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

All states but one that impose a sales and use tax now have laws requiring out-of-state companies to collect tax if they have a significant economic presence in a state.  The Governor of Missouri, the last remaining state, is expected to sign a similar law this month.  The change stems from a 2018 United States Supreme Court case, the impact of which is far broader than many realize.
Continue Reading The Expanded Reach of States for Sales & Use Tax Purposes – More Than Just e-Commerce Retailers are Impacted

On May 13th, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved  and sent on to the full Senate the “Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2021.” The Bill, sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley, and approved with bipartisan support, would raise the filing fees under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act for large mergers and would require the fees to be adjusted annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. (Currently, the HSR Act’s size-of-person and size-of-transaction tests are adjusted annually, but not the filing fees.)
Continue Reading HSR Filing Fees For Large Acquisitions May Be Increased

In Ford v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 12008 (8th Cir. Apr. 23, 2021), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a
Continue Reading Eighth Circuit Holds Rule 23(b)(3)’s Predominance Requirement Not Met in Securities Fraud Action Against Brokerage Firm

On April 29, 2021 Governor Newsom signed California A.B. 80, largely conforming to Federal rules relating to deductibility of expenses paid with funds from forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.  The $150,000 limitation in prior versions of A.B. 80 was removed, and replaced with a requirement that only non-publicly traded companies who reported losses of at least 25% in gross receipts during one quarter of 2020 can deduct such expenses.  That 25% decrease in gross receipts was also a condition for receiving a PPP loan in the second round of loans made available in late 2020.  Publicly traded companies cannot deduct any amount of expenses paid with funds from forgiven PPP loans.

Continue Reading California Largely (But Not Fully) Conforms to Deductibility of Expenses Paid with Forgiven PPP Loans

In Ocegueda v. Zuckerberg, No. 20-CV-04444, 2021 WL 1056611 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2021), the United States District Court for the Northern District of California became the first court
Continue Reading Facebook Defeats Shareholder Suit Challenging Alleged Failures In Its Diversity and Inclusion Practices

During a March 9, 2021 industry conference, one of the four current U.S. Securities and Exchange (“SEC”) commissioners floated a new approach to calculating penalties for corporate misconduct.  Caroline A. Crenshaw, who was tapped by President Donald Trump last June to fill one of the Democratic slots on the Commission, told attendees at the Council of Institutional Investors virtual conference that the SEC needed to revisit its approach to assessing corporate penalties, and implement a new approach that tailored penalties to the “egregiousness of the actual misconduct,” accounted for all benefits of the misconduct that accrued to the corporation, and eliminated consideration of potential adverse impacts on shareholders.  If ultimately accepted by the Commission, Crenshaw’s proposed approach would likely result in materially greater penalties for corporate misconduct.
Continue Reading SEC Commissioner Calls for a Brave New Approach to Corporate Penalties

A recent decision by a New York federal district court illustrates significant potential pitfalls for sellers in leveraged buyouts and similarly structured transactions.  In particular, it highlights the potential risks under fiduciary duty theories to directors and private equity-appointed directors, even in multi-step transactions with customary disclaimers and exculpatory by-laws.
Continue Reading Sellers Beware: Fiduciary Duty Risks to Directors