It is an old maxim that “Hard cases make bad law.” But it may have a corollary: “Bad facts make hard law.” When a defendant clearly overreaches, the court may not let small details stand in its way. The decision in In re Xerox Corp. Consol. Shareholder Litigation by Justice Barry Ostrager of the New York Supreme Court may be such a case. Decided at the end of last month, the decision enjoined a shareholder vote on a merger-like transaction between Xerox Corporation and Fujifilm Holdings Corporation (“Fuji”) and required Xerox to waive its advance notice bylaw so that … Read more
Prior research has documented the existence of disclosure externalities, or information spillovers, between firms in a number of different settings. The idea is that when two firms are economically related, public disclosures by one firm can affect the stock price of the other firm. In a recent paper, we extend this idea by asking whether firms make disclosure decisions with the intention of affecting other firms’ stock prices. That is, we examine whether the presence of information spillovers influences firms’ disclosure decisions.
We investigate our question in the context of cash-based mergers and acquisitions. We test whether bidders disclose information … Read more
New Risk of Below-Deal-Price in Appraisal Results
Last quarter, the Delaware courts issued the first post-Dell appraisal decisions—Aruba and AOL (issued by the Court of Chancery) and SWS Group (issued by the Delaware Supreme Court, affirming the Court of Chancery decision below). In Dell, the Supreme Court had held that, in the case of an arm’s-length merger with a “robust” sale process, the deal price is generally the best “proxy” for appraised fair value and should be given “heavy, if not determinative weight” in determining fair value. The Supreme Court had also directed that, even if the … Read more
In mergers and acquisitions (M&A), one of the trickiest tasks is assessing the value of the company to be purchased or sold. While in some cases buyers and sellers come easily to an agreement, in others the information asymmetry between the two parties is too great or the target company is too opaque, and the deal can fall apart.
Earnouts are contractual agreements that link part of the acquisition price to the future performance of the target. One portion of the price is paid to the selling shareholders up front and the remaining portion is paid only if the target … Read more
The Corporate Council of the Corporation Law Section of the Delaware State Bar Association (the “Corporate Council”) has released proposed legislation to amend certain provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) which if enacted would, among other things, (i) amend Section 262 to reduce the number of transactions that would be subject to appraisal claims by extending the “market out exception” to the availability of statutory appraisal rights in exchange offers followed by a merger under Section 251(h), (ii) amend Section 204 to clarify the situations in which that Section may be used to ratify defective corporate acts … Read more
In 2010, Roger Carr, then-chairman of British confectionery Cadbury, waged a grueling five-month battle before losing control of the company to Kraft Foods. “At the end of the day,” he said, “there were simply not enough shareholders prepared to take a long-term view of Cadbury and prepared to forgo short-term gain for longer-term prosperity.”
In response to the deal, the Guardian newspaper asked whether it was time to regulate hedge funds’ activities to protect premier UK companies from inefficient takeover bids. Hedge funds held 5 percent of Cadbury at the time of Kraft’s bid, and, according to Roger Carr, short-term … Read more
M&A activity gained momentum in March 2018, capping the strongest opening quarter in the history of this publication. In the U.S., deal volume returned to January levels, increasing by 109.6% to $174.10 billion, and the number of deals increased by 2.9% to 751. Globally, deal volume increased by 49.9% to $446.00 billion, and the number of deals increased by 4.0% to 2,838. As described below, the one notable exception to the overall trend was a decrease in sponsor-related deal volume.
Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity
The increases in deal volume were reflective of a strong month for strategic transactions. In the … Read more
In 2013, Michael Dell and his private equity partner, Silver Lake, brought the previously publicly-held Dell Corporation private at a price of $13.75 per share, a price that was approved by Dell’s board and by a 57 percent majority vote of shareholders (70 percent of shares voted) on September 12. 2013. That price was arrived at after the board examined numerous estimates of the value of Dell by various outside experts and after an extensive, but ultimately unsuccessful, “go shop” canvassing of at least 60 other companies to explore their interest in making a higher offer.
Shareholders dissenting from the … Read more
VMware’s shareholders enjoyed gains of nearly 60 percent in 2017 as the company positioned itself as an appealing play on cloud computing with substantial growth potential and partnerships with industry leaders like Amazon Web Services. Indeed, in its most recent earnings period, VMware reported revenue growth of 14 percent and earnings growth of 17 percent, handily exceeding expectations for the period ending February 2. One analyst stated that “VMware is poised for its best growth trajectory since the 2008 recession.”
Investors should be celebrating, right? Wrong.
Despite the impressive performance, a dark cloud has hovered over the company since late … Read more
Two recent decisions confirm that, in the wake of the Delaware Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in Dell and DFC, Delaware courts are taking an increasingly skeptical view of claims in appraisal actions that the “fair value” of a company’s shares exceeds the deal price. However, as demonstrated by each of these recent Delaware Court of Chancery decisions—In re Appraisal of AOL Inc. and Verition Partners Master Fund Limited v. Aruba Networks, Inc.—several key issues are continuing to evolve in the Delaware courts. In particular, Delaware courts are refining the criteria in appraisal actions for determining … Read more
On April 20, 2018, Columbia Law School will hold its 2018 Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Governance Conference at Convene in midtown Manhattan. The event is co-sponsored by the law firms Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
The annual event brings together members of the federal and Delaware judiciary, government regulators, academics, institutional investors, and prominent M&A and corporate governance practitioners. This year’s panelists will include U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, Delaware Supreme Court Justice Karen L. Valihura, Delaware Chancellor Andre G. Bouchard, and SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson Jr. Below is the full agenda.… Read more
The winds of change will shortly sweep across the data privacy landscape in the European Union (“E.U.”) and the gale will be felt worldwide. The European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) will come into force on May 25, 2018. Currently, some U.S. M&A practitioners prioritize U.S. law, absent a target with a strong business nexus with the E.U., but the GDPR’s extraterritorial scope, together with increased fines for non-compliance (up to the greater of 20,000,000 Euros or four percent of annual global revenue), will force its consideration into U.S. M&A activity.
We discuss below the … Read more
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced proposals to tighten its jurisdiction over mergers in the military, quantum technology and computing hardware industries. The changes, which are subject to a consultation period through April 12, 2018, would lower the thresholds at which the CMA and the Secretary of State can exercise their powers of review and intervention.
Specifically, the CMA is proposing to:
- reduce the ‘target turnover threshold’ from £70 million to £1 million, and
- broaden the ‘share of supply threshold’ to catch targets with 25% or more share of supply in the UK, even if the acquirer
Since the Delaware Supreme Court issued its landmark Dell appraisal decision in December 2017, the Delaware courts have issued three appraisal decisions—Verition Partners v. Aruba Networks (Feb. 15, 2018), In re Appraisal of AOL Inc. (Feb. 23, 2018), and In re Appraisal of SWS Group (affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court Feb. 23, 2018). In Dell, the Supreme Court held that, in the case of an arm’s-length merger with a “robust” sale process, the deal price is generally the best “proxy” for appraised fair value and should be given “heavy, if not determinative weight” in determining fair value. … Read more
Despite an increase in M&A activity over the past three months, deal trends in February 2018 retreated towards their 12-month averages, following banner months in November and December, both of which featured some of the largest deals we have seen in the last year. In the U.S., deal volume by dollar value decreased by 52.1% to $82.61 billion, the second-lowest level of the preceding 12‑month period, and the number of deals decreased by 21.5% to 716. Globally, deal volume decreased by 10.5% to $295.03 billion and the number of deals decreased by 20.1% to 2,639 (a 12-month low).
Ronald Coase (1959, 1960)  insightfully noted that with well-defined property rights, resources flow to their highest-valued use. In a recent paper, we apply this view of property rights to the corporate takeover market in the United States. Observers such as Jensen (1993) argue that the major corporate-control activity beginning in the 1980s in the United States emanated from political, economic, and technological shocks that upset the existing structure of American industry. Indeed, innovations in junk bond financing and the relaxation of antitrust laws made large firms targets of corporate takeovers for the first time. In our analysis, … Read more
Antitrust merger enforcement historically has focused on horizontal mergers — consolidation of two firms that compete directly in the same space. This is especially true in the U.S., where antitrust authorities have challenged few vertical mergers — those of a firm with one of its customers or suppliers — and are even less prone to scrutinize conglomerate mergers that marry complementary assets, or transactions that may affect innovation competition that isn’t tied to specific products or markets.
The European Union’s antitrust regulator, the European Commission, has been more apt to examine vertical issues, conglomerate effects and innovation competition, pushing the … Read more
A recent spate of appraisal decisions signals that the Delaware courts will be skeptical of claims that the “fair value” of a company’s stock, as determined in a judicial proceeding brought by a dissenter from the merger, will be higher than the price paid in the transaction. To the contrary, in the context of strategic transactions—which may include synergy value to which dissenting stockholders are not entitled under the appraisal statute—Delaware has made clear that the appraised value may well be less than the deal price.
These decisions follow the important and welcome rulings of the Delaware Supreme Court in … Read more
In 2015, Hewlett Packard acquired Aruba for a negotiated price of $24.67 per share, or about $2.8 billion. Several stockholders sought appraisal. On February 15, the Delaware Court of Chancery found that, for purposes of appraisal, the fair value of the Aruba shares equaled the 30-day average unaffected market price of the shares, prior to announcement of the transaction, which was $17.13, about 30% less than the negotiated price.
The court’s reasoning was driven largely by what the court believed to be directions from the Delaware Supreme Court’s decisions arising from the earlier DFC and Dell acquisitions, including assumptions regarding … Read more
In U.S. and global M&A activity for January 2018, total deal volume by dollar value decreased, while the total number of deals increased. In the U.S., deal volume decreased by 29.3% to $170.57 billion, while the number of deals increased by 42.6% to 884. Globally, deal volume decreased by 31.2% to $324.45 billion, while the number of deals increased by 9.9% to 3,118. The sharp decreases in deal volumes are likely less reflective of any dramatic decline in deal flow, but rather due to the 12-month highs set in December 2017, especially given that January 2018 marked the third-highest global … Read more