Securities Law & Instruments

Headnote

 

National Policy 11-203 Process For Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions – Application for exemptive relief to permit issuer and underwriter, acting as agent for the issuer, to enter into an equity distribution agreement to make "at the market" (ATM) distributions of common shares over the facilities of the TSX, the NYSE or other marketplaces – ATM distributions to be made pursuant to shelf prospectus procedures in Part 9 of NI 44-102 Shelf Distributions – issuer will issue a press release and file agreements on SEDAR – application for relief from prospectus delivery requirement – delivery of prospectus not practicable in circumstances of an ATM distribution – relief from prospectus delivery requirement has effect of removing two-day right of withdrawal and remedies of rescission or damages for non-delivery of the prospectus – application for relief from certain prospectus form requirements – relief granted to permit modified forward-looking certificate language – relief granted on terms and conditions set out in decision document – decision will terminate 25 months after the issuance of a receipt for the shelf prospectus.

 

Applicable Legislative Provisions

 

Securities Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.5, as am., ss. 71, 147.

 

Applicable Ontario Rules

 

National Instrument 44-101 Short Form Prospectus Distributions, Part 8 and Item 20 of Form 44-101F1.

National Instrument 44-102 Shelf Distributions, ss. 6.3 and 6.7, Part 9 and ss. 2.1 and 2.2 of Appendix A.

National Policy 11-203 Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions.

 

November 30, 2018

 

IN THE MATTER OF

THE SECURITIES LEGISLATION OF

ONTARIO

(THE JURISDICTION)

 

AND

 

IN THE MATTER OF

THE PROCESS FOR EXEMPTIVE RELIEF APPLICATIONS

IN MULTIPLE JURISDICTIONS

 

AND

 

IN THE MATTER OF

FORTIS INC.

(THE ISSUER),

SCOTIA CAPITAL INC.,

TD SECURITIES INC.,

MORGAN STANLEY CANADA LIMITED AND

WELLS FARGO SECURITIES CANADA, LTD.

(COLLECTIVELY, THE CANADIAN AGENTS)

 

AND

 

SCOTIA CAPITAL (USA) INC.,

TD SECURITIES (USA) LLC,

MORGAN STANLEY & CO. LLC AND

WELLS FARGO SECURITIES, LLC

(COLLECTIVELY, THE U.S. AGENTS AND

TOGETHER WITH THE CANADIAN AGENTS, THE AGENTS, AND

TOGETHER WITH THE ISSUER, THE FILERS)

 

DECISION

 


 

Background

 

The Ontario Securities Commission (the Decision Makers), being the principal regulator in the Jurisdiction, has received an application (the Application) from the Filers for a decision under the securities legislation of the Jurisdiction (the Legislation) for the following relief (the Exemptions Sought):

 

(a)           that the requirement that a dealer not acting as agent of the purchaser who receives an order or subscription for a security offered in a distribution to which the prospectus requirement applies deliver to the purchaser the latest prospectus (including the applicable prospectus supplement(s) in the case of a base shelf prospectus) and any amendment to the prospectus (the Prospectus Delivery Requirement) does not apply to the Agents or any other TSX participating organization or other marketplace participant acting as selling agent for the Agents (each, a Selling Agent) in connection with any at-the-market distribution (each, an ATM Distribution and collectively, the ATM Offering), as defined in National Instrument 44-102 – Shelf Distributions (NI 44-102) of common shares (Common Shares) of the Issuer in Canada and the United States (U.S.) pursuant to an equity distribution agreement (the Equity Distribution Agreement) to be entered into between the Issuer and the Agents; and

 

(b)           that the requirements to include in a base shelf prospectus or prospectus supplement or an amendment thereto:

 

(i)            a forward-looking issuer certificate of the Issuer in the form specified in section 2.1 or section 2.4, as applicable, of Appendix A to NI 44-102;

 

(ii)           a forward-looking underwriter certificate in the form specified by section 2.2 or section 2.4, as applicable, of Appendix A to NI 44-102; and

 

(iii)           a statement respecting purchasers’ statutory rights of withdrawal and remedies of rescission or damages in substantially the form prescribed in Item 20 of Form 44-101F1 – Short Form Prospectus;

 

(collectively, the Prospectus Form Requirements) do not apply to the Shelf Prospectus (as defined below), the Prospectus Supplement (as defined below) or an amendment thereto provided that the Issuer include in the Prospectus Supplement or an amendment thereto the form of issuer certificate and form of underwriter certificate and include in the Prospectus Supplement or an amendment thereto the revised description of a purchaser’s statutory rights of withdrawal and remedies for rescission or damages described below, in each case (other than with respect to the underwriter certificate) superseding and replacing the corresponding language in the Shelf Prospectus solely with regards to the ATM Offering.

 

Under the Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions (for a passport application):

 

(a)           the Ontario Securities Commission is the principal regulator for the Application based on the “most significant connection” test articulated under section 3.6(6)(c) of National Policy 11-203 – Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions; and

 

(b)           the Filers have provided notice that section 4.7(1) of Multilateral Instrument 11-102 – Passport System (MI 11-102) is intended to be relied upon in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador (collectively and together with the Jurisdiction, the Reporting Jurisdictions).

 

Interpretation

 

Terms defined in National Instrument 14-101 – Definitions, National Instrument 13-101 – System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR), in MI 11-102 or in NI 44-102 have the same meaning if used in this decision, unless otherwise defined herein. All dollar figures in this decision refer to Canadian dollars.

 

Representations

 

This decision is based on the following facts represented by the Filers.

 

The Issuer

 

1.             The Issuer is a corporation continued under the Corporations Act (Newfoundland and Labrador). The head office of the Issuer is in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

2.             The Issuer is a reporting issuer in each province of Canada and is not in default of securities legislation in any jurisdiction of Canada.

 

3.             The Common Shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (the TSX) and the New York Stock Exchange (the NYSE).

 

4.             The Issuer is subject to reporting obligations under the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the U.S. Exchange Act), and files its continuous disclosure documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC) in the U.S.

 

5.             On March 26, 2018, the Issuer filed a prospectus supplement in Canada and the U.S. relating to an ATM Offering (the Current ATM Offering), in reliance on the exemptive relief order granted by the Decision Makers on March 23, 2018. The Current ATM Offering expired on November 29, 2018 when the Issuer filed a preliminary short form base shelf prospectus and a registration statement on Form F-10 (the Registration Statement) with the SEC under the multi-jurisdictional disclosure system.

 

6.             The (final) short form base shelf prospectus (the Shelf Prospectus) will provide for the distribution from time to time of Common Shares, first preference shares, second preference shares, subscription receipts and debt securities. Following the issuance by the Decision Makers of a receipt for the Shelf Prospectus, the Issuer expects to enter into an Equity Distribution Agreement with the Agents and file a prospectus supplement in each of the provinces of Canada and with the SEC to qualify the distribution of Common Shares in connection with the ATM Offering (the Prospectus Supplement).

 

The Agents

 

7.             Scotia Capital Inc. is a corporation incorporated under the laws of the Province of Ontario, with its head office in Toronto, Ontario.

 

8.             TD Securities Inc. is a corporation incorporated under the laws of the Province of Ontario, with its head office in Toronto, Ontario.

 

9.             Morgan Stanley Canada Limited is a corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada, with its head office in Toronto, Ontario.

 

10.          Wells Fargo Securities Canada, Ltd. is a limited company incorporated under the laws of the Province of Nova Scotia, with its head office in Toronto, Ontario.

 

11.          Each of the Canadian Agents is registered as an investment dealer under the securities legislation in each province of Canada, is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and is a participating organization of the TSX.

 

12.          Scotia Capital (USA) Inc. is a corporation formed under the laws of the State of New York, with its head office in New York, New York.

 

13.          TD Securities (USA) LLC is a limited liability company formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its head office in New York, New York.

 

14.          Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is a limited liability company formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its head office in New York, New York.

 

15.          Wells Fargo Securities, LLC is a limited liability company formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its head office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

16.          Each of the U.S. Agents is a broker-dealer registered with the SEC under the U.S. Exchange Act.

 

17.          None of the Agents are in default of any requirements under applicable securities legislation in any of the jurisdictions of Canada.

 

Proposed ATM Distribution

 

18.          Subject to mutual agreement on terms and conditions, the Filers propose to enter into the Equity Distribution Agreement for the purpose of the ATM Offering involving the periodic sale of Common Shares by the Issuer through the Agents, as agents, under the shelf prospectus procedures prescribed by Part 9 of NI 44-102.

19.          If the Equity Distribution Agreement is entered into, the Issuer will immediately do both of the following:

 

(a)           issue and file a news release pursuant to section 3.2 of NI 44-102 announcing the Equity Distribution Agreement and indicating that the Shelf Prospectus and the Prospectus Supplement have been filed on SEDAR and specifying where and how purchasers of Common Shares under the ATM Offering may obtain copies; and

 

(b)           file the Equity Distribution Agreement on SEDAR.

 

20.          Prior to making an ATM Distribution, the Issuer will have filed, (a) in each province of Canada, the Shelf Prospectus and will have received a receipt for the Shelf Prospectus from the Decision Makers, and (b) any required amendment to the Registration Statement with the SEC. Shortly thereafter, the Issuer will file, in each province of Canada and with the SEC, the Prospectus Supplement describing the terms of the ATM Offering, including the terms of the Equity Distribution Agreement and otherwise supplementing the disclosure in the Shelf Prospectus.

 

21.          Under the proposed Equity Distribution Agreement, the Issuer may conduct one or more ATM Distributions subject to the 10% limitation set out in subsection 9.1(1) of NI 44-102.

 

22.          The Issuer will not, during the period that the Shelf Prospectus is effective, distribute by way of one or more ATM Distributions a total market value of Common Shares that exceeds 10% of the aggregate market value of Common Shares, such aggregate market value calculated in accordance with section 9.2 of NI 44-102 and as at the last trading day of the month before the month in which the first ATM Distribution is made.

 

23.          The Issuer will conduct ATM Distributions only through one or more of the Agents (as agent) directly or via a Selling Agent, and only through (i) the TSX, (ii) the NYSE, or (iii) another marketplace (as defined in National Instrument 21-101 – Marketplace Operation) upon which the Common Shares are listed, quoted or otherwise traded (each, a Marketplace).

 

24.          The Canadian Agents will act as the sole agents of the Issuer in connection with an ATM Distribution directly or through one or more Selling Agents on the TSX or any other Marketplace in Canada (a Canadian Marketplace), and will be paid an agency fee or commission by the Issuer in connection with such sales. If sales are effected through a Selling Agent, the Selling Agent will be paid a seller’s commission for effecting the trades on behalf of the Canadian Agents. The Canadian Agents will each sign an agent’s certificate, in the form set out in paragraph 41 below, in the Prospectus Supplement.

 

25.          A purchaser’s rights and remedies under applicable securities legislation against the Canadian Agents, as agents of an ATM Distribution through a Canadian Marketplace, will not be affected by a decision to effect the sale directly or through a Selling Agent.

 

26.          The aggregate number of Common Shares sold on one or more Canadian Marketplaces pursuant to an ATM Distribution on any trading day will not exceed 25% of the trading volume of the Common Shares on all Canadian Marketplaces on that day.

 

27.          The Equity Distribution Agreement will provide that, at the time of each sale of Common Shares pursuant to an ATM Distribution, the Issuer will represent to the Agents that the Shelf Prospectus, as supplemented by the Prospectus Supplement, including the documents incorporated by reference in the Shelf Prospectus (which shall include any news release that has been designated and filed as a Designated News Release (as defined below)) and any subsequent amendment or supplement to the Shelf Prospectus or the Prospectus Supplement (together, the Prospectus), contains full, true and plain disclosure of all material facts relating to the Issuer and the Common Shares being distributed. The Issuer will, therefore, be unable to proceed with sales pursuant to an ATM Distribution when it is in possession of undisclosed information that would constitute a material fact or a material change in respect of the Issuer or the Common Shares.

 

28.          During the period after the date of the Prospectus Supplement and before the termination of any ATM Distribution, if the Issuer disseminates a news release disclosing information that, in the Issuer’s determination, constitutes a “material fact” (as such term is defined in the Legislation), the Issuer will identify such news release as a “designated news release” for the purposes of the Prospectus. This designation will be made on the face page of the version of such news release filed on SEDAR (any such news release, a Designated News Release). The Prospectus Supplement will provide that any such Designated News Release will be deemed to be incorporated by reference into the Prospectus. A Designated News Release will not be used to update disclosure in the Prospectus by the Issuer in the event of a “material change” (as such term is defined in the Legislation).

 

29.          If, after the Issuer delivers a sell notice to the Agents directing the Agents to sell Common Shares on the Issuer’s behalf pursuant to the Equity Distribution Agreement (a Sell Notice), the sale of the Common Shares specified in the Sell Notice, taking into consideration prior sales under the ATM Offering, would constitute a material fact or material change, the Issuer will suspend sales under the Equity Distribution Agreement until either: (a) it has filed a Designated News Release or material change report, as applicable, or amended the Prospectus; or (b) circumstances have changed such that a sale would no longer constitute a material fact or material change.

 

30.          In determining whether the sale of the number of Common Shares specified in a Sell Notice would constitute a material fact or material change, the Issuer will take into account a number of factors, including, without limitation:

 

(a)           the parameters of the Sell Notice, including the number of Common Shares proposed to be sold and any price or timing restrictions that the Issuer may impose with respect to the particular ATM Distribution;

 

(b)           the percentage of the outstanding Common Shares that the number of Common Shares proposed to be sold pursuant to the Sell Notice represents;

 

(c)           sales under earlier Sell Notices;

 

(d)           trading volume and volatility of the Common Shares;

 

(e)           recent developments in the business, operations or capital of the Issuer; and

 

(f)            prevailing market conditions generally.

 

31.          It is in the interest of the Issuer and the Agents to minimize the market impact of sales under an ATM Distribution. Therefore, the Agents will closely monitor the market’s reaction to trades made on any Marketplace pursuant to an ATM Distribution in order to evaluate the likely market impact of future trades. The Agents have experience and expertise in managing sell orders to limit downward pressure on trading prices. If the Agents have concerns as to whether a particular sell order placed by the Issuer may have a significant effect on the market price of the Common Shares, the Agents will recommend against effecting the trades pursuant to the sell order at that time.

 

Disclosure of Common Shares Sold in ATM Offering

 

32.          The Issuer will disclose the number and average price of Common Shares sold pursuant to ATM Distributions, as well as gross proceeds, commissions and net proceeds, in its annual and interim financial statements and management discussion and analysis filed on SEDAR.

 

Prospectus Delivery Requirement

 

33.          Pursuant to the Prospectus Delivery Requirement, a dealer effecting a trade of securities offered under a prospectus is required to deliver a copy of the prospectus (including the applicable prospectus supplement(s) in the case of a base shelf prospectus) to the purchaser within prescribed time limits.

 

34.          Delivery of a prospectus is not practicable in the circumstances of an ATM Distribution, because neither the Agents nor a Selling Agent effecting the trade will know the identity of the purchasers.

 

35.          The Prospectus will be filed and readily available electronically via SEDAR to all purchasers under ATM Distributions. As stated in paragraph 19 above, the Issuer will issue a news release that specifies where and how copies of the Prospectus may be obtained.

 

36.          The liability of an issuer or an underwriter (or others) for a misrepresentation in a prospectus pursuant to the civil liability provisions of the Legislation will not be affected by the grant of an exemption from the Prospectus Delivery Requirement because purchasers of securities offered by a prospectus during the period of distribution have a right of action for damages or rescission, without regard to whether or not the purchaser relied on the misrepresentation or in fact received a copy of the prospectus.

 

Withdrawal Right and Right of Action for Non-Delivery

 

37.          Pursuant to the Legislation, an agreement of purchase and sale in respect of a distribution to which the prospectus requirement applies is not binding upon the purchaser if the dealer from whom the purchaser purchases the security receives, not later than midnight on the second day (exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) after receipt by the purchaser of the latest prospectus or any amendment to the prospectus, a written or telegraphic notice evidencing the intention of the purchaser not to be bound by the agreement of purchase and sale (the Withdrawal Right).

38.          Pursuant to the Legislation, a purchaser of securities to whom a prospectus was required to be sent or delivered in compliance with the Prospectus Delivery Requirement, but was not so sent or delivered, has a right of action for rescission or damages against the dealer who did not comply with the Prospectus Delivery Requirement (the Right of Action for Non-Delivery).

 

39.          Neither the Withdrawal Right nor the Right of Action for Non-Delivery is workable in the context of the ATM Offering because of the impracticability of delivering the Prospectus to a purchaser of Common Shares thereunder.

 

Modified Certificates and Statements

 

40.          To reflect the fact that the ATM Offering is a continuous distribution, the Prospectus Supplement and any amendment thereto will include the following issuer certificate (with appropriate modifications in respect of the filing of an amendment prescribed by section 2.4 of Appendix A to NI 44-102), such issuer certificate to supersede and replace the issuer certificate to be included in the Shelf Prospectus solely with regard to the ATM Offering:

 

The short form prospectus, together with the documents incorporated in the prospectus by reference, as supplemented by the foregoing, as of the date of a particular distribution of securities under the prospectus, will, as of that date, constitute full, true and plain disclosure of all material facts relating to the securities offered by the prospectus and this supplement as required by the securities legislation of each of the provinces of Canada.

 

41.          The Prospectus Supplement and any amendment thereto will include the following underwriter certificate (with appropriate modifications in respect of the filing of an amendment prescribed by section 2.4 of Appendix A to NI 44-102):

 

To the best of our knowledge, information and belief, the short form prospectus, together with the documents incorporated in the prospectus by reference, as supplemented by the foregoing, as of the date of a particular distribution of securities under the prospectus, will, as of that date, constitute full, true and plain disclosure of all material facts relating to the securities offered by the prospectus and this supplement as required by the securities legislation of each of the provinces of Canada.

 

42.          A different statement of purchasers’ rights than that required by the Legislation is necessary so that the Prospectus Supplement will accurately reflect the relief granted from the Prospectus Delivery Requirement. Accordingly, the Prospectus Supplement will state the following, with the date reference completed:

 

Securities legislation in certain of the provinces of Canada provides purchasers with the right to withdraw from an agreement to purchase securities and with remedies for rescission or, in some jurisdictions, revisions of the price, or damages if the prospectus, prospectus supplements relating to securities purchased by a purchaser and any amendment are not delivered to the purchaser, provided that the remedies are exercised by the purchaser within the time limit prescribed by securities legislation. However, purchasers of Common Shares under an at-the-market distribution by us will not have the right to withdraw from an agreement to purchase the Common Shares and will not have remedies of rescission or, in some jurisdictions, revisions of the price, or damages for non-delivery of the prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and any amendment thereto relating to Common Shares purchased by such purchaser because the prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and any amendment thereto relating to the Common Shares purchased by such purchaser will not be delivered as permitted under a decision dated ●, 2018 and granted pursuant to National Policy 11-203 – Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions.

 

Securities legislation in certain of the provinces of Canada further provides purchasers with remedies for rescission or, in some jurisdictions, revisions of the price or damages if the prospectus, prospectus supplements relating to securities purchased by a purchaser and any amendment contains a misrepresentation, provided that the remedies are exercised by the purchaser within the time limit prescribed by securities legislation. Any remedies under securities legislation that a purchaser of Common Shares under an at-the-market distribution by us may have against us or the Agents for rescission or, in some jurisdictions, revisions of the price, or damages if the prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and any amendment thereto relating to securities purchased by a purchaser and any amendment contain a misrepresentation will remain unaffected by the non-delivery and the decision referred to above.

 

A purchaser should refer to any applicable provisions of the securities legislation of the purchaser’s province and the decision referred to above for the particulars of these rights or consult with a legal adviser.

 

43.          The Prospectus Supplement will disclose that, solely with regards to the ATM Offering, the statement prescribed in paragraph 42 above supersedes and replaces the statement of purchasers’ rights to be included in the Shelf Prospectus.

 

Decision

 

The Decision Makers are satisfied that this decision satisfies the test set out in the Legislation for the Decision Makers to make the decision.

 

The decision of the Decision Makers under the Legislation is that the Exemptions Sought are granted, provided:

 

(a)           at least one of the following is true:

 

(i)            during the 60-day period ending not earlier than 10 days prior to the commencement of an ATM Distribution, the Common Shares have traded, in total, on one or more Marketplaces, as reported on a consolidated market display:

 

(A)           an average of at least 100 times per trading day, and

 

(B)           with an average trading value of at least $1,000,000 per trading day; or

 

(ii)           at the commencement of an ATM Distribution, the Common Shares are subject to Regulation M under the U.S. Exchange Act and are an “actively-traded security” as defined thereunder;

 

(b)           the Issuer does not, during the period that the Shelf Prospectus is effective, distribute by way of one or more ATM Distributions a total market value of Common Shares that exceeds 10% of the aggregate market value of Common Shares, such aggregate market value calculated in accordance with section 9.2 of NI 44-102 and as at the last trading day of the month before the month in which the first ATM Distribution is made;

 

(c)           the Issuer complies with the disclosure requirements set out in paragraphs 32, 40 through 43 above; and

 

(d)           the Issuer and Agents respectively comply with the representations made in paragraphs 19, 23, 24 and 26 through 31 above.

 

This decision will terminate on the date that is 25 months from the date on which the receipt for the Shelf Prospectus is issued.

 

As to the Exemptions Sought from the Prospectus Delivery Requirement:

 

“William J Furlong”

Commissioner

Ontario Securities Commission

“Deborah Leckman”

Commissioner

Ontario Securities Commission

As to the Exemptions Sought from the Prospectus Delivery Requirement and the Prospectus Form Requirements:

“Michael Balter”

Manager, Corporate Finance

Ontario Securities Commission