In Palkon v. Maffei, C.A. No. 2023-0449-JTL, 2024 Del. Ch. LEXIS 48 (Del. Ch. Feb. 20, 2024) (Laster, V.C.) the Delaware Court of Chancery considered whether a controlling stockholder’s approval of transactions reincorporating two Delaware corporations in Nevada is subject to entire fairness review where there was a lack of procedural protections that would give the approval of the transactions the patina of arms-length bargaining. Because the stockholders’ derivative complaint contained allegations that (if true) established that the disputed transactions adversely affected investor protections, the Court of Chancery applied the inherently-factual “entire fairness” standard of review and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.Continue Reading Delaware Corporations Must Employ Procedural Safeguards When Approving a Reincorporation that Could Benefit a Controlling Stockholder to Avoid Entire Fairness Standard of Review

In Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC, 601 U. S. ____, 2024 WL 478566 (2024), the United States Supreme Court (Sotomayor, J.) held that whistleblowers do not need to prove their employer acted with “retaliatory intent” to be protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Instead, all whistleblower plaintiffs need to prove is that their protected activity was a “contributing factor” in the employer’s unfavorable personnel action. The decision establishes a lower burden of proof for whistleblowers alleging retaliation and, conversely, reaffirms a greater burden on employers who must demonstrate the absence of retaliation under the heightened “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard in order to prevail.Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Endorses Low Burden of Proof for Whistleblowers

In Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. v. Ainslie, No. 162, 2023, 2024 WL 315193 (Del. Jan. 29, 2024), the Delaware Supreme Court held enforceable a “forfeiture for competition” provision in a limited partnership agreement, upholding “the freedom of contract” and enforcing “as a matter of fundamental public policy the voluntary agreements of sophisticated parties.” Given Delaware’s recent shift from its typically non-compete friendly stance, the Delaware Supreme Court’s ruling is beneficial for employers.Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Enforces Forfeiture for Competition Provision in Partnership Agreement

1. Higher Jurisdictional Thresholds For HSR Filings

On January 22, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, higher thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act). The jurisdictional thresholds are revised annually, based on the change in Gross National Product (GNP).Continue Reading Higher Jurisdictional and Filing Fees Thresholds for HSR Act Premerger Notifications and Interlocking Directorates Announced

The United States Department of the Treasury has announced that it is working to address what it perceives as money laundering risks associated with investment advisers. Specifically, the agency asserts that absent consistent and comprehensive anti-money laundering (“AML”) and countering the financing of terrorism (“CFT”) obligations, corrupt officials and other illicit actors may invest ill-gotten gains in the U.S. financial system through hedge funds and private equity firms. Treasury indicated its intention to issue a proposal in the first quarter of 2024 that would apply Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) AML/CFT requirements, including suspicious activity report obligations, to certain investment advisers.Continue Reading Treasury Announces Renewed Push for Investment Adviser AML Rules

In Segway Inc. v. Hong Cai, 2023 Del. Ch. LEXIS 643 (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2023), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Will, V.C.) dismissed a claim for breach of fiduciary duty brought by Segway Inc. (the “Company”) against its former President and Vice President of Finance (the “Officer”). The Company framed its claim as a claim for breach of the duty of oversight, commonly known as a Caremark claim (from the landmark case In re Caremark Int’l Inc. Derivative Litigation, 698 A.2d 959 (Del. Ch. 1996)). Continue Reading The Delaware Court of Chancery Confirms that Duty of Oversight Claims Against Corporate Officers Are Subject to the Same High Pleading Standards Applicable to Duty of Oversight Claims Against Corporate Directors

On December 18, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (the “Agencies”) jointly issued Final Merger Guidelines, following a public comment period on the Proposed Merger Guidelines first issued in July. The Final Merger Guidelines update and replace the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines and the rescinded 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines. The Final Merger Guidelines kept important components from the Proposed Merger Guidelines (e.g., lower thresholds rendering certain transactions presumptively illegal, focus on cumulative effects of multiple acquisitions, etc.). Among the most significant developments from prior iterations of the merger guidelines are the adoption of a market share threshold in determining when a transaction is presumed to be illegal, expansion of the concept of vertical mergers to include mergers involving “related” products or services, and formal espousal of the current Administration’s focus on the impact of mergers on labor.Continue Reading The Wait is Over: DOJ and FTC Issue Final Merger Guidelines

In Briskin v. Shopify, Inc., No. 22-15815, 2023 WL 8225346 (9th Cir. Nov. 28, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Canada-based company Shopify, Inc. (“Shopify”), which provides a web-based payment processing platform to online merchants across the United States (and the world), is not subject to specific personal jurisdiction in California courts under California data privacy laws based solely upon Shopify’s collection, retention and use of customer data from California residents. In making this ruling, the Ninth Circuit became the first Circuit in the nation to address this type of personal jurisdiction question involving a global online payment platform.Continue Reading In a Case of First Impression, Ninth Circuit Addresses Personal Jurisdiction Issues Involving Non-Resident Corporation Providing a Web-Based Payment Processing Platform

In Roth v. Foris Ventures, LLC, Nos. 22-16632, 22-16633, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 30081 (9th Cir. Nov. 13, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit seeking to recover disgorgement of short-swing profits under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78p(b). The three-judge panel held that the district court erred in holding that the company’s board was required to approve the stock sale transactions for the specific purpose of exempting it from Section 16(b) liability pursuant to Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Rule 16b-3(d)(1). The Court’s decision provides a board of directors with more latitude to approve securities transactions by Section 16 reporting persons without risk of liability under the short-swing profits rule.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Provides Guidance on SEC Rule 16b-3 Short-Swing Profit Liability Exemption

California has passed two new items of legislation, Senate Bill 699 and Assembly Bill 1076, which will further regulate and restrict the enforcement of employment non-compete agreements in California, and expand the scope of remedies for those affected by them. These new laws will become effective on January 1, 2024, and now is the time for employers to assess and revise their employment-related agreements and restrictive covenants accordingly. As detailed below, they also require employers to notify employees and certain former employees by February 15, 2024 that certain non-compete provisions are void. The two new laws are detailed below.Continue Reading California Strengthens Non-Competition Law

In Securities & Exchange Commission v. Govil, No. 22-1658, 2023 WL 7137291 (2d Cir. Oct. 31, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dealt a setback to the enforcement agenda of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) by limiting its ability to seek disgorgement under 15 U.S.C. § 78u(d)(5) and (7) to situations in which the regulator can demonstrate investors have suffered pecuniary harm.Continue Reading Second Circuit Reins in SEC Disgorgement Powers