SEC to adopt rules requiring hyperlinks for corporate exhibits

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Public companies will be required to make it easier for investors to locate exhibits attached to their corporate financial filings by including hyperlinks, under a new rule slated for adoption on Wednesday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The new rule is widely viewed as a common sense measure that is long overdue, and it is not expected to spark any controversy among the SEC's two commissioners, Acting Republican Chairman Mike Piwowar and Democrat Kara Stein. Under current rules, companies are required to provide a list of exhibits, such as their bylaws and underwriting agreements and where they can be located. But without hyperlinks, it can be hard for investors to quickly and easily locate the documents.

The final hyperlink rule, which is slated to take effect in September, is among a raft of other proposals unveiled Wednesday, with most geared toward modernizing how public companies disclose information to investors. One such proposal, for instance, updates 30-year-old guidance to the banking sector on certain disclosures.

A second proposal, meanwhile, would require companies to use inline XBRL, an open source software designed to make it easier to view, navigate and search financial data. Companies already use XBRL, a software that labels financial statements with computer-readable tags that can be read like barcodes. By requiring inline XBRL, companies will then embed that structured data into the financial statements.

In addition to the various disclosure proposals, the SEC also proposed a measure that would require brokers who underwrite municipal bonds to ask municipalities for additional disclosures related to bank loans and other financial obligations.