Corporate & Securities Law Blog

Up-to-date Information on Corporate & Securities Law

In United Food & Commercial Workers Union & Participating Food Industry Employers Tri-State Pension Fund v. Zuckerberg, No. 404, 2020, — A.3d –, 2021 WL 3433261 (Del. Sept. 23, 2021), the Delaware Supreme Court adopted a new three-pronged test for determining whether pre-suit demand by a stockholder plaintiff would have been futile.  This new test builds up and refines the Aronson and Rales demand futility tests for derivative claims.  The Court’s decision comes on the heels of Brookfield Asset Mgmt. v. Rosson, where the Court clarified derivative standing by overruling the oft-criticized direct-and-derivative “dual-natured” claim under Gentile v.
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Adopts New Three-Prong Test for Demand Futility

In Brookfield Asset Mgmt. v. Rosson, No. 406, 2020, 2021 Del. LEXIS 291 (Del. Sept. 20, 2021), the Delaware Supreme Court held that claims for wrongful equity dilution may be pursued only derivatively on behalf of the corporation and not directly.  Brookfield is noteworthy because it overruled Gentile v. Rossette, 906 A.2d 91 (Del. 2006), which previously permitted stockholder plaintiffs to assert direct claims for equity dilution where a controlling stockholder orchestrated a dilutive equity issuance that expropriated both economic value and voting power from the minority stockholders.  The Delaware Supreme Court revisited the Gentile rule, in part,
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Holds that Equity Dilution and Expropriation Claims May Only Be Brought Derivatively, Overruling Prior Precedent

Last week, Coinbase Global Inc. (“Coinbase”) headed off confrontation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) by announcing it was shelving a much ballyhooed digital asset lending product, Lend.  The announcement came two weeks after Coinbase revealed that it had received a Wells notice from the SEC warning the company of its plans to sue over Coinbase’s planned October Lend launch.
Continue Reading A September to Remember: Coinbase Avoids SEC Clash by Dropping Crypto Lend Product

In Manti Holdings, LLC v. Authentix Acquisition Co., Inc., No. 354, 2020, 2021 WL 4165159 (Del. Sept. 13, 2021), the Delaware Supreme Court issued an important opinion affirming the use of stockholders agreements by and among Delaware corporations and its stockholders to waive stockholders’ rights of appraisal under Section 262 of the Delaware General Corporation Law.  The Manti Holdings decision further solidifies Delaware’s strong policy preference of freedom of contract and private ordering, and confirms that Delaware corporations can have its stockholders waive appraisal rights.  Note, however, that not every appraisal waiver may be valid.  It also raises the
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Affirms the Use of Stockholders Agreements to Waive Appraisal Rights

The American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) requires the full cost of COBRA premiums to be subsidized for COBRA continuation coverage during the period from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 (“Subsidy Period”) of certain assistance-eligible individuals (“AEI”) whose COBRA qualifying event was due to an involuntary termination or reduction in hours. Our prior blog post, COBRA Premium Assistance Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – What Employers Should Know, provides information about the ARPA COBRA subsidy and associated notice requirements. ARPA also required employers to comply with certain notice obligations, first at the outset of the
Continue Reading Reminder: ARPA COBRA Subsidy Expiration Notice Due by September 15

On August 6, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Rule (Nasdaq Stock Market LLC Rules 5605(f) and 5606), which requires listed companies to have at least two diverse board members or to explain their failure to meet the requirement, with some exceptions.  The Board Diversity Rule also requires companies to publish statistics on the diversity of their board members.  The rule is intended to increase transparency into the diversity of corporate boards, giving investors more information to consider when deciding which companies are worthy of investment.  As investors have increasingly voiced concern over
Continue Reading SEC Approves Nasdaq Diversity Rule

Many have been wondering when FTC and DOJ will resume granting early termination of the HSR waiting period in deals that present no anticompetitive concerns.  Early termination does not appear to be coming back anytime soon.
Continue Reading FTC, Under Pressure from “Tidal Wave” of HSR Filings, To Begin Issuing Close-At-Your-Own-Risk Letters

In Securities & Exchange Comm’n v. Fowler, No. 20-1081, 2021 WL 3083655 (2d Cir. July 22, 2021), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court judgment awarding the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) civil penalties, disgorgement, and injunctive relief in a securities fraud action against a broker engaged in unsuitable and unauthorized high-frequency trading.  The district court entered its judgment following a jury trial finding the defendant guilty of violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, and Sections 17(a)(1), 17(a)(2), and 17(a)(3) of the Securities
Continue Reading Second Circuit Upholds Enforceability of SEC Tolling Agreements

On July 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 150 into law, allowing certain owners of passthrough entities to find a way around the current $10,000 federal cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions for individuals.  The new law, applicable to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2021 and ending before January 1, 2026, allows for many partnerships, limited liability companies taxed as partnerships, and S-Corporations to pay an entity level tax based on electing individual owners’ share of income, and then grants the owners a credit against California personal income tax for the full amount
Continue Reading California Passes “Workaround” To Federal Limit on State Tax Deduction For Certain Owners of Pass-Through Entities

In Coster v. UIP Companies, Inc., No. 49-2020, 2021 WL 2644094 (Del. June 28, 2021), the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a Court of Chancery ruling, No. 2018-0440-KSJM, 2020 WL 429906 (Del. Ch. Jan. 28, 2020) (McCormick, V.C.), that members of a board of directors did not breach their fiduciary duties when they approved a transaction with an “inequitable purpose” because the process and substance of the transaction were “entirely fair” to the aggrieved stockholder.  The Court held that even though the board’s action passed Delaware’s rigorous “entire fairness” review, the Court of Chancery should have further considered whether
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Holds That Surviving “Entire Fairness” Review is Not Conclusive of a Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Where Directors Acted Inequitably

On June 16, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted (215-214) to pass the ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance] Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021 (H. R. 1187) (the “Bill”).[1]  This legislation would build on the Biden Administration’s push for major corporations to be more transparent in disclosing economic and social risks to investors, including climate-related risks.

If signed into law, H. R. 1187 would, among other things, require the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), for the first time, to define, in regulations, “ESG metrics,” for the purpose of guiding required corporate disclosures under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
Continue Reading House Passes Bill Requiring SEC to Define Mandatory ESG Metrics

In Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertsons Companies, Inc., 2021 WL 2311455 (Del. Ch. June 7, 2021), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Slights, V.C.) provided key guidance on mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) earnout disputes regarding contractual earnout language, the applicability of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, extra-contractual discussions and promises and post-closing behavior of the acquirer.  This opinion serves as a reminder to M&A transaction parties on important drafting concepts in earnouts, as well as how to conduct themselves during the negotiations and earnout period.
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Decision Provides Guidance on M&A Earnouts

In Van Buren v. United States, No. 19-783, 2021 WL 2229206 (U.S. June 3, 2021), the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion drastically limiting the application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) (18 U.S.C. § 1030 et seq.), holding that the “exceeds authorized access” clause of the Act applies only to those who obtain information from particular areas in the computer—such as files, folders, or databases—to which the individual is not authorized to access under any circumstances. However, the Supreme Court excluded application of the clause to individuals who misuse their access to obtain
Continue Reading Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split Over CFAA

This article originally published on Food Manufacturing.com on June 1.

2020 was an up-and-down year for mergers and acquisitions in the food and beverage industry.  With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year, deal making activity was largely put on hold.  In the second half of the year, however, M&A activity resumed in force such that the total number of food and beverage transactions for 2020 actually ended up slightly exceeding 2019.  And with private equity firms sitting on a large amount of cash that needs to be deployed and strong corporate balance sheets
Continue Reading Keys to Maximizing Value in Food & Beverage M&A Transactions

During a May 19, 2021 webcast at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (“FINRA”) annual conference, Amy Sochard, FINRA’s Vice President of Advertising Regulation, indicated that the organization will seek public feedback on gamification practices utilized by some stock trading platforms to attract investors with a view toward issuing new rules or guidance.  “Gamification” refers to the application of typical elements of game playing, such as point scoring, competition with others, and rules of play, by trading platforms, online retailers or vendors to encourage engagement with a product or service.
Continue Reading Game On: FINRA Hints at Upcoming Gamification Sweep