Australian Small Scale Offerings Board
The Australian Small Scale Offerings Board (ASSOB) is a crowdfunding facility for small businesses in Australia (often referred to as the SME sector) to raise equity finance. It differs from the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and the National Stock Exchange in a few key ways:
- Most capital raisings on ASSOB occur under the provisions of section 708 of the Corporations Act (explained below)
- While ASSOB has a secondary market, it is not an exchange with active market-makers constantly buying and selling shares
- Listing costs and compliance costs are substantially reduced
Capital raising in Australia is strictly regulated under the federal Corporations Act. The intention is to protect investors, and for this reason, most approaches to investors require expensive and comprehensive prospectuses registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the government regulator. Company directors assume significant legal responsibilities when make investment offers to the public.
Section 708 of the Corporations Act allows small fund raising without the need to register a prospectus. Funds raised are limited to $2m and the offer can not be marketed. Further, only a small number of investors can participate.
ASSOB operates in this area of the law, but has permission to raise up to $5m, and to allow registered brokers to assume some legal responsibilities associated with the offer, and the Section 708 restrictions on advertising a small-scale offer are relaxed. ASIC provides this via Class Order 02/273 applicable to section 708
In the spectrum of financing opportunities available to small business, ASSOB offers a marketing channel to inform potential investors of the offer, and a secondary market.
Because of the risky nature of equity finance, and because most ASSOB listings sell only a minority share, investors are looking for opportunities with high upside. ASSOB is therefore usually considered most appropriate for businesses with convincing high-growth potential.