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April 20, 2017
 
 
Let Public Companies Sell Shares in the Public Markets
 

A Message from Our CEO

While the financial industry is focused on the diminishing number of IPOs, what they should also be concerned about is why so many fully SEC reporting public companies are still raising capital privately.

Earlier this month, I published an OpEd in Bloomberg View in which I propose an innovative solution for attracting growing companies back to the public markets: allow public companies to sell their shares into the public markets as easily as they can buy them back, through brokers directly into their established public markets.

Many companies are currently forced to turn to private offerings to sell their shares – often at a sizable discount – rather than deal with the red tape of a public offering. For smaller companies this often leads to negative terms and toxic financings.

Some simple regulatory changes could make it possible for companies to sell shares into the public markets:

  • Streamline and broaden existing shelf regulations rules to cover all SEC reporting companies
  • Eliminate the need for public companies to file “supplemental registration statements” when selling authorized shares into the market, and expand the safe harbor rule to include all legally authorized shares
  • Allow brokers to execute orders to sell shares directly from the issuer without the burden of underwriting obligations

SEC reporting is the best continuous disclosure system in the world, and we should use its strengths to modernize our markets. With modest rule changes, the U.S. public markets can provide an essential source of growth capital for innovative and entrepreneurial companies. We will all benefit from more efficient capital formation.

Read my complete OpEd on Bloomberg View here.

If you agree with my proposal, please lend your support by writing your local Congressperson.

R. Cromwell Coulson
President & CEO
OTC Markets Group Inc.

 
 
 
Proposed Amendments to OTCQB Standards
 

On April 17th, OTC Markets Group published proposed amendments to the OTCQB Standards. The new standard would allow companies that follow the Alternative Reporting Standard to qualify for OTCQB. These companies would be required to make public disclosure available pursuant to the OTCQX and OTCQB Disclosure Guidelines and meet certain Corporate Governance requirements. Other proposed amendments include fine-tuning a number of continued eligibility requirements, and reorganizing several sections to improve clarity. View the OTCQB Standards Release No. 3 (Proposed Amendments).

The comment period for the proposed changes is 30 days. Send comments and questions to Mike Vasilios, Vice President of Issuer Compliance at mike@otcmarkets.com by May 17, 2017.

 
 
Transfer Agent Verified Shares Program Expands
 

Colonial Stock Transfer, Island Stock Transfer, and Transfer Online joined OTC Markets' Transfer Agent Verified Shares Program in March, further growing the list of transfer agents that have partnered with OTC Markets Group to improve the transparency of share information for OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities.

The Transfer Agent Verified Shares Program, launched in October 2016, is an initiative designed to provide investors with current and reliable share data on OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities. The program enables stock transfer agents to report their clients' share data, including authorized and outstanding shares, to OTC Markets Group on a regular basis via a secure, electronic file transfer. Read more.

 
 
Featuring Global Equity Research Firms on our Research Marketplace
 

We recently launched our Research Marketplace, a new online resource for OTCQX and OTCQB companies seeking third-party research analyses and investment tools.

This platform provides OTCQX and OTCQB companies a single point-of-reference when investigating best-in-class institutional and global equity research firms, including ACF Equity Research, Edison, and Sidoti & Company, LLC. In the coming months, look for our profiles of each firm's equity research services and how they help companies broaden their exposure to investors.

 
 
Community Spotlight
 

Stian Hasle, Head of Investor Relations
Norsk Hydro ASA (OTCQX: NHYDY, NHYKF)

"Hydro has strong positions across the value chain, and one of the most competitive positions on the global cost curves for both the bauxite and alumina and primary metal portfolio. We also have a strong hydro power base in Norway, adding to our competitiveness both with regards to cost and climate/sustainability."

 

Read the full interview.

OTC Markets Group (OTCM): Tell us about Norsk Hydro.

Stian Hasle: Norsk Hydro is a more than 100 years old, resource-rich, fully integrated aluminium company, headquartered in Norway, with operations in all major activities along the aluminium industry’s value chain.

Our operations include one of the world’s largest bauxite mines and the world’s largest alumina refinery, both located in the northern part of Brazil. We have primary metal production facilities in Norway, Germany, Slovakia, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Qatar, and we are a leading worldwide supplier of value-added casthouse products, such as extrusion ingots, sheet ingots and foundry alloys. In 2016, we had metal product sales of close to 3 million mt from casthouses integrated with our primary smelters and from an extensive network of specialized remelt facilities close to customers in Europe and the U.S.

On the downstream side, Hydro is involved in rolling and extrusion. We are an industry leader supplying a range of downstream markets, in particular the packaging, lithographic, building, automotive and transport sectors. Further, through the Sapa joint venture transaction we have transformed our extrusion operations and generated substantial synergies.

With more than 100 years of experience in hydropower, Hydro is the second-largest operator of power production in Norway. We have substantial, self-generated power capacity to support our production of primary metal, and are engaged in a number of initiatives to secure competitive power supplies for our aluminium operations.

OTCM: What were your major accomplishments in 2016?

Mr. Hasle: In 2016, Hydro made significant progress towards all main aspects of the company’s overall strategic direction: “Better, Bigger, Greener.”

2016 was a year without fatalities for Hydro and a TRI rate of 2.6 (work-related injuries per million work hours) made 2016 our best year ever, both for our own employees and contractors. Hydro’s safety performance remains among the best in the industry.

2016 was also a year of strong operational performance across the business areas. Hydro’s industry-leading improvement initiatives continued to deliver significant operational and commercial results, and we are ahead of plan in our improvement program “Better, ” targeting NOK 2.9 billion of annual improvements by 2019 vs. 2015. For 2016, NOK 1.4 billion of annual improvements were delivered, exceeding the 1.1 billion target.

For Bauxite & Alumina, 2016 became a year of particularly strong operational progress, with an all-time low implied alumina cost and record production levels, above nameplate capacity, for both the Paragominas bauxite mine and the Alunorte alumina refinery (both in Brazil).

Last year, Hydro invested in future-oriented projects that we expect to be successful seen from a strategic, financial and environmental point of view. During 2017, three important symbols of the new era will be in full operation:

  • The Karmøy Technology Pilot in Norway, which will produce the world’s most climate- and energy-efficient primary aluminium.
  • The Automotive Line 3 in Grevenbroich, Germany, making Hydro the second largest supplier of lightweight car parts in Europe.
  • The UBC recycling line in Neuss, Germany, based on “cutting-edge” technology, which has already started bringing millions of used beverage cans back into the circular economy as new, first-rate aluminium products.

In 2016, Hydro entered into long-term power contracts for the Norwegian smelters and Neuss in Germany. An important regulatory change was also implemented in Norway allowing private ownership of waterfalls through companies with liability, often referred to as industrial ownership or ANS/DA, enabling further progress on Hydro’s work to restructure ownership and protect the value of our power assets.

Hydro also made good progress in its target on becoming climate neutral from a lifecycle perspective by 2020, and is on track to reach that target. Main drivers are: increased recycling, reduced indirect and direct emissions from production processes, and targeting sales to industries where aluminium provides the largest use-phase benefits, like automotive.

OTCM: How does Norsk Hydro differentiate itself from its competitors and what is your growth strategy for 2017?

Mr. Hasle: As the only Western company in the aluminium industry, Hydro pursues a model of full value chain integration. We firmly believe this contributes to the ability to generate added value and to serve leading customers by ensuring operational excellence, driving improvements, and extending our lead in technology and innovation.

Hydro has strong positions across the value chain, and one of the most competitive positions on the global cost curves for both the bauxite and alumina and primary metal portfolio. We also have a strong hydro power base in Norway, adding to our competitiveness both with regards to cost and climate/sustainability. Of the power needed for our metal production around 1/3 is sourced through equity power and 2/3 are based on hydropower, giving us one of the most sustainable positions in the aluminium industry.

Another important advantage for Hydro is that we have a solid balance sheet with a net cash position of NOK 6 bn at the end of 2016. Having financial muscles and flexibility is crucial for navigating successfully through market cycles, allowing us to concentrate on performance and pursuing attractive opportunities which may appear.

As mentioned above, growth in 2017 will come through increased primary metal output by 75,000 mtpa through the Karmøy Technology pilot, increased exposure to the fast-growing automotive market through the new 150,000 mtpa automotive line in Germany and increased recycling through the 40,000 mtpa UBC line in Germany. In addition, we are constantly looking at creeping production throughout the value chain and de-bottlenecking where we see it is needed.

OTCM: Norsk Hydro celebrates 8 years on OTCQX this year. How have you used the OTCQX as part of your U.S. IR program?

Mr. Hasle: In general, we are happy to have our shares traded on a platform which increases our exposure to the U.S. and enables U.S. investors to invest directly in Norsk Hydro stock via a U.S. traded instrument. Being present on OTCQX provides us with a quality stamp that is important in assisting us in targeting the right investor base. At Hydro, we focus on reaching out to investors around the world through several different activities: conferences, roadshows, webcasts, annual capital markets day, etc. And being on the OTCQX is one part of the overall strategy of expanding our investor base and presenting ourselves to a wider community.

We are also looking forward to participating in the OTCQX Virtual Investor Conference events sometime during 2017 to further improve our visibility in the U.S.

OTCM: What else do you want U.S. investors to know about Norsk Hydro?

Mr. Hasle: One important thing to mention is that aluminium, the metal we are producing and selling, has been the fastest growing metal for several decades. We expect that trend to continue, much supported by the global megatrends and properties of the metal making it important both in investment-heavy and consumer-driven economies. And we believe Hydro is in a very good position to capitalize on this strong growth through our first-class assets and commercial capabilities.

Click to close.

 
 
 
Community Spotlight
 

James F. Oliviero, President & CEO
Checkpoint Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCQX: CKPT)


"In 2016, we submitted our first investigational new drug ("IND") application to the FDA, which was subsequently approved, leading to the commencement in September of a Phase 1/2 clinical study of CK-101, our third-generation EGFR inhibitor under development as a potential new treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer." 
 

 

Read the full interview.

OTC Markets Group (OTCM): Tell us about Checkpoint Therapeutics.

James F. Oliviero: Checkpoint Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage, immuno-oncology biopharmaceutical company focused on the acquisition, development and commercialization of novel, non-chemotherapy, immune-enhanced combination treatments for patients with solid tumor cancers. Our strategy is to develop combination cancer therapies at the cutting edge, to empower the body's immune system to kill cancer cells in conjunction with tumor targeted agents.

We are developing a broad pipeline, which currently consists of six drug candidates, two immuno-oncology checkpoint inhibitor antibodies and four tumor targeted agents, which we plan to develop on their own and in combination with each other, as published literature suggests that combinations of these targets may work synergistically together. By developing both components of a combination therapy, we expect to have the ability, unlike most innovators, to competitively price the combination to potentially generate increased market share upon commercialization.

OTCM: What were your major accomplishments in 2016?

Mr. Oliviero: In 2016, we submitted our first investigational new drug ("IND") application to the FDA, which was subsequently approved, leading to the commencement in September of a Phase 1/2 clinical study of CK-101, our third-generation EGFR inhibitor under development as a potential new treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. We also made substantial progress in the pre-clinical development of CK-301, our checkpoint inhibitor antibody licensed from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute that targets PD-L1, in order to support a planned Phase 1 study in mid-2017.

On the corporate front, in 2016, we successfully became a publicly-traded company and shares of our common stock currently trade on the OTCQX market under the ticker symbol "CKPT".

OTCM: How does Checkpoint differentiate itself from its competitors and what is your growth strategy for 2017?

Mr. Oliviero: We believe Checkpoint Therapeutics is differentiated through its diverse pipeline of drug candidates, each with very different mechanisms of action for attacking cancer cells. For example, our two checkpoint inhibitor antibodies under development engage the immune system to fight cancer in two different ways. The anti-PD-L1 antibody (CK-301) is designed to "release the breaks" on an anti-tumor response by the body's immune system, while the anti-GITR antibody (CK-302) is designed to stimulate the immune system ("stepping on the gas") to generate a robust immune response against cancer cells. We believe these antibodies can be used synergistically together to enhance the body 's immune response to cancer, potentially generating increased efficacy and longer durations of tumor response.

In addition, we are developing four targeted tumor targeted agents: a third-generation EGFR inhibitor (CK-101) currently in a Phase 1/2 clinical study, a PARP inhibitor (CK-102), a BET inhibitor (CK-103) and an anti-CAIX antibody. We believe that each of these targeted agents could have increased efficacy against various cancers when combined with one or both of our checkpoint inhibitor antibodies.

OTCM: Checkpoint joined the OTCQX market in November 2016. How are you planning to use OTCQX as part of your U.S. IR program?

Mr. Oliviero: We were pleased to learn of the diverse ways that OTCQX can assist in our IR efforts, including various compliance tools, market information offerings and public outreach through this newsletter. We believe these offerings will complement our current investor outreach program to better tell the Checkpoint story as our pipeline progresses through clinical studies.

OTCM: What else do you want investors to know about Checkpoint?

Mr. Oliviero: In late 2015, we raised $58 million in a private placement, which we anticipate will enable us to continue to move our development programs forward through various value creating milestones over the next 15 to 18 months. In addition, we have a collaboration with TG Therapeutics, Inc. ("TGTX"), under which TGTX will develop our anti-PD-L1, anti-GITR, and BET inhibitor programs for the treatment of liquid tumors, while we focus on solid tumors. We are eligible for potential royalties and milestone payments from TGTX upon their success.

Click to close.

 
 
 
OTCQX Video Series
 

Sonya Ghobrial, Director, Head of Investor Relations for Heineken N.V. (OTCQX: HEINY; HINKF; HKHHY; HKHHF), a global beer industry leader with a presence in 178 countries, discusses the company's IR goals, 2016 Full Year results and pending acquisitions for this year. Watch the full video.

 
 
 
Monthly Trade Summary - March 2017
 
 
Market Designations Number
of Securities*
Monthly
$ Volume
Monthly $ Volume
per Security
YTD $ Volume*
 
OTCQX 421 $3,611,433,577 $8,578,227 $10,584,189,067
OTCQB 983 $1,662,158,645 $1,690,904 $7,814,446,239
Pink 8,225 $12,373,485,241 $1,504,375 $37,555,609,621
Total 9,629 $17,647,077,464 $1,832,700 $55,954,244,928
 

*Data as of March 31, 2017

 
 
OTC Markets Blog
 

How Can We Take the Pain Out of Being Public? Part II
OTC Markets is helping to take the pain out of being a publicly-traded company in three key ways: data-driven market standards, technology-driven information distribution, and broker-dealer-based trading model. We explain how these solutions reduce costs and complexities. Read the full post. 

 
 
 
Events
 

NY Tech Day – New York, NY (April 18, 2017)

CfPA Conference – Washington, D.C. (April 20, 2017)

2017 OTC Link ATS Traders Forum – New York, NY (April 20, 2017)

Webinar: Putting the Power of PR Behind Your IR Message (April 25, 2017)

Planet MicroCap Showcase 2017 – Las Vegas, NV (April 26-28, 2017) 

Pioneers 2017 – New York, NY (May 2, 2017)

Virtual Investor Conference for OTCQX International Companies – Webcast (May 11, 2017)

An Insider’s Perspective: Raising Capital and Accessing the U.S. Market – Tel Aviv, Israel (May 16, 2017)

FISD Rising Stars Happy Hour – New York, NY (May 23, 2017)

4th Annual OTCQX Senior Executive & Issuer’s Forum – Vancouver, Canada (May 31, 2017)

J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge – New York, NY (May 31, 2017)

FundIt 2017: The Crowdfunding, Compliance, Marketing and Fintech Conference – Washington D.C. (June 1-2, 2017)

NIRI Annual Conference – Orlando, FL (June 4-7, 2017)

The 7th Annual LD Micro Invitational Conference – Los Angeles, CA (June 6-7, 2017)

OTC Markets Small-Cap Day – New York, NY (June 14, 2017)

2017 Marcum Microcap Conference – New York, NY (June 15-16, 2017)

IR Magazine Awards – Europe – London, U.K. (June 21, 2017)

IR Magazine Conference – Small Cap 2017 – New York, NY (September 13, 2017)

Please contact events@otcmarkets.com for more information.

 
 
OTCQB Podcast Series
 

We recently launched our OTCQB Podcast Series featuring interviews with the entrepreneurs behind the companies that trade on our Venture Market. The first 6 episodes are now live. 

Listen to episodes: https://www.otcmarkets.com/otcqb-podcast

Subscribe via iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/otcqb-podcast/id1193668018?mt=2

 
 
News
 

Chris King of OTC Markets Group: Resource Companies are Performing Much BetterInvesting News Network (March 16, 2017)

Give Companies Easier Access to Public Markets (OpEd)Bloomberg View (March 22, 2017)

OTC Markets Grows Transfer Agent Verified Shares ProgramCrowdfund Insider (March 29, 2017)

OTC Markets' Transfer Agent Verified Shares Program Expands with Addition of Colonial Stock Transfer and Transfer Onlinepress release (March 29, 2017)

Bloomberg Radio interview with Cromwell CoulsonBloomberg.com (March 31, 2017)

3 IPO alternatives for small-cap companiesIR Magazine online (April 3, 2017)

 
 
New OTCQX and OTCQB Companies
 

Welcome to the companies that joined the OTCQX Best Market and the OTCQB Venture Market in March 2017.

The OTCQX Best Market
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (OTCQX: ACBFF)
Candelaria Mining Corp. (OTCQX: CDELF)
Greenpower Motor Co. Inc. (OTCQX: GPVRF)
Mountain Commerce Bancorp Inc. (OTCQX: MCBI)
Neo Lithium Corp. (OTCQX: NTTHF)
Nuo Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCQX: AURX)
Profound Medical Corp. (OTCQX: PRFMF)

The OTCQB Venture Market
5Barz International Inc. (OTCQB: BARZ)
Agritek Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: AGTK)
Alexandria Minerals Corp. (OTCQB: ALXDF)
Alternate Health Corp. (OTCQB: AHGIF)
BioCorRx Inc. (OTCQB: BICX)
BioVie Inc. (OTCQB: BIVI)
BNK Petroleum, Inc. (OTCQB: BNKPF)
Butler National Corp. (OTCQB: BUKS)
Canabo Medical Inc. (OTCQB: CAMDF)
Carolco Pictures, Inc. (OTCQB: CRCO)
Deepmarkit Corp. (OTCQB: CNDRF)
DRONE GUARDER, INC. (OTCQB: DRNG)
Fision Corp (OTCQB: FSSN)
GH Cap Inc. (OTCQB: GHHC)
Identillect Technologies Corp. (OTCQB: IDTLF)
IEH Corp. (OTCQB: IEHC)
Innerscope Advertising Agy Inc. (OTCQB: INND)
JAPAN GOLD CORP (OTCQB: JGLDF)
PHI Group, Inc. (OTCQB: PHIL)
Probe Metals Inc. (OTCQB: PROBF)
Renaissance Oil Corp. (OTCQB: RNSFF)
Spindle, Inc. (OTCQB: SPDL)
theMaven, Inc. (OTCQB: MVEN)
Titan Computer Svcs Inc. (OTCQB: TTNC)
Todos Med Ltd. (OTCQB: TOMDF)
UAS Drone Corp. (OTCQB: USDR)
Virtual Learning Co Inc (OTCQB: VRTR)

 
 
Graduates to an Exchange Listing
 

Congratulations to the following companies that graduated from the OTCQB Venture Market to an exchange listing in March 2017.

Akoustis Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: AKTS)
Cachet Financial Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: CAFN)
Lilis Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq: LLEX)
Matinas Biopharma Holdings, Inc. (NYSE MKT: MTNB)
Neurotrope, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTRP)
Takung Art Co., Ltd. (NYSE MKT: TKAT)
Valeritas Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: VLRX)