Thursday, October 30, 2014
Nixon Peabody has just released its annual MAC survey. It's worth downloading to check-in on the latest trends with respect to MACs in merger agreements. The biggest change in recent years appears to be the steady adoption of carveouts for changes in legal regulation that might affect the target. So, in the past deals would be able to point to changes in legal regulations that adversely affect the value of the target as reasons to walk, increasingly that's not an excuse that will work any more as more of that risk is shifted to buyers.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Students in my just completed M&A class will enjoy Rick Climan's latest installment of this series of mock negotiations with Keith Flaum. This one on a potentially controversial customary carveout to the MAE.
The lesson -- even though everyone is including it, doesn't mean you have to!
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
OK, so it's that time of year for students all over the country...you're starting to study for exams. I know, I know, if you are my students you have been more than diligent. You've read ahead, you've come to office hours, etc. You can walk through a merger agreement with your eyes closed by now. I'm not worried about you. I'm worried about all those other students... For their edification, here's the latest in Rick Climan's 5 minute series on merger agreements. This one - part 1 of 2 deals with negotiating the Material Adverse Change/Material Adverse Effect clause.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Get this ... Buzzfeed breaks merger news: Will Shuanghui back out of the Smithfield transaction now that Smithfield has walked away from Paula Deen? For those of you not paying attention, here's all the Paula Deen news you could possibly want. My guess is that Shuanghui is acquiring Smithfield for reasons that have nothing to do with Ms. Deen.
If you take a long term view of the economics driving Shuanghui's acquisition, losing Ms. Deen isn't even a blip on the radar. Given the standard that for a court to determine there has been a material adverse change sufficient to permit a buyer to walk, the event in question has to be one that "substantially threatens the overall earnings potential of the target in a durationally-significant manner." Frankly the loss of Ms. Deen just doesn't meet that standard, especially when one looks at the access Smithfield will have to new export markets in Asia once the aquisition is completed.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Macia and Moeller of TCU have posted their paper, Signaling and Risk Allocation in Merger Agreements. They argue that targets use firm specific MAC carveouts to signal their unobservable quality. By declining to include firm specific MAC carveouts (e.g. carveouts relating to restatements or CEO retention, etc), high quality firms are able to create a separation from low quality firms that tend to include more firm specific MAC carveouts. It's an interesting paper. I will ignore (not really) their subtle finance dig:
[T]here are only few rigorous academic studies about MAC clauses, arguably because of a lack of readily available data. Instead, MAC clauses have been almost exclusively studied by practitioners and legal scholars.
Ahem...ok, temper in check. Here's the abstract:
Acquirers and targets allocate interim risk in merger agreements through Material Adverse Change (MAC) clauses and exclusions [bjmq: e.g. carveouts]. While virtually all acquisitions have MAC clauses, there is broad cross-sectional variation in the number and type of MAC exclusions. Using comprehensive hand-collected data, we find that acquisitions with fewer firm-specific MAC exclusions, i.e., stronger abandonment options for the acquirers, are associated with higher acquirer announcement returns, higher combined surplus gains, higher target announcement returns, and better prior target performance. Fewer firm-specific MAC exclusions appear to be credible signals of higher target quality and are more prevalent when information asymmetries are likely high and signaling is particularly beneficial. In contrast, more market-wide MAC exclusions are not associated with higher acquirer or target gains although acquirers tend to assume the largely exogenous, market-wide interim risk when the expected completion periods are longer.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Here's a tidbit from the ongoing Skyworks/AATI arbitration:
A preliminary hearing was held before Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Court of Chancery on October 7, 2011 on the petitions for arbitration filed on September 26, 2011 by Skyworks Solutions, Inc., a Delaware corporation, against Advanced Analogic Technologies Incorporated and the petition for arbitration filed on September 23, 2011 by AATI against Skyworks in the Delaware Court of Chancery in connection with the parties' May 26, 2011 Merger Agreement. At the preliminary hearing, Chancellor Strine ordered the two petitions consolidated for all purposes of the arbitration proceedings, and ordered that the arbitration hearing take place on November 28, 29 and 30 and, if additional time is needed, one or more days during the week of December 5.
OK, that's ten weeks from filing to hearing. Although the results will be confidential, both parties have obligations to file something under the securities rules, so we'll presumably be able to find out the outcome of the arbitration hearing. What won't happen is that the result of the hearing will not become part of the Delaware common law. So, if for example the court were to find that there was a MAC, no one else can rely on the decision, or its reasoning, to plan transactions or counsel clients about how future courts might decide.
Monday, October 10, 2011
According to Reuters, Innkeepers and Cerberus are now in settlement talks:
Innkeepers USA Trust is in talks to resolve litigation over the collapse of a planned $1.12 billion asset sale to Cerberus Capital Management Chatham Lodging Trust .
Innkeepers Chief Restructuring Officer Marc Beilinson said in a statement that the two sides were negotiating on Monday, but no agreement had been reached.
You'll remember that Cerberus tried to get Innkeepers to renegotiate its transaction before calling a MAC. Although Cerberus' MAC claim seemed weak, the strategy seems to nevertheless have worked. Presumably settlement negotiations will lead to a repricing of the transaction before it goes forward.
A source close to the talks told Reuters discussions began over the weekend and that the sides had exchanged proposals and were far along in the process. The deal would feature a reduction in the purchase price, said this person, who spoke anonymously on details of a possible settlement because the talks are private.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
According to Reuters, Cerberus has blamed the poor economy for its MAC its deal with Innkeepers. In Cerberus' reply to Innkeepers' complaint, they blame "unforeseeable, unprecedented, and materially adverse economic developments", namely the prospect of a double-dip recession, for the claimed MAC. So...if I can find a reputable economist, like Krugman or Roubini, who was predicting a double-dip recession in say July, then the economic developments would no longer be unforeseeable?
Anyway, the reply also seems to stick it in Innkeepers' nose that the MAC was really, really broad, essentially giving Cerberus a contractual right to walk away from the deal at the slightest event:
Doesn't really matter anyway. The essence of Cerberus' reply is "so what?" They argue that it doesn't really matter whether the court decides there isn't a MAC, because the parties agreed to a $20 million reverse termination fee as liquidated damages in the event of a contractual breach by Cerberus.
The argument is that Cerberus didn't actually acquire Innkeepers, it acquired an option to purchase Innkeepers. To top it off, if the court decides there was a MAC, then Cerberus wants its deposit back. Ouch. That would hurt.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
So now Innkeepers has filed a complaint against Cerberus in the SDNY challenging Cerberus' decision to call a MAC on its acquisition of Innkeepers.
The MAC as it appears in the Commitment Letter is as follows:
The occurrence of any condition, change or development that could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on the business, assets, liabilities (actual or contingent), or operations, condition (financial or otherwise) or prospects of the Fixed/Floating Debtors taken as a whole . . .
Here's the Innkeepers' complaint. They are looking for specific performance. The crux of their argument is that while there may have been some market volatility recently, there has been no material adverse change. Consequently, there is no basis for Cerberus to walk away from the transaction. Indeed, Innkeepers argues that the subject of the MAC clause - the Fixed/Floating Debtors - are doing just fine, thank you very much. Recent market volatility has - according to Innkeepers - is not relevant to the performance of the properties in question and in any event was foreseeable at the time of the contract. They accuse Cerberus of trying to force a renegotiation of terms.
My best guess is that Innkeepers has the better side of the argument here, although that's left to be seen. We'll continue to follow this case as it develops.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Cerberus and Chatham Partners, LP have reportedly walked away (here: Deal Journal's coveragel) from their deal to acquire Innkeepers out of bankruptcy citing a MAC. You can find the bankruptcy filings here. There is no MAC in the APA. The MAC that the acquirers are citing can be found Term Sheet (Exhibit B to the Binding Amendment Commitment Letter - Exhibit F). Here's the relevant termination language from the Term Sheet:
Unless otherwise agreed by the Plan Sponsors in writing, the Plan Sponsors may terminate the Amended Commitment Letter and Term Sheet by written notice to the Company and the Special Servicer upon the earliest occurrence of the following events (each a “Termination Event”):
6. The occurrence of any condition, change or development that could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on the business, assets, liabilities (actual or contingent), or operations, condition (financial or otherwise) or prospects of the Fixed/Floating Debtors taken as a whole; provided, however, that this Termination Event shall not apply to the chapter 11 case of Grand Prix West Palm Beach LLC;
This is mighty buyer friendly MAC language. No carveouts for anything except one specific contingency. That's pretty unusual these days. Cerberus and Chatham are apparently citing some change since May when they agreed to acquire Inkeepers. I think things have been generally bad since May, haven't they? OK, there has been a bit of recent volatility since early August, but hey ... isn't that just more of the same these days? You'd think that someone making an acquisition of a business out of bankruptcy would anticipate the effects of temporary volatility or an additional downturn on the business. In IBP Shareholders Litigation, the Delaware Chancery Court set the bar for invoking a MAC pretty high:
... [the MAC] is best read as a backstop protecting the acquiror from the occurrence of unknown events that substantially threaten the overall earnings potential of the target in a durationally-significant manner. A short-term hiccup in earnings should not suffice; rather the Material Adverse Effect should be material when viewed from the longer-term perspective of a reasonable acquiror.
Or maybe Cerberus is telling us something about their longer-term view on the state of the economy?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Don Tyson passed today. Without Don Tyson there would be no In re IBP, Inc. Shareholder Litigation. Remember it was Don Tyson who decided to walk away from Tyson's acquisition of IBP and then call a MAC.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This blog made a bit of a splash a couple of years ago when first were trying to invoke MACs left and right. Of course, the world seemed like it was about to collapse. If that's not a MAC, then what is? In any event, things have been relatively quiet on the MAC front of late. But that's not to say they aren't still important and not heavily negotiated. Nixon Peabody put some associates to work researching MACs in 345 transactions over the past year and now have a report summarizing their findings. You can find it here.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
[1.01] ... “Company Material Adverse Effect” means a material adverse effect on the financial condition, business, assets or results of operations of the Company and its Subsidiaries, taken as a whole, excluding any effect resulting from, arising out of or relating to (A) changes in the financial or securities markets or general economic or political conditions in the United States or elsewhere in the world, (B) other than with respect to changes to Applicable Laws related to hydraulic fracturing or similar processes that would reasonably be expected to have the effect of making illegal or commercially impracticable such hydraulic fracturing or similar processes (which changes may be taken into account in determining whether there has been a Company Material Adverse Effect), changes or conditions generally affecting the oil and gas exploration, development and/or production industry or industries (including changes in oil, gas or other commodity prices), (C) other than with respect to changes to Applicable Laws related to hydraulic fracturing or similar processes that would reasonably be expected to have the effect of making illegal or commercially impracticable such hydraulic fracturing or similar processes (which changes may be taken into account in determining whether there has been a Company Material Adverse Effect), any change in Applicable Law or the interpretation thereof or GAAP or the interpretation thereof, [italics mine] (D) the negotiation, execution, announcement or consummation of the transactions contemplated by this Agreement, including any adverse change in customer, distributor, supplier or similar relationships resulting therefrom, (E) acts of war, terrorism, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or other natural disasters, (F) any failure by the Company or any of its Subsidiaries to meet any internal or published industry analyst projections or forecasts or estimates of revenues or earnings for any period (it being understood and agreed that the facts and circumstances that may have given rise or contributed to such failure that are not otherwise excluded from the definition of a Company Material Adverse Effect may be taken into account in determining whether there has been a Company Material Adverse Effect), (G) any change in the price of the Company Stock on the NYSE (it being understood and agreed that the facts and circumstances that may have given rise or contributed to such change (but in no event changes in the trading price of Parent Stock) that are not otherwise excluded from the definition of a Company Material Adverse Effect may be taken into...
Fracking appears not once but twice in the carve-outs to the carve-outs of the MAE - so important is it to the deal. What the parties have done here is that they have taken the MAE definition, which is typically written to leave foreseeable risks with the buyer and unforeseeable risks with the seller and left a foreseeable and entirely likely risk with the seller. So, in the event something freaky happens that no one could have foresee, the buyer is able to walk away. On the other hand, if there is a foreseeable event, one that presumably the buyer could price into the transaction, then the buyer remains in the hook for close the transaction. Now, a spokesman for Exxon says that the deal is subject to "a number of customary provisions for a transaction of this nature."
Sunday, October 25, 2009
OK, so now that BAC has started turning over internal e-mails to the House Committee on Oversight, it's not looking so good ... especially for the lawyers. Law.com/Corporate Counsel has had access to the e-mail and it's quite a tangled web.
The e-mails show that early on the morning of Dec. 19 [Eric] Roth [, a litigation partner at Wachtell] advised the bank's chief executive, Ken Lewis, and its interim general counsel, Brian Moynihan, on how difficult and financially risky it would be to try to invoke a so-called MAC -- or material adverse change -- clause, which would allow the bank to get out of the merger with Merrill.
But another e-mail from associate general counsel Teresa Brenner to Moynihan, sent several hours later and on the same day as Roth's e-mail, says, "Eric made a very strong case as to why there was a MAC" during a conference call with some officials from the Federal Reserve.
Later, Roth writes another e-mail to the legal/business team:
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I received a couple of questions offline about Lewis’ “MAC-attack” and whether a MAC claim would have plausible (who knew we had readers in Europe?!). The strength of a potential MAC claim by BAC was well covered by Steven a couple of weeks ago at the Deal Professor (Assessing a MAC Claim: The Lewis Ostrich Defense). I’d like to address Lewis’ concern. He apparently told Paulson/Bernanke that he feared shareholders would sue him for not claiming a MAC. It’s hard to imagine that this was anything other than a threat to get the Fed/Treasury to put up more cash. Why? Well, the lawsuit he suggests is one that wouldn’t go very far.
Alvarez’ assessment of a potential lawsuit was correct. Any suit for failure to claim a MAC would start with the BAC board enjoying the protection of the business judgment rule, which we all remember is a presumption that “the directors of [the] corporation acted on an informed basis, in good faith and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the company. Thus, the party attacking a board decision as uninformed must rebut the presumption that its business judgment was an informed one.”
That means that any challenge to BAC decision not to invoke a MAC in the agreement would have had to fight a very steep uphill battle. To succeed, plaintiffs would have had to make the case the BAC board was uninformed/unreasonable. Since proving a MAC is extremely difficult to do in any event, it’s not clear at all that a board having discussed and considered the circumstances – which it appears clear from the abundance of the e-mails was happening -- would have made an unreasonable or uninformed decision by not attempting to claim a MAC. Basically, plaintiffs would have to make the case that finding a MAC would have been a “no-brainer” for a court looking at the facts and that the board was somehow absent when it neglected to reach the same conclusion in order to come close to winning on a claim against BAC’s board. I’m pretty confident that a court would pretty quickly dismiss such a suit.
So, what was Lewis afraid of beyond the
inconvenience/embarrassment of a lawsuit?
Who knows, but he’s got all the inconvenience you can imagine by having
to appear in front of Congress on a near regular basis these days. More likely, the threat of being forced into calling a MAC because of "shareholder pressure" and a potential lawsuit was just a negotiating tactic to get more support from the Fed.