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Rule Change to Help Smaller Companies Rais

The revisions in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Rule 144, which governs the sale of so-called restricted securities, affect companies with annual revenues of less than $700 million, and take effect on Feb. 15.

Restricted securities are shares or bonds sold in private placements, usually at a discount of about 10 percent from the market price; the securities cannot be registered immediately with the S.E.C. Under current rules, investors must wait one year to sell, and then usually only in stages of a specified number each quarter for the year after that.

Under the changes, which were approved by the commission on Nov. 15 and are retroactive, the investors must wait only six months to sell the securities, and can part with them all at once.

“The changes will likely make private placements by smaller publicly traded companies much more attractive to investors,” said David Danovitch, a partner at the Manhattan law firm of Gersten Savage who specializes in securities laws. “When the credit markets tighten, people run to the equity markets, and

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