Equity capital markets in Brazil: regulatory overview

A Q&A guide to equity capital markets law in Brazil. The Q&A gives an overview of main equity markets/exchanges, regulators and legislation, listing requirements, offering structures, advisers, prospectus/offer document, marketing, bookbuilding, underwriting, timetables, stabilisation, tax, continuing obligations and de-listing.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions visit the Equity Capital Markets Country Q&A tool.

This Q&A is part of the PLC multi-jurisdictional guide to capital markets law. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/capitalmarkets-mjg.

Fabíola Augusta Cavalcanti, Gabriella Najjar and Fabiana Paiva, Barbosa, Müssnich & Aragão Advogados

Main equity markets/exchanges

1. What are the main equity markets/exchanges in your jurisdiction? Outline the main market activity and deals in the past year.

Main equity markets/exchanges

The only equity market in Brazil is the Bolsa de Valores de São Paulo (BM&FBOVESPA) (www.bmfbovespa.com).

BM&FBOVESPA does the following:

  • Develops, implements and provides systems for trading many types of securities.

  • Is responsible for registering, clearing and settling transactions carried out on its trading systems.

  • Acts as central securities depository, and licenses software and stock indices.

BM&FBOVESPA also manages the over-the-counter (OTC) market for shares in Brazil. However, the volume of share trading is not very significant. For example, from March 2011 to February 2012, the average monthly trading volume was R$65,898.98 (as at 1 February 2012, US$1 was about R$1.74).

Market activity and deals

In 2011, there were ten initial public offerings (IPOs), totalling about R$4.8 billion.

Due to the international financial crisis, some IPOs that were scheduled to happen in 2011 were postponed. To postpone an IPO the issuer must make a request to the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM). The IPO process can be suspended for 60 business days. By the end of that time, if the issuer decides not to go public, the CVM, after a new request from the issuer, ends the IPO process.

There are 60 foreign companies currently trading Brazilian Depositary Receipts (BDRs) (see Question 3) on BM&FBOVESPA, 20 of which began trading in 2011.

2. What are the main regulators and legislation that applies to the equity markets/exchanges in your jurisdiction?

Regulatory bodies

The relevant regulatory body is the CVM.

Legislative framework

The Brazilian securities market is regulated by the CVM, which has regulatory authority over the stock exchanges and securities' markets, as well as the National Monetary Council (CMN), and the Brazilian Central Bank (BACEN), which have, among other powers, regulatory authority over brokerage firms and regulatory authority over foreign investment and foreign exchange transactions.

The main capital markets legislation is:

  • Federal Law No. 6,385/76, which regulates the Brazilian securities market and creates the CVM.

  • Federal Law No. 6,404/76, the Corporations Law.

  • Rules and regulations issued by the CVM, such as CVM Instruction No. 400/03, which regulates public offerings of securities in Brazil.


Equity offerings

3. What are the main requirements for a primary listing on the main markets/exchanges?

Main requirements

When a company decides to list, it will be registered as a publicly-held company with the CVM. An issuer registered with the CVM can trade its securities on the BM&FBOVESPA, once it has registered to have its securities traded on the BM&FBOVESPA, or on the OTC market.

Foreign companies can trade their securities traded by way of BDRs, which are deposit certificates representing securities, giving investors access to securities issued by publicly-listed foreign companies while ensuring that the transaction is carried out on the domestic market and according to Brazilian rules.

The foreign issuer as well as any public offering of BDRs must be registered with the CVM. BDRs are also admitted for trading in the BM&FBOVESPA.

Brazilian issuers are divided into class A and class B categories depending on the type of security issued. Class A companies are those that can issue equity and debt securities, while class B are those that can only issue debt securities. The difference between them is basically the level of information disclosed to the market.

Minimum size requirements

There are no capital minimum requirements for an issuer to go public, but a financial feasibility study may be required by the CVM in certain situations.

There is no minimum free float, unless an issuer is listed in one of the three levels of the BM&FBOVESPA corporate governance (Novo Mercado, Level 1 and Level 2), in which case there is a requirement for a minimum free float equivalent to 25% of its capital stock. The levels of the BM&FBOVESPA corporate governance are special listing segments designed to increase the company's value, and to facilitate its access to capital by improving its relationship with investors and the market by better disclosing information to the public and establishing standards for the conduct of companies, managers and controlling shareholders.

4. What are the main requirements for a secondary listing on the main markets/exchanges?

There is no answer content for this Question, as it is a new addition to the template that did not exist at the time of writing.

5. What are the main ways of structuring an IPO?

An IPO can be structured as an issuance of equity or debt. If an IPO is structured as an issuance of equity, the issuer can raise funds through a primary offering or a secondary offering.

Offering shares to the market is always public in Brazil. It is possible to market the offering abroad, as a sale effort, under Regulation S and Rule 144A, which outline the conditions for such marketing.

6. What are the main ways of structuring a subsequent equity offering?

A subsequent equity offering can be structured in the same way as an IPO.

However, for a subsequent offering, if the issuer's registration with the CVM is updated, the issuer can apply for certain fast track proceedings provided by the CVM, allowing the company to go to the market sooner.

7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of rights issues/other types of follow on equity offerings?

There is no answer content for this Question, as it is a new addition to the template that did not exist at the time of writing.

8. What are the main steps for a company applying for a primary listing of its shares? Is the procedure different for a foreign company and is a foreign company likely to seek a listing for shares or depositary receipts?

Procedure for a primary listing

A primary listing has three main steps in which the issuer must:

  • Request registration with the CVM in one of the permitted categories (class A or B), if the issuer is not a publicly-held company.

  • Apply for BM&FBOVESPA registration to have its securities listed in one of the three levels of corporate governance (level one, level two or the Novo Mercado).

  • Request the CVM to register the offering.

All three steps are performed simultaneously.

Procedure for a foreign company

Foreign companies can only trade their securities by way of Brazilian depositary receipts (BDRs). The foreign issuer and the BDRs must be registered with the CVM.


Advisers: equity offering

9. Outline the role of advisers used and main documents produced in an equity offering. Does it differ for an IPO?

The roles of advisors are as follows:

  • Underwriters. The underwriters are primarily responsible for handling the equity offering process, from establishing the timeline for the offering to defining the plan of distribution. The lead underwriter is responsible for all communications with the CVM and the information provided to the market about the offering.

  • Issuer's lawyers. The issuer's lawyers are responsible for drafting the prospectus and preparing all the documents needed for filing with the CVM and BM&FBOVESPA. They also review all documents prepared by the underwriters' lawyers in connection with preparing the offering.

  • Underwriters' lawyers. The underwriters' lawyers are responsible for preparing all documents relating to the offering, including the underwriting agreement, public announcements and subscription forms. They also review all paperwork produced by the issuer's lawyers.

  • Auditors. The auditors are responsible for reviewing the issuer's financial statements prepared for the offering.

The main documents produced in an equity offering are basically the same as those used in an IPO. These include, among other documents:

  • Offering registration request.

  • Prospectuses.

  • Financial statements.

  • Drafts of public announcements in general.

  • Agreements executed with the underwriters.

  • Minutes of corporate resolutions.

  • Updated bye-laws of the issuer.

  • Reference form.

  • Any other documents and information requested by the CVM.


Equity prospectus/main offering document

10. When is a prospectus (or other main offering document) required? What are the main publication, regulatory filing or delivery requirements?

In general, a prospectus is required when the issuer applies to the CVM for registration to make a public offering. There may be a preliminary and a final prospectus, both of which must be approved by the CVM.

A prospectus must meet the disclosure requirements provided for under CVM Instruction no. 400/03 to ensure that potential investors have the necessary information to make an informed investment decision. It must contain, at least, information regarding the:

  • Offering.

  • Securities to be offered and the rights attached to them.

  • Issuer and its financial and economic condition.

11. What are the main exemptions from the requirements for publication or delivery of a prospectus (or other main offering document)?

Depending on the characteristics of the public offering, the CVM, at its sole discretion, can waive the registration or some of the requirements for the registration of the offering, including the prospectus. However, in doing so, the CVM must always act in the best interest of the public and ensure adequate information and protection for the investor. It must consider, for example, the unit value of the securities offered or the total value of the offering, the plan of distribution, and whether it is to be exclusively targeted at qualified investors.

12. What are the main content or disclosure requirements for a prospectus (or other main offering document)? What main categories of information are included?

The prospectus must contain all the information referred to in Schedule III of CVM Instruction No. 400/03. This includes:

  • A summary of the characteristics of the offering.

  • Identification of the company's manager, consultants and auditors.

  • Information related to the offering.

  • Terms and conditions of the underwriting agreement.

  • A feasibility study, if applicable.

  • Risk factors.

  • Issuer's reference form.

  • Financial statements and quarterly information.

  • Minutes of the shareholders' meeting, or board of directors meeting, approving the offering.

  • Updated bye-laws of the issuer.

  • Any other documents and information requested by the CVM.

13. How is the prospectus (or other main offering document) prepared? Who is responsible and/or may be liable for its contents?

The issuer, together with the underwriters, prepares the prospectus, advised by their respective lawyers and the issuer's auditors.

The necessary information required to draft the prospectus is compiled through a due diligence process conducted by the underwriters and lawyers involved in the offering and the auditors. This is to better understand the business of the issuer, its economic, financial, legal and operational situation, as well as the risks it faces.

If a prospectus contains any untrue or misleading information, or fails to disclose any material aspect required, the CVM can impose penalties against the issuer and the lead underwriter. Penalties vary from a warning and fines to cancellation of the registration or of the authorisation to carry out activities in the securities market.

Under the Criminal Code, a false statement regarding the financial condition of a publicly-held company provided by its management or the fraudulent concealment related to such information, in a prospectus, can be punished by imprisonment from one to four years and a fine, if the fact does not constitute a crime against the popular economy. If the false statement constitutes a crime against the popular economy, the punishment will be increased to imprisonment from two to ten years and a fine. A crime against the popular economy occurs when a false statement in a prospectus is made for purposes of substitution, sale or purchase of securities.


Marketing equity offerings

14. How are offered equity securities marketed?

During the time between filing and registration, the underwriters market the securities and build up a book of interested potential investors. A variety of marketing methods are typically employed in an IPO transaction, such as pre-marketing, road shows, one-on-one meetings with key investors, and advertising.

No public advertising in relation to the offering can be made without CVM pre-approval.

15. Outline any potential liability for publishing research reports by participating brokers/dealers and ways used to avoid such liability.

Underwriters participating in an offering cannot disclose information regarding the offering or the issuer until publication of the closing announcement (this is known as the "quiet period"), except in cases where the underwriters present to the CVM the public report and research on the issuer.

Additionally, the issuer and the underwriters must ensure the precision and adequacy of any information supplied to any investor in the prospectus, and must file such documents and information with the CVM. Violation of the quiet period is subject to penalties under Law 6,345/76.

However, the quiet period does not prevent a securities analyst from disclosing reports about an issuer already listed in the stock exchange, when performing a secondary offering.

If a securities analyst working for a brokerage firm belonging to the same economic group as the underwriter has a negative evaluation of the issuance, while the underwriters are recommending the purchase of the shares, the CVM requires such reports to be disclosed to the public.



16. Is the bookbuilding procedure used and in what circumstances? How is any related retail offer dealt with? How are orders confirmed?

Bookbuilding is the process of collecting investment intentions to price certain securities in offerings that have preliminary prospectuses. The size and pricing of the offering are only set once indications of demand have been received from potential investors after publication of the preliminary prospectus.

Once the level of institutional and retail demand has been assessed, the underwriters set the offering price together with the issuer. However, in general, orders made by retail investors are not included for the offering price definition.

Subscription orders are binding and must include payment for the full amount. Due to the larger volume of applications, the retail offering usually closes before the institutional offering.


Underwriting: equity offering

17. How is the underwriting for an equity offering typically structured? What are the key terms of the underwriting agreement and what is a typical underwriting fee?

The lead underwriter, with express approval from the issuer, organises a plan of distribution.

Brazilian underwriting agreements usually follow international standards in IPO transactions. Additionally, CVM Instruction No. 400/03 establishes other provisions to be included in the underwriting agreement, including:

  • Conditions of the underwriting agreement in relation to the placement of the securities and eventual guarantee of subscription rendered by the lead underwriter and the participants in the consortium, specifying the quota of each one, if applicable, among other clauses considered relevant for the investor.

  • Disclosure of the relationship between the issuer and the joint-bookrunners, such as loans, investments and other commercial transactions eventually existing, including those with financial institutions that have corporate relations with the joint-bookrunners.

  • Information regarding the underwriting costs, such as:

    • percentage in relation to the unit price;

    • underwriting fees and commissions;

    • subscription guarantee commission;

    • other commissions (must be specified);

    • placement unit cost;

    • expenses resulting from the registration process; and

    • other related costs.

The underwriting fee is set depending on the characteristics of the offering. Therefore, there is no typical underwriting fee.


Timetable: equity offerings

18. What is the timetable for a typical equity offering? Does it differ for an IPO?

The IPO process and subsequent offerings can take between three to five months, depending mainly on the time needed to prepare the documents required to register the offering (see Questions 9 and 12). Preparation time varies based on the time needed to prepare the issuer's financial statements for the offering, the CVM commenting process and market conditions.



19. Are there rules on price stabilisation and market manipulation in connection with an equity offering?

Stabilisation is required to avoid or postpone the falling of the share offering price after an IPO. Stabilisation cannot be considered as a market manipulation if such agreements are pre-approved by the CVM and BM&FBOVESPA and its mechanism intends to avoid a sudden fall in the share price after the IPO. Due to this purpose, the stabilisation agreement is considered beneficial to investors.


Tax: equity issues

20. What are the main tax issues when issuing and listing equity securities?

There are no immediate tax effects for the issuer when issuing and listing equity securities. There are no tax-related stamp duties or financial taxes for issuing and listing equity securities.


Continuing obligations

21. What are the main areas of continuing obligations applicable to listed companies and the legislation that applies?

Listed companies have continuing obligations in the following areas (CVM Instruction No. 480/09):

  • Accounting.

  • Reporting.

  • Disclosure of information.

  • Trading of securities.

  • Information related to controlling shareholders.

  • Any material facts.

  • Update of the reference form.

  • Other information that may be requested by the CVM.

22. Do the continuing obligations apply to listed foreign companies and to issuers of depositary receipts?

Continuing obligations apply to listed foreign companies if the foreign issuer sponsors level two and three BDR programmes.

23. What are the penalties for breaching the continuing obligations?

Any listed company that violates its obligations to the CVM is subject to a daily fine corresponding to the nature of the violation. These penalties can also be combined with the directors' and officers' liabilities.

Also, the CVM can suspend the issuer's registration if the issuer does not fulfil, for more than 12 months, its periodic obligations. In such cases, the CVM can then cancel the issuer's registration.

The issuer is subject to a daily fine of R$500 for not observing the deadlines to comply with continuing obligations, according to CVM Instruction No. 480/09.

Repeated non-compliance with the deadlines set out for submitting periodic and event information to the CVM comprises serious violation of Law 6,385/76 (see Question 13).


Market abuse and insider dealing

24. What are the restrictions on market abuse and insider dealing?

There is no answer content for this Question, as it is a new addition to the template that did not exist at the time of writing.



25. When can a company be de-listed?

Voluntary de-listing

The first step for a voluntary de-listing is that the issuer or the issuer's controlling shareholder must buy all of the free float.

A tender offer (realizar una oferta pública de adquisición de valores) (OPA) is an offering made outside the stock exchange for the acquisition of publicly-held company shares, regardless of the quantity of shares the buyer wants to acquire.

The issuer must undertake a mandatory OPA, as a condition for cancellation of its registration as a publicly-held company.

Compulsory de-listing

Compulsory de-listing can occur if the issuer does not abide by the applicable regulations for a certain period of time, which depends on the nature of the infraction.

CVM may cancel the securities issuer's registration on the issuer's:

  • Dissolution.

  • Registration suspension, if for a period of more than 12 months.

Registration cancellation does not exempt the issuer, the controlling shareholder and the administrators from responsibilities arising from violations made before the cancellation.

In 2011, there were 47 de-listings, including both compulsory and voluntary, according to the CVM.



26. Are there any proposals for reform of equity capital markets/exchanges? Are these proposals likely to come into force and, if so, when?

No reforms are currently expected.

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