What You Need to Know About Mergers and Acquisitions Involving Government Contractors and Their Suppliers

Volume VII—Investing in Small Businesses

Numerous government contracts programs support small businesses.  There are prime contracts set aside for various categories of small business entities.  Agencies have small business contracting goals and take them very seriously.  Prime contractors often are incentivized, through evaluation factors, to propose significant small business participation.  They can also face liquidated damages for failing to make good faith efforts to comply with their small business subcontracting plans.  These programs promote economic growth by incentivizing investment in small business entities.

The primary obstacle to investing in small businesses, from a government contracts perspective, is that it is quite easy to lose small business size status as the result of a corporate transaction.  The difficulties arise from the doctrine of “affiliation.”

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SEC Proposes Amendments to Update and Simplify Disclosure Requirements as Part of Overall Disclosure Effectiveness Review

On July 13, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced proposed amendments in order to update and simplify its disclosure requirements.  The SEC’s proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) can be found here.

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SEC Steps Up Cybersecurity Enforcement with $1 Million Fine Against Morgan Stanley

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) recent $1 million settlement with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“MSSB”) marked a turning point in the agency’s focus on cybersecurity issues, an area that the agency has proclaimed a top enforcement priority in recent years.  The MSSB settlement addressed various cybersecurity deficiencies that led to the misappropriation of sensitive data for approximately 730,000 customer accounts.

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Tenth Circuit Upholds Nevada Law By Denying Stockholders Standing to Bring Claims on Behalf of Nevada Corporation

In In re Zagg Inc. Shareholder Derivative Action, No. 15-4001, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 11095 (10th Cir. June 20, 2016), the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that stockholders of a Utah-based, Nevada corporation, who failed to make pre-suit demand that the corporation’s board of directors cause the corporation to file claims against past and present directors (including one-half of the corporation’s board of directors), could not litigate those claims derivatively.  The Court rested its decision on Nevada’s exculpation statute, Nev. Rev. Stat. § 78.138(7), which protects directors and officers of Nevada corporations from personal liability to the corporation when the statute’s requirements are met.  According to the Court, the complaint did not plead a non-exculpated claim, and so did not show that the current directors faced a risk of liability sufficient to render them self-interested such that a pre-suit demand on the board would have been futile.  Hence, the lack of pre-suit demand required dismissal.  The decision confirms the extensive personal liability protection Nevada affords officers and directors of Nevada corporations.  It also illustrates how, by broadly limiting director and officer liability, Nevada further allocates to boards of directors (as opposed to stockholders) the power to control the corporation’s decision to litigate.

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Maximum Civil Penalties for HSR Violations to Increase to $40,000 per Day

For parties considering a merger or other transaction, the civil penalties for failing to comply with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (“HSR Act”) are about to increase significantly.

On June 29, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission announced that the maximum civil penalty for noncompliance with the premerger filing requirements of the HSR Act will increase from $16,000 per day to $40,000 per day, effective August 1, 2016.  The current maximum penalty of $16,000 per day has been in place since 2009.  Prior to 2009, the maximum penalty was $11,000 per day.

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California Court of Appeal Confirms that Corporations Code § 1601 Does Not Require Corporations to Ship Records Maintained Out of State to California

In Innes v. Diablo Controls, Inc., Case No., A145528, 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 475 (Cal. App. June 16, 2016), the California Court of Appeal, First District, affirmed that California Corporations Code § 1601, which permits shareholders to demand inspection of “[t]he accounting books and records and minutes of proceedings of the shareholders and the board and committees of the board” of corporations in California, does not require a corporation to make those records available at any particular location.  The records need only be made available for inspection at the office where the records are usually maintained.  This holding confirms that corporations are not required to ship records normally stored out of state to California in response to a demand under Section 1601.

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What You Need to Know About Mergers and Acquisitions Involving Government Contractors and Their Suppliers

Volume VI —Organizational Conflicts of Interest:  When the Whole Is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

An organizational conflict of interest (“OCI”) arises when the performance of one contract undermines a contractor’s objectivity or creates an unfair competitive advantage with respect to another contract.  An agency cannot issue an award to a contractor that possesses an OCI unless that OCI has been avoided, mitigated, or waived.  Many government contracts include clauses that require contractors to avoid potential OCIs, to notify the Government of any OCIs that arise after award, and to work with the Government to mitigate any such OCIs.  Some contracts also avoid OCIs proactively by precluding the contractor from performing specific types of work.

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Delaware Chancery Court Rejects MBO Merger Price as Best Evidence of Fair Value in Appraisal Proceeding

In In re Appraisal of Dell Inc., No. 9322 VCL, 2016 Del. Ch. LEXIS 81 (Del. Ch. May 31, 2016) (Laster, V.C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery determined that the fair value of the common stock of Dell Inc. (“Dell” or the “Company”) as of the effective date of a 2012 management buyout (“MBO”) was $17.62 per share, or $3.74 per share more than the merger consideration of $13.75 per share plus a $0.13 special dividend.  Although Dell’s directors properly discharged their fiduciary duties, and the sale process included a go-shop period that triggered a bidding contest, according to the Court, the MBO underpriced the Company by more than $5 billion.  Notably, the factors responsible for this divergence included limitations inherent in any MBO-driven sale process.  The Court relied entirely on a discounted cash flow (“DCF”) analysis to determine fair value.  The decision likely will further increase the frequency in which stockholders of Delaware corporations pursue statutory appraisal rights, particularly in the MBO context.

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What You Need to Know About Mergers and Acquisitions Involving Government Contractors and Their Suppliers

Volume V —The Land Mines Strewn Throughout the Data Room

M&A transactions, like most transactions in life, involve a cost/benefit analysis.  Some cost/benefit analyses are relatively easy to perform.  For example, if I buy an energy efficient appliance, I can calculate the likely savings in energy costs over the useful life of the appliance (the benefit) and compare it with the acquisition cost of the appliance (the cost).  M&A transactions, of course, involve far more complex cost/benefit analyses.  But the key to any such analysis is the ability to identify and quantify the costs and benefits with some measure of confidence.  Every line of business has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies, and they need to be understood when evaluating the acquisition of a company that operates in that line.  More than most, the business of government contracting is replete with such quirks and idiosyncrasies, and they can have a dramatic effect on the “cost” side of the cost/benefit analysis.

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What You Need to Know About Mergers and Acquisitions Involving Government Contractors and Their Suppliers

Volume IV – Key Issues in Government Contracts Due Diligence

This posting is the fourth in our ten-part series on unique issues that arise in connection with mergers and acquisitions involving government contractors and subcontractors.  Parts 1 through 3 focused on the structure of the transaction and the implications of that structure on the transfer of pending contracts and proposals.  This posting, Part 4, introduces some of the most important issues that potential buyers should consider and address during the due diligence and negotiation process.  The posting is not intended to be a detailed “due diligence checklist,” but rather a high level overview of certain key factors that are likely to impact the “go/no go” decision and the buyer’s valuation of the target company.

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