Stockholder Suits Are Fewer—and Smaller—in 1H 2021

According to Cornerstone’s midyear report on federal and state securities class actions, new securities case filings have continued a substantial downward trend in the first half of 2021.

Plaintiffs filed 112 class action securities cases in the first half of 2021, down 25% from 150 in the second half of 2020 and 38% compared to the 182 cases filed in the first half of 2020, following a marked trend that has emerged since 2019.  That trend continues to be animated in large part by significant declines in M&A-related federal filings, which fell to just 12 during the period, a 66% reduction (or 83% relative to the semiannual average of 70 during the last five years). (more…)

In Case of Emergency, Break Glass: Litigation and Drafting Guidance From Delaware Chancery Court Opinion on “Material Adverse Effect” Clauses

The Delaware Chancery Court recently issued an opinion that confirms the difficulty of successfully invoking a “Material Adverse Effect” (“MAE”) clause in a merger agreement. In particular, the decision underscores the challenges of proving up an MAE — particularly when the target company is in a highly regulated industry — and provides useful guidance for drafting disproportionality exclusions in an MAE clause.

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What’s Cooking When It Comes to Enforcing Business Conduct Clauses in Earnouts: Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertsons Cos.

In Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertsons Cos., the Delaware Court of Chancery denied a motion to dismiss claims that a buyer intentionally avoided an earnout payment by misleading the seller about its plans to operate the acquired business after closing.  The case provides additional guidance in the ever-growing body of case-law addressing “business conduct” clauses in earnout agreements.

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“Chalking Up a Victory for Deal Certainty,” Delaware Court of Chancery Orders That Contested Merger Close

Last Friday, soon-to-be Chancellor McCormick issued a decision in Snow Phipps Group, LLC v. KCake Acquisition, Inc. that ordered the defendant buyers to specifically perform their agreement to acquire DecoPac Holdings, Inc. (“DecoPac” or the Company), which sells cake decorations and technology for use in supermarket bakeries. The 125-page decision, which opens with a quote from the incomparable Julia Child (“A party without cake is just a meeting”), and is rightly described by the Court as a “victory for deal certainty,” offers a detailed analysis of several common contractual provisions in the time of COVID-19. Despite its length, it is a must-read for those interested in the drafting and negotiation of M&A agreements generally, and their operation during the COVID-19 pandemic specifically.

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