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Wachtell Lipton Discusses the State of Play in Activism

As we approach the 2019 proxy season, developments since September 2017 prompt a brief updated review of the state of play.

  • The threat of activism remains high, and has become increasingly global.
  • Activist assets under management remain at elevated levels, encouraging continued attacks on many large successful companies in the U.S. and abroad.
  • In the current robust M&A environment, deal-related activism is prevalent, with activists instigating deal activity, challenging announced transactions (g., the “bumpitrage” strategy of pressing for a price increase) and/or pressuring the target into a merger or a private equity deal with the activist itself.
  • “Short”

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Debevoise Discusses Delaware Chancery Ruling on a Material Adverse Event

On October 1, the Delaware Court of Chancery, in a record-breaking 246-page opinion, held that Fresenius Kabi AG (a German publicly listed healthcare company) did not have to consummate its proposed acquisition of Akorn, Inc. (a Nasdaq-listed generic pharmaceutical company) on the basis that Akorn had suffered a Material Adverse Effect, or MAE. The court also found that Akorn had breached certain representations in the parties’ merger agreement, and that the breach would reasonably be expected to result in an MAE. The decision represents the first time in memory that a Delaware court has allowed a buyer to walk away … Read more

Justice Department’s Antitrust Chief Talks Modernizing M&A Review

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to speak here today. It is a pleasure to be at Georgetown University for this year’s Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium.

Events like these, which bring competition enforcement officials together to speak with members of the private bar, the business community, and the academic community, serve an important role in the continued development of antitrust law and its enforcement.  They facilitate the rule of law by increasing transparency and predictability in enforcement.  This, in turn, promotes competition and conserves both public and private resources by allowing the private bar to better counsel their

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Covington & Burling on the UK’s “No-Deal” Competition and Merger Guidance

The UK Government published its highly-anticipated technical guidance on merger review and anti-competitive activity on 13 September 2018 which will apply in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit (the ‘Guidance’). Although brief, it provides market players with some form of practical advice and insights on what to expect, how cases are likely to be divided between the EU and UK regimes, how UK competition law will develop, and suggests in what ways post-Brexit competition damages actions in the UK Courts may change. This Guidance follows on from the previously released ‘no-deal’ state aid guidance – as was covered in our … Read more

Corwin at a Crossroads: Could DVMT Stock Be the Tracker Jacker in Dell’s Hunger Games?

Of all the conjured hazards faced by the teenage gladiators in the dystopian novel The Hunger Games, the Tracker Jacker (a genetically engineered wasp) was the most deadly and unpredictable when provoked. Dell Technologies Inc. may soon have to contend with its own species of Tracker Jacker, as speculation mounts around the company’s pending offer to its public Class V tracking stock shareholders (NYSE: DVMT)—a cash-and-stock transaction with a claimed valuation of $109 per share.  Several activist hedge funds with substantial DVMT positions have vigorously opposed the proposed deal, and their burgeoning resistance has evidently induced Dell to hint Read more

The Sky’s the Limit as Comcast and Fox Prepare for Battle at the Auction Block

For the last year, a heated ownership battle has been unfolding between Comcast and 20th Century Fox in their contest to acquire Sky PLC. Sky is Europe’s leading media company and the largest pay-TV broadcaster in the UK, with over 21 million subscribers and 30,000 employees (not to mention a mercilessly dominant professional cycling club). While many such battles are settled outside of the public eye, this one is destined for a different fate: Over the next two days, the Comcast/Fox contest will culminate in an old-school auction—one ordered by the UK Takeover Panel, which oversees and regulates all … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for August 2018

M&A activity in August, like July, continued the recent downward trend in number of deals across most sectors while showing more mixed results as measured by total dollar value.[1]  The number of deals decreased in the U.S. by 39.4% to 274 and globally by 19.2% to 2,027 (the third consecutive month with the lowest levels since the beginning of this publication in 2012).  However, deal volume by dollar value increased in the U.S. by 10.1% to $136.47 billion while it decreased globally by 6.6% to $275.93 billion.

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

The number of strategic deals decreased by 43.2% … Read more

Sullivan & Cromwell Discusses “Day One” Market Reactions to Bank Mergers

There has recently been a pick-up in bank merger and acquisition activity that likely reflects both the increased importance of scale in the banking industry, particularly in the technology area, and regulatory and legislative developments that reduce certain obstacles to approval of bank merger transactions.  Nonetheless, the immediate negative market reaction that has greeted the announcement of several recent mergers may discourage other banks from considering sensible consolidation transactions.  Not only purchasers, but sellers, may be reluctant to engage in transactions, notwithstanding their strong business and financial merits, if concerns over the “day-one” market reaction play an outsized role in … Read more

Sullivan & Cromwell Discusses How FCPA Enforcement Will Affect M&A

During a speech delivered on July 25, 2018 at the American Conference Institute 9th Global Forum on Anti-Corruption Compliance in High Risk Markets, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Matthew Miner, who oversees the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Fraud Section (which includes the DOJ’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) Unit), announced that successor companies that identify potential FCPA violations in connection with a merger or acquisition and disclose that conduct to the DOJ will be treated in conformance with the DOJ’s FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (the “Policy”).  The Policy, which went into effect in November 2017, created a presumption that … Read more

Latham & Watkins Discusses U.S. Inversion Regulations After New Tax Law

On July 11, 2018, the US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) issued final regulations (the Regulations) continuing efforts aimed at curbing cross-border corporate expatriation transactions — commonly referred to as inversions — and diminishing the tax advantages associated with inversions.

The Regulations generally follow the guidance provided in notices and temporary and proposed regulations promulgated during the 2014-2016 period (the Prior Guidance), with certain clarifications and modifications. Differences between the Regulations and the relevant Prior Guidance are generally technical, and the Regulations do not change fundamental policy decisions reflected in such guidance.[1]Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for June 2018

M&A activity in June 2018 weakened from last month across most measures, although still generally strong for the first half of the year.  The total number of deals decreased in the U.S. by 28.6% to 528 (the lowest level since the beginning of this publication in 2012) and globally by 17.5% to 2,457 (the lowest level since March 2014).  However, while June deal volume by dollar value also decreased globally by 14.0% to $348.56 billion, deal volume increased in the U.S. by 27.6% to $184.30 billion.[1]

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

The number of strategic deals decreased by 33.0% to … Read more

How M&A Can Lead to Better Management

A fundamental question in corporate finance is how mergers and acquisitions create value. Possibilities include generating economies of scale or scope, increasing managerial efficiency, improving production techniques, or strengthening market power. Synergies are a leading motive for doing mergers, but direct empirical evidence on how they are created is lacking. In a new study, we investigate a potential source of synergies—improvements in management practices.

We use a novel survey dataset of plant-level management practices from the U.S. Census Bureau. Specifically, we use the 2010 Management and Organizational Practices Survey, the first large-scale management practices survey of manufacturing plants in the … Read more

Skadden Discusses When It Makes Sense to Prepay Appraisal Claims

In response to the growing practice of “appraisal arbitrage,” in 2016 Delaware’s General Assembly amended the state’s appraisal statute, Section 262 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. The amendment to Section 262(h) granted corporations the option to “prepay” appraisal claimants an amount of the corporation’s choosing in order to stop the accrual of interest. While corpora­tions now have the option to pay, should they? Whether, when and how much to prepay is a complex and nuanced judgment that will vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances of a case.

Background

Prior to the amendment, corporations in an appraisal action … Read more

Skadden Discusses Latest Legislation to Expand Foreign Investment Review

In large part as a response to China’s national industrial goals and subsequent Chinese acquisitions of U.S. and European companies that are technology leaders in key industries, the U.S. government and a number of European governments are seeking to expand the scope of their national security reviews of foreign investments. Below, we outline ongoing developments affecting U.S. national security reviews of inbound foreign investment.1

FIRRMA Moves Ahead

The Senate and House have recently passed their respective versions of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) legislation that was origi­nally introduced in November 2017 with significant bipartisan support. FIRRMA … Read more

How M&A Laws Affect the Risk of Stock Price Crashes

In a new cross-nation study, we discuss our findings on how the takeover market affects stock-price crash risk, defined as the likelihood of a sudden, drastic decline in the stock price of a firm. An important consideration for risk management and investment decisions, crash risk has received much interest in recent years from academics, regulators, and practitioners due to the series of high-profile corporate scandals (e.g., Enron, WorldCom, Satyam) and the financial crisis of the last decade.

Prior research suggests that the risk of security price crashes stems from agency problems (i.e., managers do not act in the best interests … Read more

Is Delaware Asleep at the Wheel (Again)?

Beginning at least as far back as Professor William Carey’s famously withering 1974 Yale Law Journal article about Delaware’s “enabling” of bad corporate actors, critics of the state’s corporate jurisprudence have alluded to a “race to the bottom” in which the state legislature and judiciary turn a blind eye to managerial agency costs in order to attract new business and maintain Delaware’s dominant franchise in corporate law.

But over the past two decades, a better metaphor for the state’s corporate oversight may be a pinball ricocheting from crisis to crisis, with jurisprudential vigilance varying according to the degree of exigency … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for May 2018

M&A activity in May 2018 generally weakened from the prior month. The total number of deals decreased in the U.S. by 1.2% to 667 (the second-lowest level in the last 12-month period) and globally by 4.8% to 2,759 (the lowest level in the last 12-month period). May deal volume by dollar value decreased in the U.S. by 29.9% to $144.39 billion and globally by 21.9% to $401.76 billion.[1]

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

The number of strategic deals increased by 2.4% to 564 in the U.S., but decreased by 5.0% to 2,456 globally, the second-lowest level in the last 12-month … Read more

Mergers and the Market for Busy Directors: A Global Analysis

The issue of directors serving on multiple corporate boards has come under increasing scrutiny from both academicians and practitioners. There are two types of arguments associated with the conflicting evidence of how multiple directorships affect firm value and performance. The first is a reputation hypothesis that contends individuals gain valuable experience, skills, and networks from serving on multiple boards. The competing argument, which we refer to as the busyness hypothesis, is that these individuals are over-committed and thus unable to provide the careful monitoring and diligence that their positions require. The literature has not yet established whether the reputation or … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for April 2018

M&A activity in April 2018, as measured by number of deals, dipped from March 2018 levels in the U.S. and globally across every metric.  The total number of deals decreased by 15.2% to 669 in the U.S. and 9.7% to 2,771 globally, each the second-lowest respective level in the last 12-month period.  April volume by dollar value increased both in the U.S. and globally.[1]  In the U.S., deal volume increased by 17.6% to $206.28 billion.  Globally, deal volume increased by 8.3% to $525.68 billion, a 12-month high.

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

The number of strategic deals decreased by 10.8% … Read more

The Lessons of Xerox: Is New York Law Now Tougher Than Delaware’s?

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[1]  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