September 21, 2017

Non-GAAP: Does Reg G Apply to M&A Projections?

Most public company M&A disclosure documents include a section addressing the forecasts provided to the board and the company’s financial advisors in connection with their evaluation of the transaction.  These forecasts typically include non-GAAP financial information, but Rule 100(d) of Reg G provides an exemption from its requirements that applies to disclosures summarizing “the bases for and methods of arriving at” a fairness opinion.

While these forecasts appear to be well within the scope of the exemption, plaintiffs – and in some cases the Staff – have challenged this assumption in the case of non-GAAP information disclosed under a separate heading (typically captioned “Forecasts” or “Projections”) from the discussion of the banker’s fairness opinion. Some have also called into question the applicability of this exemption to tender offer filings.

This Cleary blog sets forth a detailed argument that these distinctions are inappropriate – and that the reconciliation requirements of Reg G do not apply to this information, regardless of what type of disclosure document it appears in or where it appears. Here’s an excerpt summarizing the argument:

It is true that the projections in the “Forecasts” section of M&A disclosure documents include projections that are not GAAP. Indeed, projected unlevered free cash flows are a central input into any discounted cash flow analysis. But in our view the contention that these projections are subject to Regulation G is incorrect.

The provision of a GAAP reconciliation for these forecasts would not serve the purpose for which Regulation G was adopted – namely, to prevent a company from misleading investors by providing NGFMs that obscure its GAAP results and guidance. No such concern applies to the “Forecasts” section of M&A disclosure documents, where the data are being provided solely to enable shareholders to understand the specific, projected financial metrics that the company’s financial advisor used in its financial analyses to support a fairness opinion.

The blog notes that the Staff has sometimes issued comments to the effect that Reg G applies to these disclosures, and recommends that the Staff issue interpretive guidance confirming that the exemption applies to forecasts included in M&A disclosure documents.

John Jenkins