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Showing 228 posts in M&A.

Chancery Upholds Fiduciary Duty Claims Arising Out Of Deal Involving an Alleged Control Group That Included Non-Stockholders and a Sale Process Managed By a Disinterested and Independent Special Committee


In re Pattern Energy Grp. Inc. Stockholders Litig., C.A. No. 2020-0357-MTZ (Del. Ch. May 6, 2021)
This decision mostly denying a motion to dismiss examines several important issues in post-closing M&A fiduciary duty litigation relevant to stating a claim and overcoming an otherwise claim-cleansing stockholder vote under the Corwin doctrine. These include what it takes to adequately plead the existence of a control group, a fraud-on-the-board theory, a bad faith breach of fiduciary duty by admittedly disinterested and independent directors charged with managing a sale process and overseeing potential conflicts, and claims against individual officers. Core to the plaintiff’s well-pled complaint in this action were allegations that the committee and certain officers favored a buyer preferred by a private equity fund, which, among other things, formed the company, controlled its upstream supplier, and held significant contractual consent rights.  More ›

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Chancery Orders Specific Performance of Deal, Despite Lack of Debt Financing, Finding that COVID-Related Business Decline Was Not an MAE and Seller’s Cost-Cutting Efforts Were Not Breaches of the “Ordinary Course” Covenant


Snow Phipps Grp., LLC v. KCake Acquisition, Inc., 2020-0282-KSJM (Del. Ch. Apr. 30, 2021)
In Snow Phipps, the Court of Chancery refused to allow a private equity buyer with pandemic-related cold feet to back out of its bargained for agreement to purchase DecoPac, a cake decorating company. In ordering specific performance, the Court found: (1) the durationally insignificant COVID-related business decline did not constitute a material adverse effect (“MAE”); (2) the seller had not violated any of its covenants to operate in the ordinary course by attempting to mitigate business losses; and (3) the condition to closing that the buyer secure debt financing was excused under the prevention doctrine, because the buyer’s actions caused the condition not to be satisfied. More ›

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Chancery Refuses to Enforce Alleged Contractual Rights Not Obtained at the “Negotiating Table”


Obsidian Fin. Grp., LLC v. Identity Theft Guard Solutions, Inc., C.A. No: 2020-0485-JRS (Del. Ch. Apr. 22, 2021)
Delaware is “more contractarian” than many other jurisdictions. Accordingly, as this case illustrates, a court applying Delaware law will respect parties’ contractual choices and will not enforce alleged contractual rights not reflected in the plain language of the agreement. More ›

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Chancery Holds that Plaintiff Cannot Recover Cash It Mistakenly Failed to Sweep from its Former Subsidiary’s Account Prior to Closing


Deluxe Entm’t Servs. Inc. v. DLX Acquisition Corp., C.A. No. 2020-0618-MTZ (Del. Ch. Mar. 29, 2021)

Delaware adheres to the objective theory of contracts and enforces the parties’ intentions as reflected in the four corners of an agreement. This is particularly true for sophisticated parties, whom Delaware law presumes are bound by the terms they negotiated. In this case, the plaintiff and defendant entered into an agreement where the plaintiff sold all of the outstanding shares of one of its subsidiaries to the defendant. Plaintiff alleged that, prior to the sale, it failed to sweep funds from the subsidiary’s bank accounts to which it was entitled under the purchase agreement. The Court rejected that claim in granting the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, in part because the agreement required the transfer of all assets except those explicitly excluded. The disputed cash neither was explicitly excluded, nor was it identified as among the wrongfully transferred assets the agreement required to be returned under a “wrong pocket” provision. Similarly, the Court rejected a claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing because the parties’ agreement included a provision regarding an unintended asset transfer that did not address the disputed cash. Plaintiff’s alternative argument seeking reformation failed as well because plaintiff failed to plead with particularity mutual or unilateral mistake.

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Chancery Dismisses Unripe Contribution Claim but Finds That Corporate Director and Officer Adequately Pled Right to Indemnification Following Merger


Wunderlich v. B. Riley Fin., Inc. et al., C.A. No: 2020-0453-PAF (Del. Ch. Mar. 24, 2021)

Delaware corporations may provide indemnification rights to their directors and officers either through the corporation’s organizational documents or by separate agreements. This case concerned the survival and scope of these rights following a merger. More ›

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Chancery Denies Claim Arising Out of Controller’s Announced Intention to Oppose a Transaction Unfavorable to His Interests

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


RCS Creditor Trust v. Schorsch et al., C.A. No: 2017-0178-SG (Del. Ch. Mar. 18, 2021)
Controlling shareholders of a Delaware corporation owe fiduciaries duties, but those duties do not require controllers to sacrifice contract rights or to vote altruistically. In the Court of Chancery’s recent decision in RCS Creditor Trust v. Schorsch et al., the Court affirmed this proposition, holding that where a special committee and its review process were otherwise independent, a controlling shareholder did not breach his fiduciary duties or improperly influence the committee by sharing how he planned to vote in connection with two proposed, competing transactions. More ›

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Chancery Holds Prior Rulings in Appraisal and Securities Litigation Do Not Bar New Columbia Pipeline Fiduciary Duty Action

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


In re Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. Merger Litigation, C.A. No. 2018-0484-JTL (Del. Ch. Mar. 1, 2021)
Certain judicial doctrines, including collateral estoppel and stare decisis, promote efficiency and finality by barring the re-litigation of factual and legal issues. For these doctrines to apply, however, there must be overlap between the parties, the claims or the legal posture. This case demonstrates that, without such overlap, courts will permit subsequent claims even when the underlying transaction has already been the subject of significant prior litigation. More ›

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Chancery Finds After Trial That $10 Billion Unit-for-Unit Merger Was “Fair and Reasonable” Under Partnership Agreement

Dieckman v. Regency GP LP, C.A. No. 11130-CB (Del. Ch. Feb. 15, 2021)

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 ›

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Chancery Sustains Claims Against CBS Fiduciaries Concerning CBS-Viacom Merger, While Questioning the Viability of “Holder” Claims Under Delaware Law

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, M&A

In re CBS Corp. S’holder Class & Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2020-0111-JRS (Del. Ch. Jan. 27, 2021)

This decision is one of several by the Delaware Court of Chancery arising out of efforts to merge CBS Corporation and Viacom by the companies’ controlling stockholder—National Amusements, Inc., controlled by Shari Redstone. Recently, in In re Viacom Inc. Stockholders Litigation, 2020 WL 7711128 (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2020), the Court upheld claims by the Viacom stockholders against Viacom fiduciaries arising out of the CBS-Viacom merger. This decision is the flipside of that same coin, with the Court upholding claims by the CBS stockholders against CBS fiduciaries, including special transaction committee members, arising out of the same merger. More ›

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Chancery Sustains Claims Against Target’s CEO, Target’s Financial Advisor, and Acquirer for Allegedly Covertly Steering Merger Bidding Process

Firefighters’ Pension System of The City of Kansas City, Missouri Trust v. Presidio, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0839-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 29, 2021)

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 ›

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Chancery Construes Notice Provisions Associated With Escrowed Funds Under an Asset Purchase Agreement

Posted In Chancery, Escrow, M&A

Schillinger Genetics, Inc. v. Benson Hill Seeds, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0260-MTZ (Del. Ch. Feb. 1, 2021)

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 ›

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Party Uniquely Escapes An Arbitration Provision, While The Court Reminds Us That Bootstrapped Fraud Claims Are Impermissible In Delaware

Posted In Arbitration, CCLD, Fraud, M&A

AluminumSource, LLC v. LLFlex, LLC, C.A. No: N18C-07-231-EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Jan. 21, 2021)

Delaware courts commonly enforce (and support) arbitration provisions, submitting disputes under the governing contract to a third-party neutral. Equally common is the dismissal by Delaware courts of fraud claims “bootstrapped” to a breach of contract based on allegations that a contracting party never intended to perform its obligations. This recent decision from the Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division is the unique case where, on the first issue, an arbitration provision was found unenforceable due to impossibility of performance. On the second issue, this case confirms settled law that bootstrapped fraud claims are impermissible in Delaware. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Adopts Post-Merger Derivative Standing Framework From In re Primedia, Inc. Shareholders Litigation

Morris v. Spectra Energy Partners (DE) GP, LP, No. 489, 2019 (Del. Jan. 22, 2021)

In Delaware corporate law, “the standing inquiry has assumed special significance,” especially in the post-merger context. The Delaware Supreme Court in Morris v. Spectra Energy holds that a plaintiff has post-merger standing if she brings a claim disputing the fairness of a merger and satisfies the three-part framework set forth in In re Primedia, Inc. Shareholders Litigation, 67 A.3d 455 (Del. Ch. 2013), even if the underlying claim seems unlikely to succeed on the merits. More ›

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Chancery Declines to Apply Stockholder Approval Requirement of DGCL § 271 to Agreement to Transfer All Assets in Lieu of Foreclosure

Posted In Chancery, Control Disputes, DGCL, M&A

Stream TV Networks, Inc. v. SeeCubic, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0310-JTL (Del. Ch. Dec. 8, 2020)

In this decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery reviews the history of requirements to approve transfers of all assets both at common law and under the Delaware General Corporation Law, and concludes that Delaware law does not require majority stockholder approval for an insolvent corporation’s transfer of assets to a secured creditor in lieu of a foreclosure. The Court thus rejected an attempt by the corporation’s founders, who owned a majority of its stock, to invalidate the corporation’s agreement in that regard.  More ›

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Chancery Upholds Claim that CEO Breached Her Duty of Care Relating to a Misleading Proxy Statement

Posted In Chancery, Disclosure Claims, M&A

City of Warren General Employees’ Retirement System v. Roche, C.A. No. 2019-0740-PAF (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2020)

This case illustrates that an officer’s support for a sale of the corporation does not trigger the “entire fairness” standard where a majority of the members of the board of directors are not alleged to have been interested or lacked independence, and the plaintiff’s allegations otherwise do not support that the officer deceived the board. As also illustrated here, however, materially incomplete or inaccurate disclosures in a proxy statement may state a non-exculpated claim against officers for a breach of the duty of care. More ›

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