FILE PHOTO: The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 12, 2021. Picture taken May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
June 14, 2021
By Chris Prentice and Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday tapped a new chief to lead a unit tasked with overseeing public company disclosures as the agency moves to address rising calls for greater transparency from companies about environmental, social and governance issues.
Renee Jones, recently an associate dean at Boston College Law School, will become director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance on June 21, the SEC said in a statement. Before her career in academia, Jones was an attorney with Hill & Barlow law firm.
The appointment puts Jones in a critical role overseeing a unit already heavily involved with the SEC’s efforts to update regulations around climate risk disclosures and tasked with approving filings for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, at a time of increasing scrutiny of the shell companies.
The SEC’s division of corporation finance has been reviewing public company disclosures around climate risks, an issue that has gained increasing attention from regulators. SEC Chair Gary Gensler, who took the helm at the agency in April, has said rulemaking around climate risk will be a key focus.
The unit has also been ramping up focus on SPACs, which have become a popular method for companies to go public. Jones has called for regulatory changes to SPACs to better protect investors.
Analysts also expect her to help oversee the agency’s efforts to reverse a 20-year decline in U.S. public company listings by making it harder for companies to tap private sources of capital.
The unit’s current acting head, John Coates, will become SEC general counsel, also effective June 21, the statement said. Coates, previously a professor at Harvard University, has been leading the division of corporation finance since February.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice and Katanga JohnsonEditing by Will Dunham and Alistair Bell)