Corwin Cleanse Clarified: Key Lessons for Interested Directors

Since Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings LLC, Delaware courts have adhered to the proposition that “when a transaction not subject to the entire fairness standard is approved by a fully informed, uncoerced vote of the disinterested stockholders, the business judgment rule applies.” However, The Delaware Court of Chancery recently issued an opinion (available here)  clarifying the application of Corwin to the fiduciary duties of interested directors. The Court declined to dismiss a complaint alleging that the defendant directors’ approval of a merger was a breach of the directors’ duty of loyalty and constituted unjust enrichment. Specifically, the Court rejected the defendant directors’ contention that Corwin “cleansed” the transaction, and, as a consequence, explained that a duty of loyalty analysis was still appropriate. In what follows, we describe this case and offer some important takeaways concerning interested directors. (more…)

Intent Matters: Delaware Court Limits Discovery in Appraisal Action Where Petitioners’ Sole Intent Was to Investigate Potential Breach of Fiduciary Claim

The Delaware Court of Chancery recently issued an opinion making a narrow but key distinction in appraisal proceedings: the petitioners’ underlying intent in filing a Section 262 action matters. The court held that petitioners should not be allowed to obtain full discovery where the sole purpose in bringing the appraisal proceeding is to investigate potential wrongdoing. In this case, such intent was determined from Petitioners’ de minimis financial stake in the company. (more…)

Litigation Trends in Delaware and How Businesses and Boards Can Mitigate Risk

New structures, new rules? Delaware’s Chancery Court provides guidance on disclosure, conflicts, and risk allocation. We take a look at the latest Delaware rulings and what they say about SPAC directors’ fiduciary duty, as well as COVID’s effect on M&A deals, and how corporations and boards can mitigate their liability. Join host and Sidley partner, Sam Gandhi, as he speaks with two of the firm’s thought leaders on these subjects — Jim Ducayet and Charlotte Newell.
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Extraordinary Times May Still Call for Ordinary Measures: Delaware Supreme Court Affirms Buyer’s Termination of $5.8 Billion Transaction

The Delaware Supreme Court recently affirmed Vice Chancellor Laster’s much talked of AB Stable post-trial decision, holding that the buyer of a $5.8 billion hotel portfolio could terminate the transaction due to, among other things, the seller’s breach of an ordinary course covenant by making operational changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Supreme Court’s affirmance provides critical guidance for the interpretation and navigation of such provisions, particularly in extraordinary times. (more…)

Sidley Perspectives on M&A and Corporate Governance

Sidley is pleased to share the December 2021 issue of Sidley Perspectives on M&A and Corporate Governance, a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you current on what we consider to be the most important legal developments involving M&A and corporate governance matters. (more…)

Periodic Reminder: Former Stockholders Have No Standing to Pursue Section 220 Demands

On December 3, 2021, the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed an action for books and records under Delaware General Corporation Law Section 220, reiterating that when a plaintiff files such an action, they must currently be a stockholder of the company against whom the Section 220 action is filed.

Specifically, a plaintiff must file a books and records action before a merger agreement becomes effective under its own terms; after the merger becomes effective, a plaintiff typically ceases to be a stockholder in the target company, which also precludes their ability to pursue books and records of that company. Companies facing Section 220 demands in the face of a merger agreement should scrutinize the demanding party’s standing to pursue such records. (more…)

Delaware Supreme Court Confirms Appraisal Rights May Be Waived Contractually — Query What Else May Be

On September 13, 2021, over a rare dissent, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Chancery’s dismissal of a petition for appraisal filed by minority stockholders (the “Petitioners”) of Delaware corporation Authentix Acquisition Company, Inc. (“Authentix”). The high court agreed that the Petitioners could waive the statutory right to an appraisal through provisions in a stockholder agreement (the “Stockholders Agreement”). Significantly, this ruling may open the door for corporations to contractually waive other permissions portions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”). (more…)

Bear Market For Plaintiffs’ Liquidity-Based Conflict Allegations

In M&A litigation, plaintiffs’ lawyers see actual or perceived conflicts of interest as gold.  Conflict allegations can take many forms and arise in a variety of contexts: for example, a board member of a target company who is offered employment by the would-be acquirer, or a controlling stockholder who sits on both sides of a transaction.  Another common example, and the focus of this post, is a board member or stockholder whose financial interests are alleged to diverge from other stockholders because of a need or desire to quickly liquidate holdings (referred to as a “liquidity-based conflict”). (more…)

SPACs: A New Frontier for Shareholder Activism

In NIRI’s IR Update, Derek Zaba, Kai Liekefett, and Joshua DuClos published an article titled, “SPACs: A New Frontier for Shareholder Activism.” Their article discusses how the SPAC boom has created a new breeding ground for activism targets and how SPACs should prepare for an activist attack. (more…)

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

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…)