Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for July 2017

Global and U.S. M&A activity in July 2017 increased in total deal value, despite a decline in the number of deals. Globally, total deal volume by dollar value increased by 14.6% to $303.85 billion, while the number of deals decreased by 8.9% to 3,029. Similarly, in the U.S., total deal volume by dollar value increased by 13.1% to $108.99 billion, while the number of deals decreased by 9.6% to a 12-month low of 644.

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

Strategic activity drove the market, with strategic deal volume, as measured by dollar value, increasing by 14.8% to $213.90 billion globally and … Read more

A Simple Plan to Liberate the Market for Corporate Control

It’s time to exempt a certain type of hostile bid – an all-cash, all-shares tender offer – from a poison pill defense.  In essence, I propose a statutory rule requiring a board to remain neutral in the face of such an offer unless the company’s certificate of incorporation allows otherwise.  This would be similar to but less general than Rule 21 of the UK’s Takeover Code.

Argument for Change

In Unocal Corp. v. Mesa Petroleum, the Delaware Supreme Court created the so-called Unocal test, a standard of review for board actions aimed at warding off a hostile bidder … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for June

M&A activity in June 2017 struggled to build upon any recent favorable indicators. Globally, total deal volume by dollar value decreased from May 2017 volume by 3.5% to $263.00 billion, and the number of deals decreased by 5.8% to 3,116. The market’s downward trend was more pronounced in the U.S., where total deal volume by dollar value decreased over the same period by 8.1% to $94.44 billion, and the number of deals decreased by 21.7% to 662.

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

Sponsor-related activity, both globally and in the U.S., slipped from its strong performance in May, decreasing in total dollar … Read more

A Reality Check on the Appeal of the DFC Global Appraisal Case

A peculiar appeal is currently before the Delaware Supreme Court. The case involves the judicial appraisal of DFC Global, a company acquired by a private equity firm in 2014. Approximately 12 percent of DFC stockholders dissented, and the Court of Chancery found that the fair value of the company was $10.30 per share, slightly higher than the $9.50 transaction price that the board had negotiated. On appeal, DFC Global has asked the Delaware Supreme Court for a rule of law that the Court of Chancery must defer to the merger price in an arm’s length transaction where there was a … Read more

Gibson Dunn Discusses Appraisal Actions in Delaware

In re Appraisal of PetSmart, Inc.[i]

Under Delaware law, “the Court shall determine the fair value of the shares exclusive of any element of value arising from the accomplishment or expectation of the merger.”[ii] As the statute places the duty to determine fair value on the court, the burden of proof is not specifically allocated to either of the litigating parties, and so “the burden to establish fair value by a preponderance of evidence rests on both” the petitioners and the company.[iii] This construct presents what Vice Chancellor Slights described in In re Appraisal of PetSmart, Inc.Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for May

M&A activity showed mixed results in May 2017, with similar trends to April’s figures, both in terms of deal volume and number of deals.
Globally, total deal volume, as measured by dollar value, increased by 6.9% to $274.05 billion and the number of deals increased by 7.9%
to 3,145. In the U.S., although the number of deals increased by 9.4% to 816, a decrease in average deal size led to a 6.0% decrease in total
deal volume to $102.13 billion.

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

Sponsor-related activity rebounded in May (with all metrics nearing or marking their 12-month high), but strategic … Read more

Targeting Corporate Inversions: Are We Doing the Right Thing?

Congress, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”), and countless legislators have criticized corporate inversions — mergers designed to help American companies lower their tax bills by moving overseas — since McDermott International completed the first one in 1982. Nearly 59 percent of registered voters across the country believe it is Congress’ duty to stop such deals, according to a 2015 study, but about 35 years after the first one, little progress has been made. Every law against these transactions is met with a creative way around it. In other words, when Congress and the Treasury close one loophole, another … Read more

Paul Weiss Discusses Appraisal Risk in Private Equity Transactions

Although still a minority of M&A transactions, appraisal actions are on the rise. In 2012, 20 transactions involving Delaware-incorporated target companies were challenged, but in 2016, this number increased to 48, representing a 240% bump in four years. Further, these figures do not include transactions where appraisal demands were settled before the 120-day deadline for filing an appraisal petition.

With this recent uptick in appraisal litigation, private equity firms should understand the associated risks for, including some that may be unique to PE deals. Recent Delaware decisions and anecdotal perceptions (real or otherwise) have suggested that private equity-led buyouts may … Read more

How Policy Uncertainty Affects M&A

Uncertainty about government economic policy reduces corporate investment and increases financing costs, as prior research has shown. In our new paper, we examine the relationship between policy uncertainty and M&A and the implications for shareholder value. We use the BBD policy uncertainty index developed by Baker, Bloom, and Davis (2016) as a proxy to examine how policy-related economic uncertainty affects firm acquisitiveness, the time it takes to complete a deal, the method of payment, and acquirer and target shareholder value. The BBD index is based on the weighted average of three components: the frequency of newspaper articles containing key terms … Read more

SCOTUS Just Invented Unlikely Sentry Against Corporate Tax Inversions: Patent Trolls

Tax regulators and acquisition sponsors have long been embroiled in a cat and mouse game in the context of corporate inversions—cross-border transactions in which a U.S.-incorporated public corporation is “acquired” by a foreign entity, and the survivor’s locus of incorporation moved out of the United States. If done in compliance with applicable tax regulations, inversions typically allow American targets to avoid high U.S. corporate tax rates on worldwide income, and make use instead of far lower tax rates applied only to income generated within the survivor’s destination jurisdiction.

As tax inversions grew in popularity, federal authorities responded with a gauntlet … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for April

Global M&A activity in April 2017 declined by most measures from its March 2017 level, while the U.S. showed more mixed results. Globally, total deal volume, as measured by dollar value, decreased by 16.6% to $253.91 billion, whereas in the U.S., a large increase in average deal size led to a 58.4% increase in total dollar volume to $108.11 billion. The increase in U.S. volume came despite a 27.1% decrease in number of deals to 669, similar to the global decrease of 25.3% to 2,708 (a new 12-month low for number of deals globally).

Strategic vs. Sponsor Activity

Strategic activity … Read more

How Shareholder Approval Rules Affect the Forms of Mergers

While all acquisitions require approval from target shareholders, the necessary level of shareholder support varies across jurisdictions and deal structures.  Some transactions can be approved by a simple majority of target shareholders, while others require super-majority approval.  In our paper, Shareholder Decision Rights in Acquisitions: Evidence from Tender Offers, we investigate the impact of such variation on deal outcomes, particularly on the choice between a tender offer and merger structure.

To isolate variation in approval thresholds, we use the 2013 enactment of Delaware General Corporation Law § 251(h), which reduced the shareholder support threshold to close out a two-step … Read more

Insider Trading, Delaware Courts and SEC Regulation Get Lively Airing at M&A and Corporate Governance Conference

Insider trading law may be headed for even more disruption, as federal and state watchdogs press broad theories that include hacking and so-called Insider Trading 2.0, the early release of information for a fee, a panel of legal experts said on April 20.

Speaking at the M&A and Corporate Governance Conference in New York, the panel of lawyers and regulators tested the bounds of rules against insider trading in response to a series of hypotheticals posed by Professor John C. Coffee, Jr. of Columbia Law School. An attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said, for example, that the … Read more

The Relationship Between Consolidation and Innovation in the Drug Industry

The prescription drug industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades. The intensifying competition from generic drugs, the expanding power of entities that pay for drugs and negotiate drug prices, the increasing costs of drug development and gaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and the growing risks of commercial failure have strained the finances of many traditional drug companies.  Many companies have responded by consolidating to either reduce costs or create new sources of revenue. As a result, the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the pharmaceutical industry recently hit an all-time high.

As pharmaceutical M&A … Read more

Gibson Dunn Provides an Update on “Fully Informed, Uncoerced” Shareholder Votes in Delaware Under Corwin

In a series of decisions that began with Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings LLC, it is now clear under Delaware law that boards of directors will receive the protection of the business judgment rule “when a merger that is not subject to the entire fairness standard of review has been approved by a fully informed, uncoerced majority of the disinterested stockholders.”[i] On March 31, 2017, in In re Saba Software, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, the Delaware Chancery Court determined, for the first time, that a transaction did not satisfy the Corwin standard.[ii] Although Saba addresses unique facts, … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for March

Global M&A activity in March 2017 was generally stronger than in February and also outperformed U.S. activity, where a decline in average deal size overshadowed an increase in the number of deals.  Globally, total deal volume, as measured by dollar value, increased by 47.3% to $299.58 billion, whereas in the U.S., a decrease in average deal size led to a 38.7% decrease in total dollar volume to $65.91 billion.  The decrease in U.S. volume came despite a 2.9% increase in number of deals to 886, which was not as strong as globally, where the number of deals increased by 15.6% … Read more

Elite Law Firms Cash in on Market Knowledge

The legal advisory market for major corporate transactions is dominated by a relatively small number of elite law firms.  What value do these law firms provide?  Regulatory expertise, innovative drafting, speed of execution, and reputational cachet have all been offered as likely candidates. In Market Information and the Elite Law Firm, I argue that a considerable share of the profits earned by these firms also derives from selling their information about current “market” transaction terms.

Indeed, corporate transactions such as mergers and acquisitions or financings are characterized by several salient facts that lack a complete theoretical account. First, they … Read more

Gibson Dunn Discusses Non-Controlling Stockholder Transactions

On March 7, 2017, the Delaware Chancery Court granted a motion to dismiss in In re Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. Shareholder Litigation, which capped a line of cases starting with Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings LLC and continued with In re Volcano Corporation Shareholder Litigation that clarified that the business judgment rule applies to tender offers and to mergers that are approved by a “fully informed, uncoerced vote” of disinterested stockholders in which the merger counterparty is a non-controlling stockholder or a non-conflicted controlling stockholder.[i] Read together, these cases provide a roadmap for practitioners to limit post-closing stockholder … Read more

Paul Weiss Offers M&A at a Glance for February

M&A activity generally declined in February 2017, both globally and in the U.S.  Total deal volume, as measured by dollar value, decreased globally by 30.1% to $202.45 billion, and in the U.S. by 3.7% to $106.47 billion.  The number of deals followed similar trends, decreasing globally by 8.4% to 2,858 and decreasing in the U.S. by 10.2% to 828. These declines were primarily driven by declines in strategic M&A activity. Globally, strategic deal volume decreased by 40.6% to $144.56 billion and the number of deals decreased by 10.4% to 2,520. In the U.S., strategic deal volume decreased by 2.7% to … Read more

Can Investors Anticipate Post-IPO Mergers and Acquisitions?

Of the nearly 6,000 U.S. firms that conducted initial public offerings between 1980 and 2008, 38 percent became merger bidders within three years after the IPO and 12 percent became takeover targets. It is important that investors understand these developments, given how often post-IPO M&A activity occurs and how much it can affect the value of companies.

Take for instance First Solar and Paypal.  First Solar, the second largest maker of solar panels worldwide, explicitly disclosed that a primary use of its 2006 IPO proceeds would be to engage in acquisitions to achieve vertical integration. Not surprisingly, First Solar acquired … Read more