of the e-mail must reproduce the 
following statement in clear, easy-to-read type presented in a manner 
reasonably calculated to draw the customer's attention to the words: 
``We are required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to 
give you the following disclosure statement: http://www.sec.gov/investor/schedule15g.htm. It explains some of the risks of investing in 
penny stocks. Please read it carefully before you agree to purchase or 
sell a penny stock.''
    B. Regardless of how the Schedule is provided to the customer, the 
communication must also provide the name, address, telephone number and 
e-mail address of the broker. E-mail messages may also include any 
privacy or confidentiality information that the broker routinely 
includes in e-mail messages sent to customers. No other information may 
be included in these

[[Page 40633]]

communications, other than instructions on how to provide a signed and 
dated acknowledgement of receipt of the Schedule.
    C. The document entitled ``Important Information on Penny Stocks'' 
must be distributed as Schedule 15G and must be no more than two pages 
in length if provided in paper form.
    D. The disclosures made through the Schedule are in addition to any 
other disclosures that are required under the Federal securities laws.
    E. Recipients of the document must not be charged any fee for the 
document.
    F. The content of the Schedule is as follows:
     [next page]

Important Information on Penny Stocks

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires your 
broker to give this statement to you, and to obtain your signature to 
show that you have received it, before your first trade in a penny 
stock. This statement contains important information--and you should 
read it carefully before you sign it, and before you decide to purchase 
or sell a penny stock.
    In addition to obtaining your signature, the SEC requires your 
broker to wait at least two business days after sending you this 
statement before executing your first trade to give you time to 
carefully consider your trade.
Penny Stocks Can Be Very Risky
    Penny stocks are low-priced shares of small companies. Penny stocks 
may trade infrequently--which means that it may be difficult to sell 
penny stock shares once you have them. Because it may also be difficult 
to find quotations for penny stocks, they may be impossible to 
accurately price. Investors in penny stock should be prepared for the 
possibility that they may lose their whole investment.
    While penny stocks generally trade over-the-counter, they may also 
trade on U.S. securities exchanges, facilities of U.S. exchanges, or 
foreign exchanges. You should learn about the market in which the penny 
stock trades to determine how much demand there is for this stock and 
how difficult it will be to sell. Be especially careful if your broker 
is offering to sell you newly issued penny stock that has no 
established trading market.
    The securities you are considering have not been approved or 
disapproved by the SEC. Moreover, the SEC has not passed upon the 
fairness or the merits of this transaction nor upon the accuracy or 
adequacy of the information contained in any prospectus or any other 
information provided by an issuer or a broker or dealer.
Information You Should Get
    In addition to this statement, your broker is required to give you 
a statement of your financial situation and investment goals explaining 
why his or her firm has determined that penny stocks are a suitable 
investment for you. In addition, your broker is required to obtain your 
agreement to the proposed penny stock transaction.
    Before you buy penny stock, Federal law requires your salesperson 
to tell you the ``offer'' and the ``bid'' on the stock, and the 
``compensation'' the salesperson and the firm receive for the trade. 
The firm also must send a confirmation of these prices to you after the 
trade. You will need this price information to determine what profit or 
loss, if any, you will have when you sell your stock.
    The offer price is the wholesale price at which the dealer is 
willing to sell stock to other dealers. The bid price is the wholesale 
price at which the dealer is willing to buy the stock from other 
dealers. In its trade with you, the dealer may add a retail charge to 
these wholesale prices as compensation (called a ``markup'' or 
``markdown'').
    The difference between the bid and the offer price is the dealer's 
``spread.'' A spread that is large compared with the purchase price can 
make a resale of a stock very costly. To be profitable when you sell, 
the bid price of your stock must rise above the amount of this spread 
and the compensation charged by both your selling and purchasing 
dealers. Remember that if the dealer has no bid price, you may not be 
able to sell the stock after you buy it, and may lose your whole 
investment.
    After you buy penny stock, your brokerage firm must send you a 
monthly account statement that gives an estimate of the value of each 
penny stock in your account, if there is enough information to make an 
estimate. If the firm has not bought or sold any penny stocks for your 
account for six months, it can provide these statements every three 
months.
    Additional information about low-priced securities--including penny 
stocks--is available on the SEC's Web site at http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/microcapstock.htm. In addition, your broker will send you 
a copy of this information upon request. The SEC encourages you to 
learn all you can before making this investment.
Brokers' Duties and Customers' Rights and Remedies
    Remember that your salesperson is not an impartial advisor--he or 
she is being paid to sell you stock. Do not rely only on the 
salesperson, but seek outside advice before you buy any stock. You can 
get the disciplinary history of a salesperson or firm from NASD at 1-
800-289-9999 or contact NASD via the Internet at http://www.nasd.com. 
You can also get additional information from your state securities 
official. The North American Securities Administrators Association, 
Inc. can give you contact information for your state. You can reach 
NASAA at (202) 737-0900 or via the Internet at http://www.nasaa.org.
    If you have problems with a salesperson, contact the firm's 
compliance officer. You can also contact the securities regulators 
listed above. Finally, if you are a victim of fraud, you may have 
rights and remedies under state and Federal law. In addition to the 
regulators listed above, you also may contact the SEC with complaints 
at (800) SEC-0330 or via the Internet at help@sec.gov.

    Dated: July 7, 2005.

    By the Commission.

J. Lynn Taylor,
Assistant Secretary.
[FR Doc. 05-13737 Filed 7-12-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8010-01-P