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In High River Limited Partnership v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., C.A. No. 2019-0403-JRS, 2019 WL 6040285 (Del. Ch. Nov. 14, 2019) (Slights, V.C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a stockholder’s mere disagreement with a business decision of a board of directors and intent to pursue a bone fide proxy contest is not a “proper purpose” to support a demand to inspect the corporation’s books and records under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, 8 Del. C. § 220. By declining the stockholder’s invitation to adopt a “new rule entitling stockholders to inspection documents under Section 220 if they can show a credible basis that the information sought would be material in the prosecution of a proxy contest,” this decision clarifies what had been a “murky” legal landscape under Section 220.
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Holds that a Stockholder’s Disagreement with a Board’s Business Judgment and Intent to Pursue a Proxy Contest is Not a “Proper Purpose” for a Section 220 Demand

On August 8, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced that it voted to propose rule amendments to modernize the description of business, legal proceedings, and risk factor disclosures that public companies are required to make pursuant to Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Continue Reading SEC Looks to Modernize Disclosure Approach

On February 6, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission released two Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (CDIs) discussing disclosure requirements in instances where a director or board nominee self-identifies specific diversity characteristics, such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation and cultural background.
Continue Reading SEC Issues New Guidance on Diversity Disclosure Requirements

Public reporting companies that have material weaknesses in their internal control over financial reporting (“ICFR”) are required under Rule 308 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, to report such material weaknesses in their quarterly and annual reports along with proposed remedial measures. A material weakness is defined as a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of an issuer’s financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
Continue Reading SEC Administrative Proceedings Against Public Companies for Failure to Remediate Material Weaknesses in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, 8 Del. C. § 220, provides that any stockholder of a Delaware corporation “shall, upon written demand under oath stating the purpose thereof, have the right during the usual hours for business to inspect for any proper purpose, and to make copies and extracts from . . . the corporation’s stock ledger, a list of its stockholders, and its other books and records.”  Whether emails and other electronically stored information (“ESI”) created and maintained by the corporation constitute “other books and records” within the meaning of Section 220 has been a matter of some uncertainty.  Recent decisions from the Delaware Courts provide useful guidance to practitioners on this question.
Continue Reading Delaware Courts Address Production of Emails and Other Electronically Stored Information In Response to Section 220 Demands

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) adopted amendments to the definition of “smaller reporting company” which expand the number of companies that qualify as smaller reporting companies and can thereby take advantage of the scaled disclosure requirements applicable to such companies. The amendments to the definition of “smaller reporting company” will be effective on September 10, 2018.
Continue Reading SEC Expands the Definition of “Smaller Reporting Company”

On May 24, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act, which primarily focuses on rolling back certain regulatory provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, also contained a significant change in the law for companies looking to undertake securities offerings in reliance on the revamped Regulation A (commonly referred to as “Regulation A+”) under the Securities Act of 1933.
Continue Reading New Law Requires SEC to Expand Regulation A+ To Exchange Act Reporting Companies

On October 23, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (“PCAOB”) proposal to adopt a new auditing standard, AS 3101. AS 3101 will require auditors to disclose more detailed information about what they learn during the course of an audit. This new auditing standard requires a major revision in how auditors think about what and how they communicate to boards and investors. It requires increased transparency on the part of auditors.
Continue Reading SEC Approves New Audit Reporting Standard Requiring Auditors to Disclose More Detailed Information Learned During the Audit