In Wake of Groupon Issues, Critics Wary of JOBS Act

A little-noticed provision in the new JOBS Act would allow companies to iron out disagreements with regulators behind closed doors before they go public — a provision that might have prevented investors from finding out about Groupon Inc.’s early accounting questions until after they had been resolved.

The provision, part of the bill passed by Congress and expected to be signed by President Barack Obama this week, would enable companies to submit confidential drafts of their initial-public-offering documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission before they file publicly.

Critics say that measure would allow a company like Groupon, which had well-publicized disagreements with the SEC over its accounting last year, to resolve such issues under the radar, without investors learning of them until later although still before any IPO.

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