Guy Charged With Making IPOs Great Again Not Sure IPOs Are So Great

The SEC's new Corporation Finance chief's a little half-hearted on his boss' going-public crusade.
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Among the many incredible, amazing and beautiful outcomes of the ongoing regulatory bonfire along Pennsylvania Avenue will be the unshackling of the initial public offering market. Companies that are just dying to go public are choking on the reams of paperwork required to sell shares on the open market, and the reams of paperwork required for regular filings thereafter. Luckily, this aspect of the American carnage is coming to an end. Bill Hinman, a Silicon Valley lawyer who brought you such hit IPOs as Google, Facebook and Alibaba—the latter being a collaboration with one Jay Clayton—is coming to Washington to lead the SEC’s Corporation Finance division and a resurgence in going public.

Well, sort of: It seems that Hinman’s not as convinced as some that the IPO drought, such as it is, is the result of stifling regulation.

In an interview, Mr. Hinman said he didn’t believe the decline in the number of public companies could be blamed entirely on regulation. But he said spurring more public offerings is a worthy goal of regulators, because investors benefit from the detailed public disclosures….

“To the extent the SEC can make it more attractive and efficient to raise capital here, we are going to want to do that,” he said. “That is our primary focus and challenge going forward.”

Except, of course, that those public disclosures are precisely what lots of private companies might be seeking to avoid, and which the Trump administration is seeking to gut. But no matter: His old colleague and new boss’ obsession with increasing IPOs doesn’t appear to be rubbing off on Hinman, or finding many takers among the allegedly pre-IPO crowd.

He also expressed interest in expanding the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. The law, passed with bipartisan support, was hailed as the first sign that Washington understood how the internet could be used to help smaller companies raise money without turning to Wall Street….

Some market participants say they don’t see the problem that Mr. Clayton has said he wants to solve. “The real question is do small-growth companies have access to capital, and they do,” said Robin Graham, managing director and head of technology, media and communications at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. “It’s just in the private markets.”

SEC Turns to Big Deals Lawyer to Spur More Public Companies [WSJ]


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