This came up no less than three times last week, so I figured it was worth a blog post.
Subsidiaries can raise funds under Reg CF, even if they are subsidiaries of companies who cannot use Reg CF themselves, because they have a class of securities registered with the SEC, or they are not US companies. To determine eligibility, you look at the status of the potential issuer. Is it a US company? Have you confirmed it’s not an investment company? If it’s raised funds under Reg CF before, is it in compliance with ongoing reporting requirements?
We need to add another element to this determination: is the US sub genuinely the issuer under Reg CF, or is there a “co-issuer” in the picture? And if there is, is the co-issuer prevented from using Reg CF because it’s an SEC-registered or foreign company?
There’s no useful definition of “co-issuer” under securities law (and if you go looking for one, what you will find will only confuse you) but when faced with the issue, we often ask clients to take a step back and ask themselves: “Whose performance is the investor relying on when they make their investment?” If the funds raised are going to be used at the subsidiary level, and the subsidiary is a genuine operating company, with employees, and a business plan, then everything may be ok, even if some portion of the funds end up at the parent level; for instance, payments for contracted support functions, or as license payments. But if the US sub is being effectively used as a finance sub, has no employees, and the funds are sent upstream to the parent, then you probably have a co-issuer, who is subject to the same eligibility, financial statement, and disclosure requirements as its sub.
It's always going to be a matter of judgement, and as the SEC loves to remind us, dependent on facts and circumstances. It is worth going through the above analysis with your counsel to determine if the subsidiary is eligible to raise funds under Reg CF.