SEC Allows Tweets for Startups Raising Money: Business of Law

When a new company is seeking investors, using 140 characters is just fine with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last week, the agency’s staff, in a ‘‘Compliance and Disclosure Interpretation,’’ said a startup can post a Twitter message about its stock or debt offering to gauge interest among potential investors.

The SEC announcement continues the agency’s trend of warming up to social media, which began two years ago when it approved the use of posts on Facebook and Twitter to communicate corporate announcements such as earnings.

“It’s a brave new world,” said Joe Wallin, a Seattle-based attorney who advises startups at Carney Badley Spellman PS. “The way securities have been distributed and sold has never involved a lot of media.”

The SEC’s latest endorsement of social media applies only to companies looking to raise as much as $50 million a year.

Under new small-business fundraising rules approved in March, companies raising as much as $50 million in capital will be required to make fewer disclosures. The previous threshold was $5 million.

The changes stemmed from the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which deregulated fundraising rules for small businesses.

Firms that use Twitter to feel out investor interest must include a link to a required disclaimer that says the firm isn’t yet selling securities, the SEC said in the announcement.

It’s not clear how many companies will take advantage of the higher fundraising cap. Fewer than 30 offerings were made from 2012 to 2014, when the limit was $5 million, according to the SEC.

The agency said in April 2013 that companies could use Twitter or Facebook to make big announcements as long as investors were told in advance to look there.

Anheuser-Busch Settles Case of German Beer That’s Made in USA

It’s the last round for a class action against Anheuser-Busch InBev NV over its labeling of Beck’s Beer. The brewer was sued in 2013 because the beer’s packaging said it was brewed in Germany, where Beck’s originated, when in fact it’s now being made in the U.S.

On June 23, a federal magistrate in Miami tentatively approved a proposed settlement which would give households that kept receipts as much as $50 back; for those without any proof, the refunds were limited to $12. The total amount that the world’s largest brewer will pay isn’t capped.

The proposed settlement also calls for packaging modifications that will clarify that the beer is produced domestically.

In January, Anheuser-Busch settled a similar suit involving Kirin Beer for those who thought it was still brewed in Japan.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, with a team led by partner Edward Crane, represented Anheuser-Busch. The plaintiffs were represented by several firms, including Miami’s Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton LLP, Campbell Law LLC, Harke Clasby & Bushman LLP and Robert W. Rodriguez PA.

The case is Marty v. Anheuser Busch Companies LLC, 1:13-cv-23656-JJO, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

Hamptons Helicopter Fans Can Fly Often But Must Fly Early

Those hoping to get to New York’s Hamptons without sitting in traffic may be in luck, but they better get there early.

U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert on June 26 barred East Hampton from enforcing noise restrictions that would’ve limited aircraft and helicopter operators to one flight a week, but said curfews can be imposed.

The one-trip limit “is drastic, considering the effect it poses on some of plaintiffs’ businesses, and there is no indication that a less restrictive measure would not also satisfactorily alleviate the airport’s noise problem,” Seybert said.

The ruling at least temporarily clears the skies for helicopters taking passengers to East Hampton’s airport.

Local officials and residents pushed for the one-trip-a-week limit as helicopter traffic rose almost 50 percent in 2014 from the previous year. The increase may have been partly driven by a service called Blade that allows passengers to book rides via a phone app similar to those of car-sharing services.

The case is Friends of the East Hampton Airport Inc. v. Town of East Hampton, 2:15-cv-02246, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).

Comings and Goings

McKenna Long, About to Merge With Dentons, Adds Five Partners

As McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP heads into its pending merger with Dentons, five new partners have joined the firm in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and Atlanta -- including three who previously practiced at McKenna.

Mordecai Boone, who previously practiced at Gordon Rees, is joining the product-liability and complex-tort practice in San Francisco, while Kelvin Wyles, previously a partner at DeHay & Elliston, is rejoining the firm as a partner in the product-liability and complex-tort practice in Los Angeles.

Jeniffer De Jesus Roberts is joining the Washington office with a multidisciplinary practice in government contracts policy and compliance. She was previously senior counsel at Accenture Federal Services.

Kevin Lombardo, previously a partner at Bryan Cave LLP, is rejoining the firm as part of the government contracts group in Los Angeles, with an additional practice focus on international trade regulation.

Finally, Steven Berson, previously a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, is joining the corporate group in Atlanta.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE