By Editorial Board. (The Wall Street Journal). November 1, 2023.
Is Gary Gensler ever going to win a case? On Tuesday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals handed the Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman another legal defeat by scuttling the agency’s stock-buyback rule (U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. SEC.)
The SEC in May finalized a rule requiring public companies to disclose their daily share repurchases and the reason for buying back their stock. Mr. Gensler claimed companies might buy back their stock to boost executive compensation, which is sometimes tied to accounting metrics such as earnings per share.
A 2020 SEC staff study found scant evidence for Mr. Gensler’s suspicion, explaining that repurchases help issuers “maintain optimal levels of cash holdings and minimize their cost of capital” and “on average” have “a positive effect on firm value.” Nonetheless, Mr. Gensler claimed that investors would benefit from knowing why and when shares were being repurchased.
His real motivation appears to have been to shame companies and help his friends in the securities litigation bar sue companies over their buybacks. Companies faced potentially hefty legal bills defending against lawsuits challenging the motivation and timing of their share buybacks, especially if they resulted in higher executive compensation.
Read the full piece from the Wall Street Journal here: Gary Gensler and the SEC Lose Again.