Corporate & Securities Law Blog

Up-to-date Information on Corporate & Securities Law

In In re GGP Stockholder Litigation, 2022 WL 2815820 (Del. July 19, 2022), an M&A transaction split the merger consideration into two parts: an oversized pre-closing dividend totaling over $9 billion, followed by a nominal post-closing payment of about 31 cents a share. In this case, a majority of the Delaware Supreme Court concluded that divvying up merger consideration in this manner does not defeat a dissenting stockholder’s appraisal rights. The majority held that a pre-closing dividend (at least one dependent upon the consummation of the transaction) is part and parcel of the total “merger consideration,” and therefore will
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Holds Novel Pre-Closing Dividend Transaction Structure Does Not Thwart Appraisal Remedy

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has implications for whistleblowers under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act” or “The Act”). In Hong v. SEC, No. 21-529 (2d Cir. July 21, 2022), the Court held that a person who provides the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) with information about potential securities laws violations is entitled to receive a whistleblower award under Section 21F of the Securities Exchange Act (15 U.S.C. § 78u-6)if the SEC itself brings a qualifying action, but not when the SEC shares the whistleblower’s information
Continue Reading Second Circuit Limits Scope of SEC Whistleblower Incentives

In SEC v. Rio Tinto PLC, No. 21-2042, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 19577 (2d Cir. July 15, 2022) (Jacobs, J.), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to impose “scheme liability” under subsections (a) and (c) of the Securities & Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5 (17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5) where the challenged conduct amounted solely to the making of a material misstatement or omission. The Rio Tinto decision is noteworthy because it limits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lorenzo v. SEC, 139 S. Ct. 1094 (2019) (blog article here), which potentially expanded “scheme liability”
Continue Reading Second Circuit Declines to Allow SEC Rule 10b-5 Claim for “Scheme Liability” to Proceed Where the Alleged Misconduct Amounted Only to the Making of Material Misstatements or Omissions 

Federal agencies aggressively pursued enforcement actions in June. At the same time, state and federal regulators continued to recognize the importance of blockchain industry regulation by putting forth significant policy proposals, including proposals that impact cryptocurrency miners, 401k plans, and more.
Continue Reading June 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions and Regulatory Guidance Roundup

The Department of Justice recently filed a complaint to prevent Booz Allen Hamilton’s $440 million acquisition of “agile and innovative” competitor EverWatch, Inc.[1] Among the notable aspects of the complaint is its definition of the relevant market as a single NSA contract and its assertion that the merger agreement itself constituted a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
Continue Reading DOJ Sues to Block Merger Between Booz Allen Hamilton and EverWatch Based on Antitrust Concerns Relating to Single-Contract Market

In Fowler v. Golden Pacific Bancorp, Inc., 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 548 (Cal. App. June 23, 2022), the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District (Krause, J.), reinforced the near absolute right of directors of a California corporation to inspect their company’s books and records pursuant to Section 1602 of the California Corporations Code. The Court clarified that these rights hold even when the director has a conflict of interest or is involved in litigation with the corporation. Generally, directors may be denied access to books and records only in the most extreme cases, such as when evidence shows the director
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Reaffirms Broad Inspection Rights Accorded to Directors Under Section 1602 of the California Corporations Code

Since President Biden’s July 2021 direction to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” the FTC has ratcheted up its scrutiny of and investigations into non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants. Now, the FTC has expanded beyond post-employment restrictive covenants to tackle “sale of business” non-competes. Most recently, the FTC voted in favor of a deal-changing proposed order against ARKO Corp. related to its 2021 acquisition of sixty fuel outlets from Corrigan Oil Company.
Continue Reading Buyer (and Seller) Beware: The FTC Is Coming for Your M&A Non-Competes

Technology solutions for the transfer, storage and management of electronic files and other digital content is vitally important for organizations to meet compliance obligations, ensure adequate data security and to administer company data generally.  Companies that provide solutions in this space – including in managed file transfer (MFT), file transfer protocol (FTP), cloud content storage and management and file sync-share, among others – are therefore very attractive targets for buyers in the “software-as-a-service” space.  Given that these businesses are charged with safeguarding their client’s precious data, however, there are unique issues in doing deals involving these types of businesses, which
Continue Reading Buying and Selling a File Management, Storage and Transfer Business

In May, we saw a slower month for crypto enforcement actions by state and federal regulators. See our March 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions Roundup blog here where we discuss the regulatory guidance and jurisdiction of federal and state agencies to enforce these matters.
Continue Reading May 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions and Regulatory Guidance Roundup

In Sirott v. Superior Court, 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 389 (Cal. App. May 5, 2022), the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal (Humes, J.) analyzed the ownership requirements a plaintiff must satisfy to pursue derivative claims on behalf of a limited liability company.  Under California Corporations Code § 17709.02 (“Section 17709.02”), a putative derivative plaintiff must show both “contemporaneous” and “continuous” ownership to proceed with a derivative lawsuit.  Subject to certain statutorily defined exceptions, the contemporaneous ownership prerequisite requires the plaintiff to plead that it was a member of the limited liability company at the time of
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Clarifies that a Derivative Plaintiff Must Demonstrate Both “Contemporaneous” and “Continuous” Ownership to Maintain a Derivative Suit on Behalf of a Limited Liability Company

In Crest v. Padilla, No. 19STCV27561, 2022 WL 1565613 (Cal. Super. May 13, 2022), the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles (Duffy-Lewis, J.) issued a decision following a bench trial finding that Senate Bill 826 (“SB 826”), California’s law requiring gender diversity on boards of directors, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.  The ruling comes after a decision in a different case issued in April of this year, which found that Assembly Bill 979 (“AB 979”), which required publicly held corporations with principal executive offices in California to include “underrepresented communities” on
Continue Reading Los Angeles Superior Court Invalidates California Law Requiring Gender Diversity on Company Boards

In April, we continued to see a steady pace in the seriousness and frequency of crypto enforcement actions by state and federal law enforcement.  (See our March 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions Roundup blog here where we discuss the regulatory guidance and jurisdiction of federal and state agencies to enforce these matters.)
Continue Reading April 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions And Regulatory Guidance Roundup

In Crest v. Padilla, No. 20STCV37513 (Cal. Super. Apr. 1, 2022), the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles (Green, J.) declared that Section 301.4 of the California Corporations Code is unconstitutional under the California state Constitution.  Section 301.4 requires publicly held corporations which have their principal executive offices located in California to include “underrepresented communities” on their boards of directors.  The trial court granted the taxpayer plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the statute violated equal protection clause of the California Constitution.  The court’s decision renders the constitutionality of Section 301.4 ripe for appellate
Continue Reading Los Angeles Superior Court Invalidates California Board Diversity Statute, Rendering It Ripe for Review by the California Court of Appeal

In the wake of President Biden’s March 9, 2022, executive order outlining his Administration’s desire to establish a comprehensive federal approach to crypto policy and regulation,[1] federal agencies are continuing to focus on enforcement of crypto under existing regulations. Although NFTs and cryptocurrencies are novel technologies, they still fall squarely within the jurisdiction of various federal agencies’ current jurisdictions, as illustrated by three recent enforcement actions by the CFTC, the SEC, and the DOJ.[2]
Continue Reading March 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions Roundup

In Tola v. Bryant, No. 16150, 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 241 (Cal. App. Mar. 24, 2022), the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal applied Delaware’s new formulation of the test for determining whether a stockholder has standing to assert derivative claims on behalf of a company.  Under the test articulated by the Delaware Supreme Court in United Food & Commercial Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, 262 A.3d 1034, 1058 (Del. 2021), a stockholder of a Delaware corporation has standing to assert derivative claims when the stockholder can plead particularized facts, on a director-by-director basis, demonstrating that
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Addresses Derivative Standing and Failure of Oversight Claims Under Delaware Law

On March 30, 2022 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced its 2022 examination priorities. Among the “significant focus areas” is Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) investing. SEC examiners will be scrutinizing disclosures by registered investment advisors (“RIA”) that advertise ESG strategies or claim to incorporate certain ESG criteria, to ensure disclosures regarding portfolio management practices do not involve materially false and misleading statements or omissions.
Continue Reading SEC Announces 2022 Examination Priorities, Includes ESG