M & A Law Prof Blog

Editor: Brian JM Quinn
Boston College Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, February 28, 2011

Buying a sports franchise

Now that spring training is well under way, all good M&A attorneys should brush up on what's needed to get that acquisition done.  Foley & Lardner provide an overview of the due diligence requirements of buying a professional sports team.

In related news, the Red Sox beat BC 6-0 in their annual spring outing.

-bjmq

 

February 28, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Barry and Hatfield on takeover defenses

Before Airgas gets too far into your rearview mirror - Jordan Barry and John Hatfield have recently posted a paper, Pills and Partisans: Understanding Takeover Defenses.  Although Chancellor Chandler's opinion in Airgas may be the last word on the question for now, that doesn't mean we have to stop asking the questions! 

Abstract: Corporate takeover defenses have long been a focal point of academic and popular attention. However, no consensus exists on such fundamental questions as why different corporations adopt varying levels of defenses and whether defenses benefit or harm target corporations' shareholders or society generally. Much of the disagreement surrounding takeover defenses stems from the lack of a fully developed formal analytical framework for considering their effects. Our Article presents several formal models built upon a common core of assumptions that together create such a theoretical framework. These models incorporate the reality that target corporate insiders have superior information about the target but are imperfect agents of its shareholders. They suggest that modern defenses enable target shareholders to extract value from acquirers by empowering corporate insiders, but that takeover defenses do not benefit society as a whole. They also suggest why corporations with different characteristics may choose to adopt varying levels of takeover defenses. Our findings have implications for the longstanding debate about who is best served by state-level control of corporate law and the desirability of increased federal involvement in corporate law.

-bjmq

February 27, 2011 in Takeover Defenses | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bebchuk on Airgas

Don't like the Airgas decision?  Maybe you're with Chancellor Chandler in thinking that Interco wasn't all that bad - that fully-informed stockholders should have the right to decide whether or not to accept an offer.  That's not the present law. But argues Prof. Bebchuk argues in today's WSJ one is not totally without recourse.  The proper response to the Airgas decision is simply to ramp up what is already happening - more declassfication of corporate boards.  The pill's power comes from its combination with the staggered board.  Take away the staggered board and acquirers will be able to engage in proxy contests that can be resolved in one election cycle.  

-bjmq

February 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joseph H. Flom, RIP

From Skadden:

 Joseph H. Flom, M&A Pioneer and Philanthropist, Dies at 87

NEW YORK – February 23, 2011 – Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP announced today with profound sadness that Joseph H. Flom passed away this morning. He was 87 years old.

Mr. Flom joined Skadden, Arps as the firm's first associate in 1948. Over the course of a singularly distinguished law career, he fundamentally transformed the practice of corporate law, while guiding Skadden from a four-lawyer firm to a global law firm with 2,000 attorneys and scores of practice areas.

"It is an understatement to say Joe was an individual without equal. He was a most trusted adviser, beloved and respected partner and mentor, faithful friend and formidable adversary," said Skadden, Arps Executive Partner Eric J. Friedman. "Joe led significant change in the practice of corporate law during a storied career, and he was among the first to drive mergers and acquisitions to the top of corporate agendas. With a steady hand and clear vision, he guided the firm's development, never wavering from his principles of unparalleled legal advice, loyalty to his colleagues and peers, and social responsibility."

Robert C. Sheehan, Skadden's executive partner from 1994 to 2009, said, "Joe was an original. The architect of the modern day M&A law practice, he was the consummate deal attorney – smart, strategic, tireless. He and Skadden, Arps were at the forefront when other major law firms began to recognize that the transactional work he pioneered was indispensable to corporate clients seeking growth, diversification and new markets. Joe was simply the best of the best."

One of the world's most highly lauded attorneys during a career spanning more than six decades, he was named one of the "lawyers of the century" by The American Lawyer in 1999. The publication cited Mr. Flom's leading role in "many of the biggest proxy fights of the seventies and eighties. At the same time, he had a vision for his law firm that turned Skadden … an upstart even in the 1960s – into the largest legal business in the world.

In 2004, he received lifetime achievement awards from Chambers and Partners and The American Lawyer magazine.

Mr. Flom was a dedicated humanitarian, supporting education and equal opportunity in the legal profession, and likely would have wanted to be remembered most for his philanthropic work. He was particularly gratified by the enduring work of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, of which he was the founding trustee. The Foundation awards more than 25 fellowships annually to graduating law students and outgoing judicial clerks to support their public interest endeavors. Over the course of each two-year fellowship, the participants create and pursue their own projects at public interest organizations. The 2011 Class of Fellows brings to 620 the number of academically outstanding young attorneys the Foundation has funded to work full-time for pro bono organizations.

In April 2008, Mr. Flom led the firm's development of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom Honors Program in Legal Studies at City College of New York, an initiative designed to increase diversity in the legal profession.

In 1998, Harvard Law School established the Joseph Flom Professor of Law and Business, endowed by Skadden and its partners.

Mr. Flom, along with his first wife, Claire, who predeceased him in 2007, supported the Gateway School in New York – founded by Claire – for children with learning disabilities. They also supported cancer research at the Mount Sinai-NYU Medical Center Health System, among other institutions and causes.

More recently, he and his wife Judi provided significant financial support for the widely praised "Play Me, I'm Yours" public installation of 60 pianos in all five boroughs of New York City for several weeks last summer.

Born on December 21, 1923, in Baltimore and raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Flom attended Townsend Harris High School and City College of New York. After serving in the U. S. Army, he attended Harvard Law School on the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1948. At Harvard, he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.  He served on numerous corporate boards and was a trustee of the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation.

Mr. Flom is survived by his wife Judi, sons Jason and Peter, and daughter Nancy Laing, as well as six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

The family is holding a private remembrance.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Skadden Fellowship Foundation for the support of new projects undertaken by former Skadden Fellows. The address is: Skadden Fellowship Foundation, Four Times Square, Room 29/218, New York, N.Y. 10036.

For additional information on Joe Flom, please click here.

-bjmq

February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Once more into the MAC breach!

Once more unto the MAC breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our dead deals.  With apologies to Shakespeare.

So Frontier and Holly have - nearly seven years later decided to try again - announcing a merger of equals today.   The last time these two tried a merger, they ended up in court with Holly calling MAC, I mean MAE, and Frontier arguing that Holly had repudiated the deal.  ( Download Frontier v Holly)  As a result of that case, Delaware adopted the MAC standard in IBP v Tyson (a case heard in Delaware, but involving NY law).  Here's hoping that things go better this time around.

-bjmq 

 

February 22, 2011 in Material Adverse Change Clauses | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 21, 2011

More on Genzyme's CVR

For those of you looking for an example of a publicly traded contingent value right agreement, you can download the Genzyme/Sanofi CVR here.  Some may think that publicly traded CVRs are going to the be the wave of the future. Me? I don't buy that. 

-bjmq

February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Skadden on Airgas

Skadden's client memo on Airgas is here.

Gibson Dunn has their own long client memo on Airgas here.

-bjmq

 

February 18, 2011 in Takeover Defenses | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where J Crew leaves us

David Faber at CNBC tells us what he really thinks about J Crew's "process" and the attempts to make it all right:

The bottom line: go-shops are a waste of time. Fairness opinions are barely worth the paper they are written on when there's bigger fee on the line and management led buyouts are a very tricky thing to get right.

He might be right, but then where does that leave us? These conflicts might well be inherently unresolvable.  It would be nice if the go-shop or fairness opinion were a magic wand that we could wave over conflict transactions and make them go away, but it doesn't look like it's that easy.   I guess the shareholders could still vote no.  That's a possibility...not likely...but a possibility.

-bjmq

February 18, 2011 in Management Buy-Outs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Genzyme's top-up option

The Genzyme-Sanofi transaction is being structured as a tender offer with a back end short form merger (merger agreement).  To accomplish the short merger, they are employing a top-up option.  The top-up option language is below.  The option is triggered when the purchaser owns 75% of the outstanding shares.  I love the math of these things.  Right now, Genzyme has about 300,000,000 261,778,425  shares issued and outstanding on a base of 690,000,000 authorized shares.  If Sanofi gets 75% of the shares in the tender, then Genzyme will have to issue an additional 300,000,000 390,000,000 shares (essentially all of the authorized stock) to bring Sanofi up to 90% so they can accomplish the short form merger.   The Delaware courts have passed on even more dilutive top-up option – provided they don’t adversely affect the appraisal rights stockholders who haven’t tendered, etc (see In re Cogent).  Massachusetts hasn’t though. I suspect that if they look at this, they’ll conclude no-harm, no-foul.  In any event, Genzyme reminds us that when we start talking about top-up options, we had better make sure the seller has sufficient authorized shares – as Genzyme does - to make it work

 

Section 1.5 Top-Up Option.

          (a) Subject to the terms and conditions set forth herein, the Company hereby grants to Purchaser an irrevocable option (the “Top-Up Option”) to purchase, at a price per share equal to the greater of (i) the closing price of a Share on Nasdaq the last trading day prior to the exercise of the Top-Up Option or (ii) the Cash Consideration, that number of newly issued Shares (the “Top-Up Shares”) equal to the lowest number of Shares that, when added to the number of Shares owned by Purchaser at the time of exercise of the Top-Up Option (after giving effect to the issuance of the Top-Up Shares but excluding from Purchaser’s ownership, but not from the outstanding Shares, Shares tendered pursuant to guaranteed delivery procedures that have not yet been delivered in settlement or satisfaction of such guarantee), constitutes one Share more than ninety percent (90%) of all outstanding Shares (assuming the issuance of the Top-Up Shares). The Top-Up Option will only be exercised one time by Purchaser in whole but not in part, and only if clauses (x) and (y) of the following sentence are satisfied. The Top-Up Option will be exercised by Purchaser, and Parent will cause Purchaser to exercise the Top-Up Option, promptly (but in no event later than one (1) Business Day) after the Acceptance Time or the expiration of a Subsequent Offering Period, as applicable, if (x) at the Acceptance Time or the expiration of such Subsequent Offering Period, as applicable, Purchaser owns in the aggregate at least seventy-five percent (75%) of all Shares then outstanding (excluding from Purchaser’s ownership, but not from the outstanding Shares, Shares tendered pursuant to guaranteed delivery procedures that have not yet been delivered in settlement or satisfaction of such guarantee) and (y) after giving effect to the exercise of the Top-Up Option, Purchaser would own in the aggregate one Share more than ninety percent (90%) of the number of outstanding Shares (after giving effect to the issuance of the Top-Up Shares but excluding Shares tendered pursuant to guaranteed delivery procedures that have not yet been delivered in settlement or satisfaction of such guarantee); providedhowever, that the obligation of Purchaser to exercise the Top-Up Option and the obligation of the Company to deliver Top-Up Shares upon the exercise of the Top-Up Option is subject to the conditions that (A) no provision of any applicable Law and no applicable order, injunction or other judgment shall prohibit the exercise of the Top-Up Option or the delivery of the Top-Up Shares in respect of such exercise, (B) Purchaser irrevocably commits upon acquisition of the Top-Up Shares to effect the Merger pursuant to Section 2.7, and (C) the number of Top-Up Shares to be issued pursuant to the Top-Up Option does not exceed the number of authorized and unissued shares of Company Common Stock less the maximum number of shares of Company Common Stock potentially necessary for issuance with respect to outstanding Company Equity Awards or other obligations of the Company. The parties will cooperate to ensure that the issuance of the Top-Up Shares is accomplished consistent with all applicable Laws, including compliance with an applicable exemption from registration under the Securities Act. The Top-Up Option shall terminate concurrently with the termination of this Agreement. Purchaser may assign the Top-Up Option and its rights and obligations pursuant to this Section 1.5, in its sole discretion, to Parent.

 -bjmq

February 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

J Crew go-shop ends ... again

Once again ...  no bidders and no one is surprised.  

-bjmq

February 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Genzyme gets its CVR

The Sanofi-Genzyme deal was announced this morning: $74/share cash plus a tradeable CVR:

Terms of the CVR agreement call for additional cash payments under certain circumstances.  The CVR will be publicly traded. The agreement is structured such that the economic upside at each milestone is shared between sanofi-aventis and Genzyme shareholders. The CVR terminates on December 31, 2020 or earlier if the fourth product sales milestone has been achieved.

The one-time milestones and payments can be summarized as follows:

* $1.00 per CVR if specified Cerezyme®/Fabrazyme® production levels are met in 2011
* $1.00 per CVR upon final FDA approval of Lemtrada™ for multiple sclerosis (MS) indication
* $2.00 per CVR if net sales post launch exceed an aggregate of $400 million within specified periods per territory
* $3.00 per CVR if global net sales exceed $1.8 billion
* $4.00 per CVR if global net sales exceed $2.3 billion
* $3.00 per CVR if global net sales exceed $2.8 billion.

Sanofi will be filing a registration statement to register the CVRs with the SEC in the next couple of weeks. 

-bjmq

February 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

158 page Airgas opinion

Download it, get a cup of coffee, close the door, and start reading this primer on the pill, Unocal, and "just say no" defense.  Spoiler alert: Airgas wins and Air Products drops its bid and moves on.  So, looks like no appeal in the works.  

This opinion is a very thorough primer on the Unocal and takeover defenses. I expect it will quickly make its way into casebooks.  Chandler makes it clear early on that he doesn't believe inadequate price is a threat, but that the Supreme Court in its wisdom has decided that inadequate price is a legally cognizable threat, so there isn't much more he can do.  

There's a whole other post to be written on what Kraakman and Gilson really meant by "substantive coercion" in their paper on the Unocal intermediate standard and what half lessons the Delaware Supreme Court took from that paper, but I'll leave that for another day.  For the time being, substantive coercion - my stockholders are too stupid to know what's good for them - survives.  And Interco, well, Interco remains bypassed like an intellectually interesting sideshow.

Anyway, Chandler notes that "Just Say No" isn't "Just Say Never".  It's just "Just Say No" for a really long time.   I'll have to give this a longer more detailed read and will likely post more later.  In the meantime, download and enjoy!

Download Chandler_airgas_opinion.

-bjmq 

February 15, 2011 in Takeover Defenses | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chinese "CFIUS process"

Reuters reports on China's announcement that China will begin subjecting inbound M&A activity to national security reviews - its own version of the US CFIUS process.  Although the US security review system entails a voluntary filing, I suspect the Chinese version that they are currently envisioning will be slightly more intrusive.  Here's the official goverrnmenent announcement (translated by the Google machine):

In order to guide foreign investors and orderly development of the domestic enterprise, safeguard national security, by the State Council, is to establish a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise security review (hereinafter referred to as M & A security review) system in the matter are as follows:


    First, the scope of M & Security Review
    (A) safety review of the range of M & A: Foreign investors, supporting the takeover of a domestic defense industry and military enterprises, key, sensitive military installations around the business, and relationships with other units of national security; foreign investor acquires a domestic national security of the important agricultural products, it is important energy and resources, critical infrastructure, an important transportation services, key technologies and major equipment manufacturing and other enterprises, and the actual control may be achieved by foreign investors.
    (B) a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise, is the following:
    1  foreign investor purchases shares of enterprises with foreign investment or subscribe for capital increase domestic non-foreign-invested enterprises, domestic enterprises to make the change into a foreign-invested enterprises.
    2  foreign investment in a foreign investor purchases the equities of Chinese enterprises, or enterprises with foreign investment capital increase subscription.
    3  foreign investors to establish foreign-invested enterprises and enterprises with foreign investment agreement through the purchase of a domestic enterprise assets and operates its assets, or through the foreign-invested enterprises to purchase shares of domestic enterprises.
    4  the territory of foreign investors to buy corporate assets, and invest the assets of the foreign-invested enterprises operating assets.
    (C) to obtain effective control over foreign investors, foreign investors means a domestic enterprise through the acquisition of a controlling shareholder or actual controller. Include the following:
    1  foreign investors and its parent holding company, subsidiary after the acquisition of the total shares held by more than 50%.
    2  several foreign investors in the acquisition of shares held after the combined total of more than 50%.
    3  foreign investors in the acquisition of shares held after the total amount of less than 50%, but according to their holdings enough to enjoy the right to vote, or the shareholders meeting of shareholders, resolution of the board have a significant impact.
    4  other decision-making led to a domestic enterprise, finance, personnel, technology transfer of effective control over the situation to foreign investors.


    Second, the contents of M & Security Review
    (A) of the M & A transaction on national security, including the defense needs of the domestic production capacity, the domestic services capacity and the impact on equipment and facilities.
    (B) of the M & A transactions on the stable operation of the national economy.
    (C) of the M & A transactions on the impact of basic social order of life.
    (D) M & A transactions involving national security, the impact of key technology R & D capabilities.


    Third, M & A security review mechanism
    (A) the establishment of a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise security review of the Inter-Ministerial Joint Conference (hereinafter referred to as joint) system, the specific commitment to the safety review of mergers and acquisitions.
    (B) under the leadership of the joint meeting of the State Council, the Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce take the lead, according to foreign capital industries and sectors involved, together with relevant departments to carry out M & Security Review.
    (C) of the joint meeting of the main responsibilities are: analysis of a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise to national security; research, coordination of the foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise security review of the major issues; on the need for safety review of the foreign investor business transactions within the safety review and decision.


    Fourth, M & A security review process
    (A) a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise, shall be in accordance with the provisions of this notice by the investor to the Ministry of Commerce to apply. That fall within the scope of the safety review of mergers and acquisitions, the Ministry of Commerce should be brought to within 5 working days to review the joint meeting.
    (B) a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise, relevant State Council departments, national trade associations, industry enterprises and downstream enterprises that require acquisition of security review, conducted by the Ministry of Commerce security review of the proposed merger. Joint acquisitions deemed necessary by the safety review, may decide to conduct the review.
    (C) of the joint review of the Ministry of Commerce deals brought to safety, the first general review of the general review of the failed, to conduct a special review. The parties shall deal with the joint safety review, to provide security review required materials, information, and accepted the inquiry.
    Review of written comments of general way. Ministry of Commerce received the Joint Security Review deals brought to the application, within 5 working days, the departments concerned to seek a written opinion. After receiving the additional request in writing the relevant departments, should be within 20 working days to submit written observations. Such as the departments concerned that the deal does not affect national security, are no longer conduct a special review by the joint meeting of all the written comments received within 5 working days to review comments, and written notice to the Ministry of Commerce.
    M & A transactions, if any departments that may impact on national security, joint written comments should be received within 5 working days after the start the special review process. Start the special review procedures, joint organization of the safety assessment of mergers and acquisitions, combined with assessment of the review of M & A transactions, basically the same comments, review comments made by the joint meeting; there are significant differences, by the joint meeting of the State Council for decision. Joint meeting since the launch of special review procedures within 60 working days to complete special reviews, or to the State Council decision. Review comments in writing by the joint meeting of the Ministry of Commerce.
    (D) the safety review process in the acquisition, the applicant may apply to the Ministry of Commerce program to modify or withdraw merger transaction.
    (E) acquisition of security review was made by the applicant written notice of the Ministry of Commerce.
    (Vi) acts of a foreign investor acquires a domestic enterprise to national security have caused or may cause significant impact on the joint meeting with the relevant departments should be required to terminate the Ministry of Commerce of the transaction parties, or transfer the relevant shares, assets or other effective measures to eliminate the merger and acquisition on national security.

    V. Other provisions
    (A) the relevant departments and units to establish the overall concept, enhance a sense of responsibility and keeping state secrets and commercial secrets, improve efficiency, expanding opening up and foreign investment to improve standards at the same time, promote the healthy development of foreign capital to safeguard national security.
    (B) the acquisition of domestic enterprises involving foreign investors new investment in fixed assets, fixed assets investment by state regulations for project approval.
    (C) acquisition of domestic enterprises involving foreign investors to change the state-owned property, the management of state assets by state regulations.
    (D) a foreign investor acquires a domestic financial institutions, security review separately.
    (E) Hong Kong SAR, Macao Special Administrative Region, Taiwan investors in mergers and acquisitions, with reference to the provisions of this notice.
    (Vi) M&A safety review system since the date of the notice issued 30 days after implementation.

Rules for this review process are expected to be released in March.

-bjmq

February 12, 2011 in Asia, Cross-Border, Exon-Florio, Miscellaneous Regulatory Clearances | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Avoiding change in control provisions

Back in the fall of 2009 Merck acquired Schering-Plough.  In order to avoid triggering a change in control provision that would have resulted in Schering-Plough losing its license to sell Remicade- a $3 billion a year drug for them, the parties structured the transaction as a reverse merger and had Schering-Plough acquire Merck, with Schering-Plough as the surviving corporation.  Then the changed Schering-Plough's corporate name to Merck.  Yeah, it seems too cute by just about half.  In any event, J&J challenged the S-P/Remicade license in arbitration arguing that there was a change in control - even if S-P was the surviving corporation and that the whole transaction structure was an artifice intended to avoid the change in control provision.  Of course, they're right.  But does that matter?   Reuters is now reporting that the arbitrator's decision could come down any time now.  Here's the story. 

-bjmq

February 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SPAC regulation

James Murray has recently posted a nice over-view of the regulation of Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicles (SPACs).  You download it on SSRN - The Regulation and Pricing of Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation IPOs.

Abstract:  Special Purpose Acquisition Corporations (SPACs) are large blank check companies formed to acquire operating assets or an existing business. They provide public investors with a private equity style investment with the security of having the majority of their funds returned if an acceptable business combination is not approved within a set time limit. While originally restricted to the OTC market SPACs gained a more prominent role as AMEX began listing them in 2005, followed by the NYSE and NASDAQ in 2008. For firms with such uncertainty about their future prospects there is surprisingly little mispricing evident in their IPOs. Valuing SPACs is complicated by the warrants included in the unit offers. Examination of the stock and warrants in SPAC units suggests that investors may be simply pricing the units based on the offer price or the market price of recent issues, pricing stock at a small discount to liquidation value, and pricing warrants as the residual difference between unit and stock prices.

-bjmq

February 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More HuffPost

While we await the Airgas decision, Steve Pearlstein (who I had the pleasure of meeting once in Saigon) has some thoughts in the Washington Post on the AOL-HuffPost merger.  He thinks its the AOL-TimeWarner deal all over again: AOL looking for a route away from dial-up access and into contet.  This time, though he thinks it might make more sense.   I tend to think that he is right.  This deal is more manageable and less grandiose in scale.  HuffPost has an active Internet community and content that it can more or less plug right into the AOL suite.  That's a far cry from visions on delivering all of Warner's movie catalogue over the Internet to AOL subs.  But ... wait a minute ... isn't that basically happening now - 12 years later?  Maybe it was too much to soon the first time around and this time will be better.  Time will tell.  At least Arianna got cash.

-bjmq

February 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HuffPost-AOL

All you need to know about the AOL - HufPost merger.

Of course, more interesting is the behind scenes corporate law story about who actually owns Huffington Post.  Christine Hurt over at The Conglomerate has the complete run-down on the lawsuit and what's at stake.

-bjmq

February 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Airgas today

 
Airgas will be back in a Delaware court today.  I'll be dropping in and out of the proceedings thanks to the good people at CourtroomView Network and updating the blog regularly during the day.

-bjmq

Update: David Marcus reminds us that even if Chandler orders the pill pulled today, that Sec. 203 is still in play.  

Air Products is now making the argument that pill has served its purpose and has should now be pulled to permit the shareholders to make a decision whether to accept the offer.  The pill is - per Air Products - no longer proportional.   Mr. Nachbar is essentially making the Interco argument.  It's all about balance.  Pills are not outlawed, but they are subject to limitations.  The courts have rejected an ulimited use of the pill.  Uh-oh...now he's showing a clip from The Deal of a recent interview with Marty Lipton recollecting the invention of the pill (we've previously posted that clip on this site and you can get it again here).

Nachbar-APD

Citing a 1987 Marty Lipton article in the U Penn Law Review - Corporate Governance in the Age of Financial Corporatism - in which Nachbar argues that Lipton recginized there are limits to the valid use of pills and that under certain circumstances courts should require a pill to be redeemed.  His quotes from the paper read like they came straight out of Air Products' brief.  Ouch.  Hey! Who's on trial here?!  From the article (p75):

Thus, under conditions that ensure that a bidder is not abusing the tender offer process, the second generation pill allows the target's shareholders to determine the fate of the company after disclosure of all relevant information and with sufficient time to consider and act on such information.

Nachbar has moved on the Interco and Blasius.  Back at Lipton again.  This time citing his 2002 Chicago Law Review paper - Pills, Polls, and Professors Redux.  Nachbar is making the point that all of the caveats in the paper that Lipton noted would be required before a pill should be pulled and the shareholders should be permitted to decide have all been met.   He's using Lipton's own written record to argue that the defendants are moving the goal-posts. 

 Nachbar is giving a shout-out to Lucien Bebchuk's recent Airgas natural experiment paper.  Chancellor Chandler wants to know if the Airgas experience is generalizable to all firms and is - playfully - suggesting Prof. Bebchuk write a paper on that topic.  I think that was the point of Bebchuk's study, but whatever. 

Citing the Shark Repellent data that only 11% of public firms now have pills in place -- presumbably that means that stockholders don't like pills.  But, of the firms that don't have pills in place, how many could put one in place in less than 10 minutes during a board meeting?  How about all of them.  It's not a strong argument.

Wrapping up ... I think.  His summary - ruling for Air Products won't end the world.   On the other hand, ruling for Airgas means that any firm with a staggered board and a pill will forever be - essentially, if not absolutely - takeover proof.  The defensive measures have long since served their purpose.  It's time for the shareholders should decide.  The board has offered no good reason why the shareholders should not be permitted to decide on an informed basis.  The offer is non-coercive, the shareholders are informed, so he argues that Delaware law is "clear" that the continuing use of the pill is not a proportionate response to a non-extistent threat.  Now, Nachbar sits and the court takes a 10 minute recess.

Back. Another Air Products Plaintiff shareholder attorney making an argument - sorry, don't know who she is [ed. Pamela Tikkelis]. In general, all the information is out there.  There are no surprises, the offer is at a premium of any potential trading bands.  All other options have been considered - LBO, recap, white knight - and rejected by the board. So, what threat is left?  Not much.  Potentially an injury to an informed minority - she recaps a colloquy between Chandler and McCausland. 

  APD-Attny

OK, now we've moved on the the Airgas defense.  Airgas' attorney stands up and says this is an easy case.   The cases say that the board can take actions to defeat an offer, to kill it.  The board is fully within its rights (and obligations) to use the pill to pursue the long term interests of the corporation.  He points out that the Interco argument was specifically rejected in Paramount.   The Supreme Court has made it clear that the board is not obliged to abandon a strategy unless there is no basis to sustain the corporate strategy.  The corporate plan, he argues, is credible and one that Airgas has been pursuing since before the offer.  It's not cooked up as a litigation strategy.

Airgas-Attny

He asks - if the director has a duty to oppose an inadequate offer, how can it be a violation of those same duties when a board determines an offer is inadequate and fights against it.  He's now pulling out the Air Products nominees and wielding them against APD.  These guys were supposed to be independent and it turns out they were.  They weren't puppets of APD and now they are also opposed to APD's offer.  The new directors agreed with the incumbent directors.  Ouch, again. 

 Buttering up Chandler by reading back to him the "highest authority" - Chandler's opinion in Unitrin.  The three new directors agreed with the incumbents - therefore there is no basis that the board acted outside the realm of reasonableness.  Anyway, if the shareholders don't like it, they vote out the entire board with a supermajority vote (citing Unocal and Aronson, 141(k), 211(b)).  More buttering up of Chandler by talking approvingly of the Chancery Court opinion in Unitrin.

Now attacking APD's decision to decide to take the company through a strategy of getting control of the board through two annual meetings rather than using the supermajority route to oust the directors.  The argument being - the reason that we're here at all is because APD decided to drag the process out, and try to low-ball shareholders.  Key to that strategy was to put friendly directors on the board.  Well, that didn't work out.

Let's see now going through and rebutting what he calls the plaintiff's campaign slogans.  His point-by-point rebuttals are summarized in the slide below:

Slogans

Going after the arbs:  The board does not have a duty to short term stockholders - transient majority.  It would be a terrible rule of law if a company must sell because of arbs - that companies must abandon plans and chase bids that are on the table rather than long-term shareholder value.  Citing Dollar Thrifty - Delaware law does not require a sale whenever there is an offer on the table.

Ho-ho-ho we're showing video clips from Streetcar Named Desire!!  Black and White - no colorized version for you.  "Whoever you are...I've always depended on the kindness of strangers..."  And the shareholders are supposed to be depending on the kindness of strangers... I get it.   OK, that's fine the classroom, but let's keep the video clips out of the courtroom.  Lunch?  Chandler suggests popcorn.  Back at 2pm.

 

 

OK, just dropping back into the arguments.  Airgas is up arguing that the APD tender offer is coercive because of the involvement of arbs.  

Airgas managers are in the best position to determine what is a good offer for shareholders.  For example, look at the transformation of APD's directors.  When they were on the outside they thought that APD's offer was fair. Once they got inside the tent and got more information than the shareholders they changed their mind.  

Chandler-APD

Chancellor Chandler makign a point about what he meant by "best and final offer" in his communications to the parties. 

An aside:  They've not spent much time on this issue, yet but there's a question in the comments on 203 (see David Marcus above).  Yes, that's still out there.  I think this is a harder argument for APD to make.  203 is a statutory power.   The language of the statute does not require any reasonableness standard be applied to a board's decision not to waive 203.   I assume APD will argue that the court should read into 203 a reasonableness standard, but I think that will be a hard sell.  We'll see, though. 

.. OK, Airgas is still arguing that the APD best and final offer is not really a best and final offer.  It's just a negotiating tactic - notwithstanding what APD has already told the court.  It's all about "bester and finaler" offers... if best and final doesn't mean that, then the pill still has a purpose. 

Airgas - investors do better when boards resist unwanted bids.  Maybe.   But, what if the bidder walks?  I don't think the data is so uncategorical.  

 Anyway, Airgas has now moved onto the question of the threat analysis under Unocal.  Again with the Chancery Court opinion in Unitrin! 

February 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Genzyme & Sanofi boards' Sunday meetings

Reuters is reporting that Genzyme and Sanofi's respective boards will be meeting on Sunday.   A couple of things: 

The deal is expected to be priced at $74 in cash, or $19.2 billion, based on Genzyme's outstanding shares of 258.99 million as of October 29, plus a contingent value right, or CVR, with an intrinsic value of $5 to $6 a share, the sources said.

Reuters is also indicating that the CVR will be registered and thus tradable.  We'll see.  I suppose there will be some interesting reading on Monday morning. 

-bjmq

February 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Of unexpected links

The guys over at the Business Law Prof blog have a sense of humor.  That's good.

-bjmq 

February 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)