Category

Corporate Control

30 August 2021

A Delaware Corporate and M&A Checklist: 11 Cases That Every Practitioner Should Know

EmailShare

As regular readers know, this blog typically covers the latest developments and trends emerging from the Delaware Court of Chancery. For this post, however, we revisit first principles and remind our readers of the bedrock decisions of modern Delaware M&A practice, and highlight 11 key decisions with which every practitioner should be familiar. (more…)

24 August 2021

Vice Chancellor Zurn’s First Post-Trial Opinion Provides a Cautionary Tale Regarding Private Ordering Under the LLC Act

EmailShare

In her first true Opinion for the Court, In re Coinmint, LLC, Vice Chancellor Zurn delved deeply into the tortured relationship between the two founders (and sole members) of Coinmint, LLC, a bitcoin mining firm, and ultimately held that Delaware’s strong preference for private ordering is not unlimited where the parties fail entirely to follow the formalities set out in the founding documents to which they collectively agreed.

(more…)

19 July 2021

No Shortcuts Allowed: Court of Chancery Rejects Attempt To Circumvent MFW’s Two-Step Mandate

EmailShare

On June 30, 2021, the Delaware Court of Chancery largely denied defendant directors’ motion to dismiss derivative claims for breaches of fiduciary duty arising from a controlling stockholder transaction. Vice Chancellor Fioravanti’s decision in Berteau v. Glazek rejected defendants’ “novel” argument that the “MFW doctrine,” set forth in Kahn v. M & F Worldwide Corp., could mandate application of the business judgment rule absent a majority-of-the-minority vote, and thus also serves as a reminder of the contours of the MFW doctrine.

(more…)

08 July 2021

When Even “Entirely Fair” Is Not Enough

EmailShare

The Delaware Supreme Court recently reversed Chancellor Kathaleen S. McCormick’s post-trial decision upholding a disputed stock sale after concluding that the sale satisfied the entire fairness standard of review.  Although the Court affirmed the trial court’s entire fairness finding — Delaware’s most rigorous standard of review under which a defendant must establish that a transaction was the product of both fair dealing and fair price — it nevertheless reversed because the Court of Chancery concluded that entire fairness was the “end of the road” for judicial review and declined to consider the board’s motivations for the transaction.  Invoking the principle expressed in the seminal Delaware opinion in Schnell v. Chris-Craft that “inequitable action does not become permissible merely because it is legally possible,” the Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration of the motivation for and purpose of the subject stock sale.

(more…)

20 May 2021

New Chancellor’s First Decision Reaffirms the Robust Protections Afforded to Transactions Following the MFW Roadmap

EmailShare

Last week, newly sworn-in Chancellor McCormick issued her first decision in her new role, Franchi v. Firestone, granting a motion to dismiss a shareholder complaint regarding a going-private transaction with a controlled shareholder. In doing so, the new Chancellor affirmed that the MFW roadmap continues to provide robust protection to such transactions, so long as they meet the formal requirements set out in MFW(more…)

01 April 2021

Delaware Court of Chancery Will Evaluate Third-Party Sales of Controlled Companies Under the Enhanced Scrutiny Standard of Review

EmailShare

The Delaware Court of Chancery recently held that a stockholder plaintiff pleaded facts sufficient to support a reasonable inference that a target company’s board of directors could have achieved a higher deal price had the company’s financial advisor not, unbeknownst to the board, tipped the buyer about the price of another bid during the sale process.

(more…)

25 March 2021

Back to the Future: New Lines Drawn for Poison Pills

EmailShare

In a tale of what is old is new again, the Delaware Court of Chancery reviewed the propriety of a poison pill — a bulwark of the 1980s takeover era — but in the context of shareholder activism against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vice Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick’s detailed review of the pertinent case law and fact-specific decision to permanently enjoin The Williams Companies, Inc.’s extraordinary 5% poison pill offers a number of lessons for directors considering the adoption or renewal of a similar device. The Williams Cos. S’holder Litig. (Del. Ch. Feb. 26, 2021).

(more…)

04 March 2021

Delaware Supreme Court Invalidates Board Meeting “Ambush”

EmailShare

Alex Bäcker did not like to wait in line.  Nor did he want to give up control of the company he co-founded and led, QLess, which produces a “virtual queue management system that reduces the time that retail customers must wait in line for services.”  The Delaware Supreme Court’s rejection of Bäcker’s apparent subterfuge in an effort to maintain that control is a reminder that director actions are subject to equitable review.

(more…)

13 January 2021

Court of Chancery Allows Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims Stemming from CBS-Viacom Merger to Proceed

EmailShare

On December 29, 2020, in a 76-page memorandum opinion, the Court of Chancery denied a motion to dismiss breach of fiduciary duty claims against National Amusements, Inc. (NAI), Viacom Inc.’s controlling stockholder; Shari Redstone, the director, president, and controlling stockholder of NAI; and four individual NAI directors. All were sued for their roles in the Viacom/CBS Corp. merger in a decision that is important for mergers in which a controlling party stands on both sides of a transaction and receives nonratable benefits that are measured in terms of control, rather than based on merger consideration.

(more…)

13 July 2020

Entire Fairness Standard Applied When Controlling Stockholder Negotiated Economic Terms With a Minority Stockholder Before MFW Protections Were in Place

EmailShare

The Delaware Chancery Court recently held that a going-private transaction was not entitled to the deferential business judgment standard of review because the controlling stockholder failed to condition the transaction on special committee and minority stockholder approval before engaging in substantive economic discussions with a minority stockholder. In re HomeFed Corp. S’holder Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0592-AGB (Del. Ch. July 13, 2020).

(more…)