Showing 47 posts by Bryan Townsend.
Court of Chancery Harmonizes Operating Agreement Governance Provisions To Resolve LLC Control Dispute
Under Delaware law, limited liability company agreements are interpreted like other contracts; they are read as a whole in light of the commercial context, in a manner that gives effect to and harmonizes all of their terms. In this expedited control dispute, the Court of Chancery applied those canons to consider whether certain of the plaintiff’s purchases of units from other members complied with transfer restrictions. More ›Share
Chancery Finds After Trial That $10 Billion Unit-for-Unit Merger Was “Fair and Reasonable” Under Partnership Agreement
This matter concerned limited partners’ challenge under the governing limited partnership agreement to an acquisition of the partnership by another entity controlled by the partnership’s ultimate owner. A member of a conflicts committee, which had approved the $10 billion unit-for-unit controlling unitholder merger, also served the board of another company ultimately controlled by the same owner, contrary to the terms of the partnership agreement. After considering this issue, the Court of Chancery nevertheless held after a five-day trial that the merger was “fair and reasonable to the Partnership” under a contractual safe harbor, and that the plaintiffs failed to prove damages. More ›Share
Chancery Sustains Claims Against Target’s CEO, Target’s Financial Advisor, and Acquirer for Allegedly Covertly Steering Merger Bidding Process
Presidio illustrates potential pitfalls for parties in the M&A process, including executives managing personal interests in potential post-transaction employment while negotiating a deal, financial advisors with future business interests in mind while controlling competitive offer information, and acquirers potentially aware of a bidding process being steered in their direction. More ›Share
Chancery Construes Notice Provisions Associated With Escrowed Funds Under an Asset Purchase Agreement
Delaware courts will apply the plain terms of an unambiguous asset purchase agreement (“APA”), including its provisions governing notices and the release of escrowed funds. More ›Share
Superior Court Applies Affiliate Privilege Doctrine To Dismiss Tortious Interference Claim Against Controller, While Sustaining Fraud Claims Against LLC Managers
In adjudicating a dispute over a scuttled deal in the music festival industry, the Delaware Superior Court applied the so-called affiliate privilege doctrine, which can immunize a controller from tort liability for its affiliates’ contractual breaches, and addressed the viability of fraud claims against individual managers of certain LLCs. More ›Share
Statutory appraisal remains an active area of litigation in Delaware, notwithstanding recent legislation1 designed to reduce appraisal arbitrage and judicial decisions that established a prominent role for market-based evidence.
This article distills important considerations for practitioners and their clients from the 2020 appraisal decisions of the Delaware Supreme Court and Delaware Court of Chancery.
Chancery Declines to Order Specific Performance of $5.8 Billion Luxury Hotel Deal Scuttled by COVID-19 Changes to Hotel Business Operations
AB Stable VIII LLC v. MAPS Hotels and Resorts One LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0310-JTL (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2020)
Parties to a sale and purchase agreement (“SPA”) had planned to close a deal to sell fifteen luxury hotels for $5.8 billion. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe in early 2020 and battered the hotel industry, the buyer terminated the SPA. Seller sought specific performance in the Court of Chancery. After trial, the Court denied seller’s request for relief. More ›
Delaware Superior Court Applies Law-of-the-Case Doctrine and Collateral Estoppel to a Prior Chancery Proceeding
Plaintiff and defendants competed as institutional investors in the high-yield municipal bond market. Seeking to impair plaintiff’s standing in the marketplace, defendants made statements to broker-dealers critical of plaintiff. In turn, plaintiff sent defendants a cease-and-desist letter. In response, defendants sent letters to broker-dealers that suggested defendants would not participate in investments with broker-dealers who continued to do business with plaintiff. Plaintiff then filed suit in the Court of Chancery, which held that defendants had committed tortious interference with prospective business relations, but dismissed plaintiff’s defamation claim, and transferred this claim to the Superior Court. More ›Share
Delaware Supreme Court Finds that Court of Chancery Had Jurisdiction To Enjoin a Collateral Attack on a Prior Arbitration Award Under the Federal Arbitration Act
This decision confirms that the Court of Chancery has jurisdiction to enjoin a collateral attack on a prior arbitration award. The Delaware Supreme Court also reasons that the determination of whether a second arbitration collaterally attacks a prior arbitration does not depend on the res judicata or collateral estoppel effect of claims raised or decided in the prior arbitration, but rather whether the claimant asserts irregularities in the prior arbitration or seeks to rectify the harm it suffered, which are issues subject to exclusive review under the post-award procedure in the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). More ›Share
In re WeWork Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2020-0258-AGB (Del. Ch. Oct. 30, 2020).
A company facing a liquidity crisis (the shared working space company, WeWork), its outgoing CEO (Adam Nuemann), and two related SoftBank investment entities that collectively owned more than forty percent of the company’s equity entered into a Master Transaction Agreement (“MTA”). The MTA was designed to provide funding to the company, facilitate the CEO’s exit, and provide liquidity to minority stockholders. The MTA required a specific sequence of transactions from the entities: (1) equity financing; (2) stock purchase via a tender offer; and (3) debt financing after the closing of the tender offer. The tender offer’s closing was subject to certain conditions, which the parties to the MTA were required to use their reasonable best efforts to meet. More ›
Chancery Questions Utility of Aronson Test, Dismisses Derivative Suit of Facebook Stockholder for Failure To Allege Demand Futility
United Food and Comm. Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, C.A. No. 2018-0671-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2020)
In its recent decision in United Food and Comm. Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, the Court of Chancery discussed the legal tests to demonstrate demand futility in derivative actions under the seminal cases of Aronson and Rales. Reconciling longstanding and recent case law, the Court ruled that demand futility turns on whether at the time of filing of the complaint, the majority of a board of directors is disinterested, independent, and capable of impartially evaluating a litigation demand to bring suit on behalf of a company. More ›
Pursuant to a share purchase agreement, a plaintiff stockholder had preemption rights that entitled the stockholder to participate on a pro-rata basis if the defendant company issued common stock equivalents to a third-party buyer. Defendant issued warrants convertible into common stock to a nonparty. In consideration of plaintiff’s preemption rights, defendant made a proposal for plaintiff to provide the company with a loan in exchange for acquiring warrants, based on a blended version of the prices and other terms of the issuance to the nonparty. The proposal was, however, subject to approval by defendant’s board and the nonparty, and contingent upon defendant drawing down on the loan provided by plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit in the Delaware Court of Chancery, seeking to enforce its preemption rights, and moved for partial judgment on the pleadings. More ›Share
In Roma Landmark Theaters, the parties’ purchase agreement contained a framework for post-closing price adjustments and set forth the pre-closing duties of the buyer (but not the sellers) relating to certain calculations and financial information. The agreement included a dispute mechanism, which provided for an independent accounting firm to make a binding determination as to the distribution of escrowed funds in connection with a dispute over post-closing price adjustments. The accounting firm decided the dispute largely in sellers’ favor. Sellers then filed suit in the Court of Chancery to confirm the accounting firm’s decision, and require buyer to release the escrowed funds. Buyer filed counterclaims, alleging that the sellers committed financial disclosure misrepresentations amounting to fraud and bad faith. More ›Share
Alleged Third-Party Beneficiary’s Contract and Alternate Unjust Enrichment Claims Survive Dismissal at the Pleadings Stage Based on Ambiguous Contract Language
A claim for unjust enrichment will not lie where there is a contract that governs the relationship between parties. Both types of claims may survive a motion to dismiss, however, if there exists a contractual ambiguity that prevents the Court of Chancery from interpreting the meaning of contract at the pleadings stage. More ›Share
Chancery Holds Statutory Rights to Inspect Books and Records of a Delaware Corporation are Subject to the Internal Affairs Doctrine and Governed Exclusively by Delaware Law
Stockholder inspection rights are a core matter of the governance of a corporation. This decision holds that, pursuant to the internal affairs doctrine, inspection rights for a stockholder of a Delaware corporation are governed exclusively by Delaware law, not by laws of other jurisdictions, regardless of where a company’s principal place of business is located. More ›Share