(1) What are equity monetization transactions? There are a variety of sophisticated derivative-based strategies that permit investors to dispose of, in economic terms, an equity position in a public company without attracting certain tax and non-tax consequences associated with a conventional disposition of such position. These strategies, which are sometimes referred to as “equity monetization” strategies, allow an investor to receive a cash amount similar to proceeds of disposition, and transfer part or all of the economic risk and/or return associated with securities of an issuer, without actually transferring ownership of or control over such securities. (The term “monetization” generally refers to the conversion of an asset (such as securities) into cash.)
(2) What are the concerns with equity monetization transactions? Where a reporting insider enters into a monetization transaction, and does not disclose the existence or material terms of that transaction, there is potential for harm to investors and the integrity of the insider reporting regime because
• an insider in possession of material undisclosed information, although prohibited from trading in securities of the issuer, may be able to profit improperly from such information by entering into derivative-based transactions that mimic trades in securities of the reporting issuer;
• market efficiency will be impaired since the market is deprived of important information relating to the market activities of the insider; and
• since the insider’s publicly reported holdings no longer reflect the insider’s true economic position in the issuer, the public reporting of such holdings (e.g., in an insider report or a proxy circular) may in fact materially mislead investors.
If a reporting insider enters into a transaction which satisfies one or more of the policy rationales for insider reporting, but for technical reasons it may be argued that the transaction falls outside of the primary insider reporting requirement in Part 3 of the Instrument, the insider will be required to file an insider report under Part 4 unless an exemption is available. In this way, the market can make its own determination as to the significance, if any, of the transaction in question.