The American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) requires the full cost of COBRA premiums to be subsidized for COBRA continuation coverage during the period from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 (“Subsidy Period”) of certain assistance-eligible individuals (“AEI“) whose COBRA qualifying event was due to an involuntary termination or reduction in hours. Our prior blog post, COBRA Premium Assistance Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – What Employers Should Know, provides information about the ARPA COBRA subsidy and associated notice requirements. ARPA also required employers to comply with certain notice obligations, first at the outset of the Subsidy Period to make the AEIs aware of the subsidy, and now to inform AEIs that the subsidy is nearing expiration through what is known as the Notice of Expiration of Period of Premium Assistance (“Expiration Notice”).

Continue Reading Reminder: ARPA COBRA Subsidy Expiration Notice Due by September 15

On August 6, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Rule (Nasdaq Stock Market LLC Rules 5605(f) and 5606), which requires listed companies to have at least two diverse board members or to explain their failure to meet the requirement, with some exceptions.  The Board Diversity Rule also requires companies to publish statistics on the diversity of their board members.  The rule is intended to increase transparency into the diversity of corporate boards, giving investors more information to consider when deciding which companies are worthy of investment.  As investors have increasingly voiced concern over enhanced diversity in corporate leadership, the Board Diversity Rule may not only increase board transparency, but also cause Nasdaq-listed companies to increase board diversity.

Continue Reading SEC Approves Nasdaq Diversity Rule

Many have been wondering when FTC and DOJ will resume granting early termination of the HSR waiting period in deals that present no anticompetitive concerns.  Early termination does not appear to be coming back anytime soon.

Continue Reading FTC, Under Pressure from “Tidal Wave” of HSR Filings, To Begin Issuing Close-At-Your-Own-Risk Letters

In Securities & Exchange Comm’n v. Fowler, No. 20-1081, 2021 WL 3083655 (2d Cir. July 22, 2021), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court judgment awarding the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) civil penalties, disgorgement, and injunctive relief in a securities fraud action against a broker engaged in unsuitable and unauthorized high-frequency trading.  The district court entered its judgment following a jury trial finding the defendant guilty of violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, and Sections 17(a)(1), 17(a)(2), and 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933.  On appeal, defendant asserted that the action was subject to a five-year statute of limitations imposed by 28 U.S.C. § 2462 despite the parties having entered into tolling agreements.  Defendant also argued that the civil penalties assessed against him were excessive, and the disgorgement award failed to properly account for legitimate business expenses as required by Liu v. Securities & Exchange Comm’n, 140 S. Ct. 1936 (2020).  After reviewing its text and legislative history, the Second Circuit concluded in this matter of first impression that § 2462 is non-jurisdictional and, therefore, the district court had the power to hear the case in light of the parties’ tolling agreements.  The decision is important because it reaffirms the enforceability of tolling agreements between the SEC and its investigative quarries.  The court also rejected defendant’s arguments alleging improper civil penalty and disgorgement calculations.

Continue Reading Second Circuit Upholds Enforceability of SEC Tolling Agreements

On July 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 150 into law, allowing certain owners of passthrough entities to find a way around the current $10,000 federal cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions for individuals.  The new law, applicable to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2021 and ending before January 1, 2026, allows for many partnerships, limited liability companies taxed as partnerships, and S-Corporations to pay an entity level tax based on electing individual owners’ share of income, and then grants the owners a credit against California personal income tax for the full amount of tax paid at the entity level on their distributive share of California taxable income.

Continue Reading California Passes “Workaround” To Federal Limit on State Tax Deduction For Certain Owners of Pass-Through Entities

In Coster v. UIP Companies, Inc., No. 49-2020, 2021 WL 2644094 (Del. June 28, 2021), the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a Court of Chancery ruling, No. 2018-0440-KSJM, 2020 WL 429906 (Del. Ch. Jan. 28, 2020) (McCormick, V.C.), that members of a board of directors did not breach their fiduciary duties when they approved a transaction with an “inequitable purpose” because the process and substance of the transaction were “entirely fair” to the aggrieved stockholder.  The Court held that even though the board’s action passed Delaware’s rigorous “entire fairness” review, the Court of Chancery should have further considered whether the board acted for inequitable reasons or for the primary purpose of interfering with the stockholder’s statutory or voting rights.  As the Supreme Court explained, “inequitable action does not become permissible simply because it is legally possible.”  Coster provides an important reminder to board members that ensuring a transaction is “entirely fair” does not necessarily shield directors from liability if the directors acted in bad faith or for the “primary purpose of thwarting” a stockholder’s franchise rights.

Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Holds That Surviving “Entire Fairness” Review is Not Conclusive of a Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Where Directors Acted Inequitably

In Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertsons Companies, Inc., 2021 WL 2311455 (Del. Ch. June 7, 2021), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Slights, V.C.) provided key guidance on mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) earnout disputes regarding contractual earnout language, the applicability of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, extra-contractual discussions and promises and post-closing behavior of the acquirer.  This opinion serves as a reminder to M&A transaction parties on important drafting concepts in earnouts, as well as how to conduct themselves during the negotiations and earnout period.
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Decision Provides Guidance on M&A Earnouts

In Van Buren v. United States, No. 19-783, 2021 WL 2229206 (U.S. June 3, 2021), the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion drastically limiting the application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) (18 U.S.C. § 1030 et seq.), holding that the “exceeds authorized access” clause of the Act applies only to those who obtain information from particular areas in the computer—such as files, folders, or databases—to which the individual is not authorized to access under any circumstances. However, the Supreme Court excluded application of the clause to individuals who misuse their access to obtain information otherwise available to them for an unauthorized purpose. The Court’s Van Buren decision resolves a long-standing circuit split over the meaning of this key phase of the CFAA, and simultaneously creates new challenges for employers seeking to hold liable employees who misuse company information to the employer’s detriment.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split Over CFAA

This article originally published on Food Manufacturing.com on June 1.

2020 was an up-and-down year for mergers and acquisitions in the food and beverage industry.  With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year, deal making activity was largely put on hold.  In the second half of the year, however, M&A activity resumed in force such that the total number of food and beverage transactions for 2020 actually ended up slightly exceeding 2019.  And with private equity firms sitting on a large amount of cash that needs to be deployed and strong corporate balance sheets for strategic buyers, 2021 looks like it should be a banner year for food & beverage M&A.  However, buying and selling food & beverage companies presents a unique set of challenges.  This article provides an overview of certain legal considerations for parties engaging in M&A transactions in this sector to be aware of with the goal of providing actionable advice to maximize value.
Continue Reading Keys to Maximizing Value in Food & Beverage M&A Transactions

During a May 19, 2021 webcast at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (“FINRA”) annual conference, Amy Sochard, FINRA’s Vice President of Advertising Regulation, indicated that the organization will seek public feedback on gamification practices utilized by some stock trading platforms to attract investors with a view toward issuing new rules or guidance.  “Gamification” refers to the application of typical elements of game playing, such as point scoring, competition with others, and rules of play, by trading platforms, online retailers or vendors to encourage engagement with a product or service.
Continue Reading Game On: FINRA Hints at Upcoming Gamification Sweep