Category Archives: Mergers & Acquisitions

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Fiduciary Duties in the Context of Dent v. Ramtron Int’l Corp.

The Delaware Court of Chancery recently addressed a number of claims commonly made in the “ubiquitous” stockholder litigation that follows announcement of a public merger or acquisition transaction.  In Dent v. Ramtron Int’l Corp., C.A. No. 7950-VCP (Del. Ch. June 30, 2014), a stockholder of Ramtron International Corp. filed suit after Ramtron was acquired by … Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Underscores Heightened Pleading Standard Necessary to Support a Claim for Breach of Fiduciary Duty In Connection With a Merger

In Houseman v. Sagerman, C.A. No. 8898-VCG, 2014 WL 1478511 (Del. Ch. Apr. 16, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Glasscock, V.C.) granted, in part, a motion to dismiss filed by certain directors and the financial advisor of Universata, Inc. (“Universata” or the “Company”) arising out of the Company’s merger with HealthPort Technologies, LLC (“HealthPort”).  … Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Grants Summary Judgment Dismissing Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims In Absence of Evidence of Directors’ “Conscious Disregard” of Fiduciary Duties

In In re Answers Corp. Shareholders Litigation, C.A. No. 6170-VCN, 2014 WL 463163 (Del. Ch. Feb. 3, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Noble, V.C.) granted summary judgment in favor of defendants in a stockholder class action for breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the merger of Answers Corporation (“Answers” or the “Company”) with … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Declines to Apply Offer-of-Judgment Rule in Appraisal Proceedings

In Huff Fund Investment Partnership v. CKx, Inc., Civil Action No. 6844-VCG, 2014 WL 545958 (Del. Ch. Feb. 12, 2014) (Glasscock, V.C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery denied a request by respondent CKx, Inc. (“CKx”) to compel the petitioning stockholder to accept the tender of an undisputed portion of the fair value of the petitioner’s … Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Applies Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing to Prohibit An Acquiring Entity From Diverting Revenues to Depress Payouts Under a Contingent Purchase Price Provision

In American Capital Acquisition Partners, LLC v. LPL Holdings, Inc., CA NO. 9490-VCG, 2014 WL 354496 (Del. Ch. Feb. 3, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery applied the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing to a merger agreement’s contingent purchase price provision.  The court held that under the implied covenant an acquiring entity … Continue Reading

When Is a Non-Binding Term Sheet or Letter of Intent Enforced as a Binding Contract?

In almost all corporate transactions, the first piece of written documentation the parties exchange and execute (after a non-disclosure agreement) is a letter of intent or term sheet (“LOI”), which is intended to summarize the main deal points. And as many corporate transactions involve entities organized in Delaware, these documents often select Delaware as the … Continue Reading

Delaware General Corporation Law Amended to Speed Up the Consummation of Two-Step Merger Transactions

The Delaware General Corporation Law, 8 Del. Code (the “DGCL”), has been amended to add a new Section 251(h) providing for, subject to certain conditions, a more expeditious and less costly closing of a two-step transaction. This new section will simplify and streamline the going private process by eliminating the need for stockholder approval in … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Finds Merger “Entirely Fair” to Common Stockholders Despite the Merger Leaving Common Stockholders With No Consideration for Their Shares

In In re Trados Inc. Shareholder Litigation, Case No. 1512-VCL, 2013 Del. Ch. LEXIS (Del. Ch. Aug. 16, 2013), Vice Chancellor Laster of the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware resolved the long-pending dispute involving the 2005 sale of Trados Inc. (“Trados”) to SDL plc for approximately $60 million. The Court held that … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Establishes Procedural Framework for Obtaining Business Judgment Review for Going Private Transaction Sponsored By Majority Stockholders

In In re MFW Shareholder Litigation, C.A. No. 6566-CS, 2013 WL 2436341 (Del. Ch. May 29, 2013), the Delaware Court of Chancery analyzed one of the most important open questions of Delaware corporate law: whether it is possible for majority stockholders to structure a going private transaction to avoid “entire fairness” review by the Court … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Decisions Highlight That a “Crucial Difference” In Analyzing Director Liability For “Bad Faith” In the Context of an M&A Sales Process Is the Seriousness of the Bidder

Two decisions earlier this year by the Delaware Court of Chancery in which the Court (Noble, V.C.) reached opposite conclusions on the divergent facts before it, serve to highlight that determining whether a bidder is “serious” in its pursuit of the target is a key factor in analyzing a target director’s liability for “bad faith” … Continue Reading

Delaware and California Courts Split as to Whether a Reverse Triangular Merger Results In an Assignment By Operation of Law, Creating Potential Pitfalls for Delaware and Other Foreign Corporations Located in California

In Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC v. Roche Diagnostics GmbH, C.A. No. 5589-VCP, 2013 WL 911118 (Del. Ch. Feb. 22, 2013, rev. Mar. 8, 2013), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a reverse triangular merger does not result in an assignment of the assets of the surviving entity by operation of law. Although the Meso … Continue Reading

Delaware Has No Per Se Rule Against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Waive” Standstill Provisions, But Boards Must be Careful in Using Them

By John Stigi, John Tishler, and Edwin Astudillo In In re Ancestry.com Inc. Shareholder Litigation, C.A. No. 7988-CS, Chancellor Strine of the Delaware Chancery Court held that Delaware has no per se rule against “don’t ask, don’t waive” standstill provisions, but cautioned that boards using “a powerful tool like that” need to deploy it consistent … Continue Reading

California Federal District Court Holds That Section 1312(a) of the California Corporations Code Provides the Exclusive Remedy For Minority Shareholders Seeking to Challenge a Proposed Merger

In Dixon v. Cost Plus, Inc., No. 12-2721, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90854 (N.D. Cal. Jun. 27, 2012), the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that Section 1312(a) of the California Corporations Code precluded plaintiff-minority shareholder’s breach of fiduciary duty claim to the extent that the claim relied upon arguments … Continue Reading

IRS Launches Voluntary Worker Reclassification Program

On September 21, 2011, the IRS announced (in Announcement 2011-64) a new program that will allow employers to resolve their worker classification problems at a relatively low cost. This new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) is available to businesses that erroneously treat their workers or a class or group of workers as nonemployees or independent … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Refuses to Permit an Action for Rescission of a Strategic Transaction, Holding That a Board Has No Duty Under California Law to Include a “Fiduciary Out”

In Monty v. Leis, 193 Cal. App. 4th 1367, 123 Cal. Rptr. 3d 641 (2011), the California Court of Appeal, Second District, affirmed the order of the California Superior Court, Santa Barbara County, denying a motion by shareholders of Pacific Capital Bancorp (“PCB”), a California corporation, for a preliminary injunction to enjoin or rescind a … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Considers Scope of Section 220 Books and Records Demand Made Where Sole Purpose Is to Investigate a Potential Derivative Suit

In Graulich v. Dell, Inc., 2011 WL 1843813 (Del. Ch. May 16, 2011), the Delaware Court of Chancery rejected a stockholder’s demand under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“Section 220”). Section 220 provides that a stockholder in a Delaware corporation may, under certain conditions, request that that corporation make available certain books and … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Considers Whether a Reverse Triangular Merger Constitutes an Assignment by Operation of Law

In Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC v. Roche Diagnostics GmbH, C.A. No. 5589-VCP (Del. Ch. Apr. 8, 2011), the Delaware Court of Chancery denied a motion to dismiss a breach of contract claim, holding that a reverse triangular merger may constitute an assignment by operation of law. In the first Delaware case to address this issue, the Court … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of a Shareholder Derivative Action Based Upon the Lack of Independence of the Special Litigation Committee

In Booth Family Trust v. Jefferies, No. 09-3443, 2011 WL 1237583 (6th Cir. Apr. 5, 2011), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court dismissal of a shareholder derivative action, holding that the special litigation committee (“SLC”) of the board of directors, which recommended the dismissal, was not sufficiently … Continue Reading

New IRS Reporting Rules for Stock Splits, Mergers and Acquisitions

Update: The IRS recently came out with a Notice (Notice 2011-18) stating that, for transactions occurring in 2011, penalties will not be imposed against issuers for missing the deadline to file a return or post the tax return on the issuer’s primary public Web site (which generally was required 45 days after the transaction), provided that the return … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Provides Further Clarification as to When the “Entire Fairness” Standard of Review is Appropriate and How It Will Be Applied

On January 14, 2011, the Delaware Chancery Court issued an opinion in In re John Q. Hammons Hotels Shareholder Litigation that a merger transaction in which a controlling stockholder received consideration different than that received by the minority stockholders met the “entire fairness” standard. This opinion followed the Court’s determination in October 2009 that “entire fairness,” … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Holds That Chancery Court Is Not Bound By Merger Price Or Fairness Opinion In Appraisal Proceedings Under Delaware General Corporate Law Section 262(h)

In Golden Telecom, Inc. v. Global GT LP, 2010 WL 5387589 (Del. Dec. 29, 2010), the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed a judgment of the Delaware Chancery Court in an appraisal proceeding under Section 262(h) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”). Section 262(h) provides that in the event of a merger, a stockholder of a Delaware … Continue Reading

Treatment of Accrued But Unused Vacation in Asset Deals

The treatment of accrued but unused vacation pay (hereinafter, referred to as "Vacation Benefits") in the context of selling a business has arisen in recent transactions involving clients advised by the firm’s Corporate Practice Group. This gives us an opportunity to remind business owners operating in California of the landscape of the rules associated with the … Continue Reading

Lower Filing Thresholds for HSR Act Premerger Notifications and Interlocking Directorates Announced

1. Lower Thresholds For HSR Filings On January 19, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, lower thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The filing thresholds are revised annually, based on the change in gross national product. For the first time, the thresholds have been reduced. They will be … Continue Reading
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