House Votes To Exempt Private Equity Firms From SEC Registration

Dec 5 2013 | 11:40am ET

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted to exempt most private-equity firms from registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission—but that is about as far as the effort is likely to go.

The vote is the latest effort by House Republicans to roll back portions of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform law. But despite winning the votes of 36 Democrats in the House, the Democrats in control of the Senate and White House are not enthusiastic: The bill has not even been introduced in the upper chamber, and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it.

Only one Republican, North Carolina's Walter Jones, opposed the bill in the House.

"At a time when the capital small businesses need to grow and thrive is already difficult to come by, we must make it easier for our Main Street businesses to access these vital resources and create jobs," Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.), the bill's sponsor, said.

The p.e. industry has complained that the registration requirement, which also falls on hedge funds, is overly burdensome and unnecessary, given their claim that private equity did not contribute to the financial crisis. Private Equity Growth Capital Council CEO Steve Judge said the House bill "removes registration requirements that provide no appreciable investor protections, while significantly increasing the cost of compliance for our industry."

Dodd-Frank requires managers with funds in excess of $150 million to register with the SEC. SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said in June that she opposed any move to exempt them from registering.

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