Acquisition agreements in M&A transactions frequently include provision for payment to be made at closing based on estimates of certain financial metrics that are later subject to a purchase price adjustment based on a final determination (referred to as a “true-up”) within a few months following closing. These metrics may include a target’s cash, debt, unpaid transaction expenses and working capital (excluding cash), and sometimes others. The definitions that correspond to these items, and what particular items are included or excluded from each, are often the product of significant negotiation, as the final purchase price can move materially up or down based on their final determination. The process of finally determining the adjustment amount following the closing can also reveal differences in the buyer’s and seller’s interpretation of accounting principles applicable to the purchase price adjustment calculation, or how those principles apply to the target’s financial statements. These differences can become a source of post-closing conflict between buyer and seller, at a time when the parties are working through transitional issues, and when the sellers may have ongoing involvement in the business. Parties will want to resolve these disputes quickly and in a cost-effective manner. To accomplish these objectives, often the purchase agreement will require that the parties submit unresolved issues to an independent accountant for final resolution. A key consideration in such referral will be the role that the accountant will play in resolving the dispute. Will the accountant act as an arbitrator or as an expert? This is an important distinction that deserves careful consideration by both sides. By engaging an accountant to act as an expert and not an arbitrator, the parties limit the scope of the accountant’s review and avoid the formalities of an arbitration.Continue Reading Expert or Arbitrator? Resolving Purchase Price Adjustment Disputes

On August 9, 2023, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) ordering the issuance of outbound investment restrictions. This E.O. comes after nearly a year of anticipation (as we have documented on several occasions over the past year). This is the start of the reverse Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process that has been mostly speculation (and blog articles) until yesterday. In conjunction, the Treasury Department issued a press release, fact sheet, and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking comments from the public on the proposed restrictions by September 28.Continue Reading New Outbound Investment Restrictions Affect China, Semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Computing

On August 1, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) released a new Form I-9. An I-9 form is used to verify work authorization for new hires and a limited number of existing employees. The previous I-9 was issued in 2019 and expires on October 31, 2023. Continue Reading DHS Releases New Form I-9 and Video Verification Procedure: Guidance and Checklists for Busy Employers

On May 25, 2023, the Texas Legislature enacted the biggest structural change to the Texas court system in recent memory. House Bill 19 (“HB 19”)—signed by Governor Greg Abbott in June—creates a new “Business Court” system for the Lone Star State. HB 19’s passage comes after four previous legislative efforts to enact a business court system in Texas failed. Texas’s Business Courts will activate on September 1, 2024, and will handle complex commercial disputes with significant amounts in controversy. The purpose is to create an efficient, specialized court for complex, high-value commercial disputes needing timely resolutions—matters that could otherwise languish in overworked district courts with broad dockets that include, among other things, criminal, personal injury, and family law cases. Ideally, specialized business courts also promote consistent interpretations of commercial laws and contracts, thereby leading to more predictable outcomes. Texas is now the 31st state to adopt a business court system of this kind.Continue Reading Texas Revolution: State Legislature Creates New Business Court System to Handle Significant Commercial Disputes

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced on July 21, 2023 they will publish a revised version of Form I-9 on August 1, 2023. DHS also announced an enhanced remote verification flexibility using video for E-Verify employers, both for clean-up of I-9s created during the pandemic and going forward.Continue Reading DHS Announces New Form I-9 and Remote Verification for E-Verify Employers

On July 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) jointly published long-anticipated proposed merger guidelines (the “Proposed Merger Guidelines”), which had been expected since President Biden issued an Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy in the summer of 2021. According to the agencies, the Proposed Merger Guidelines “build upon, expand, and clarify” the prior guidance,[1] to keep up with “modern” market realities.[2] In contrast to the previous versions, the Proposed Merger Guidelines cover both horizontal and vertical mergers. They also cite case law for the first time.[3] Reflecting the Biden Administration’s views on federal antitrust merger enforcement, the Proposed Merger Guidelines substantially expand the types of competitive harm the agencies consider grounds for challenging a transaction under Section 7 of the Clayton Act (which prohibits mergers where the effect is “substantially to lessen competition” or “to tend to create a monopoly”).[4]Continue Reading A Big Deal: FTC and DOJ Issue Long-Awaited New Draft Merger Guidelines

In Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc., No. 2021-0202, — A.3d —-, 2023 WL 4364524 (Del. Ch. July 6, 2023) (McCormick, C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed the circumstances under which the Court will award a shareholder plaintiff attorneys’ fees in disclosure-based deal litigation. In particular, Anderson analyzed the history of disclosure-based deal litigation in Delaware and the Court’s evolving standard for awarding fees where shareholder action has caused a company to issue additional pre-merger disclosures “mooting” pending deal litigation. Prior to the decision in Anderson, the state of the law was unsettled. The first line of cases would award fees as long as the shareholder plaintiff secured additional disclosures that were “helpful” such that they provided “some benefit” to shareholders. The second line of cases, however, adopted a stricter standard requiring that the supplemental disclosures be “plainly material.” In an effort to combat the so-called “deal tax” associated with disclosure-based merger litigation, Anderson comes out in favor of the stricter standard. Going forward, the Court will only award disclosure-based mootness fees when the complaining shareholder obtains additional disclosures that are “plainly material” to the shareholders. Companies, boards and advisors engaging in M&A transactions should pay attention to this decision as it will weigh on the proper strategy for approaching a shareholder challenge to an M&A transaction. Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Clarifies Heightened Standard for Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees in Disclosure-Based Deal Litigation

The term “Acqui-hire” is commonly used to describe an M&A transaction where the buyer is predominantly interested in acquiring key employees of the target and not specifically the underlying business and/or assets. This type of transaction is particularly common in the technology and software industries, where key talent can often be more valuable than the underlying product or service, although it has become more prevalent in other industries as well. For the target employees and founders, such an acquisition may represent a “soft landing” in the event that they find that their organization won’t scale in the way that was previously imagined or if their funding sources have dried up.Continue Reading What You Need to Know about Acqui-Hires

In a blog earlier this year, we discussed the Delaware Chancery Court’s refusal to enforce a sale of business non-compete in Kodiak Building Partners, LLC v Adams. We wondered then whether Kodiak represented a one-off decision or whether it augured a trend that might give buyers of businesses pause. Delaware courts seem to have answered the question. In what constitutes a notable trend for buyers of businesses, Delaware courts have twice more refused to enforce non-competes under a sale of a business analysis. Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Delaware Courts Continue to Refuse to Enforce Deal-Based Non-Competes

The FTC announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”)[1] proposing extensive revisions to both the rules that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (the “Act” or “HSR Act”), and the Premerger Notification and Report Form (the “Form”) that merging parties must submit under the Act. The NPRM would also implement the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022. Continue Reading Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: FTC Proposes to Redesign and Dramatically Expand the Scope of the HSR Act Filing Process