Main Menu

Showing 211 posts in M&A.

CCLD Holds Indemnification Provision Does Not Cover First-Party Claims

Posted In Breach of Contract, CCLD, M&A

Ashland LLC v. Samuel J. Heyman 1981 Continuing Trust for Lazarus S. Heyman, C.A. No. N15C-10-176 EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Ct. Nov. 10, 2020)

This case illustrates that Delaware courts will follow the “American Rule” that parties must pay their own legal fees unless they otherwise agree. In this case, the parties’ Stock Purchase Agreement (“SPA”) required defendants to indemnify against “Losses” – which was defined to include reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Court previously had found that the defendants breached a section of the SPA. Plaintiff then sought to recover as “Losses” its attorneys’ fees and expenses in proving the breach. The Court reasoned that indemnification provisions are presumed not to provide for fee-shifting in claims between the parties (first-party claims) absent a clear and unequivocal articulation of that intent. While there is no specific language that must be used, the SPA here contained a separate, relatively straightforward and narrower prevailing party fee-shifting provision, which did not apply to the claims at issue. Because the indemnification provision did not clearly support fee-shifting for first-party claims, and because the plaintiff was not entitled to attorneys’ fees based on the straightforward fee-shifting provision to which the parties had agreed, the Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment that plaintiff was not entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees and expenses under the indemnification provision.

Share

Chancery Addresses Fiduciary Duty Claims Related To Financial Statements Created For Merger

Posted In Chancery, M&A

In re Baker Hughes Inc. Merger Litigation, C.A. No. 2019-0638 AGB (Del. Ch. Oct. 27, 2020).
This decision arose out of a merger involving Baker Hughes and the oil and gas segment of General Electric (GE). Stockholders of Baker Hughes brought post-closing breach of fiduciary duty claims against certain officers of Baker Hughes and aiding and abetting claims against GE, with the allegations focused on certain financial statements provided by GE in connection with the merger. GE did not maintain separate statements for its oil and gas business line in the ordinary course. The parties accounted for this by having GE prepare unaudited financial statements for that business line and conditioning closing obligations on GE providing audited financial statements that did not differ materially in an adverse manner.  More ›

Share

Chancery Applies Contractual Shortening of Limitations Period for Breaches of Representations, Finds it Inapt to Fraud Claims and Enforces Clear Anti-Reliance Clause

Pilot Air Freight, LLC v. Manna Freight Systems, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0992-JRS (Del. Ch. Sept. 18, 2020)

In a familiar fact pattern, an acquirer of a business brought suit against sellers claiming, inter alia, that the representations and warranties in the asset purchase agreement were untrue and, indeed, fraudulent when made. The sellers moved to dismiss on the basis of a provision they claimed shortened the limitations period for breaches of representations and warranties and an anti-reliance clause they claimed eliminated any potential claims for misrepresentations or omissions outside of the written agreement. More ›

Share

Chancery Addresses Contract and Fraud Claims Relating to M&A Post-Closing Price Adjustments

Posted In Chancery, M&A

Roma Landmark Theaters, LLC v. Cohen Exhibition Co., LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0585-PAF (Del. Ch. Sept. 30, 2020)

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

Chancery Confirms that, Without More, Threat of Proxy Contest from Activist Investor is Insufficient to Render Director Defendants Conflicted in Sale Transaction

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, M&A

Rudd v. Brown, C.A. No. 2019-0775 MTZ (Del. Ch. Sept. 11, 2020)

The Court of Chancery recently confirmed that the threat of a proxy contest from an activist investor alone was insufficient to render director defendants conflicted in a post-closing challenge to a sale of the company. Here, an activist investor that acquired a significant stake in the corporation expressed dissatisfaction with the board of directors for not exploring a potential sale of the company. Thereafter, the company announced that it would explore strategic alternatives. The company then entered into a cooperation agreement permitting the investor to appoint three members of the nine member board in exchange for not mounting a proxy fight. The strategic process resulted in a sale to a financial acquirer. The plaintiff then brought suit against the company’s board of directors and an officer alleging that that board’s acceptance of an inadequate offer was motivated by self-interest to avoid a proxy contest. More ›

Share

Chancery Awards No Damages to Either Party After the Break-Up of the Anthem/Cigna Merger

In re Anthem-Cigna Merger Litigation, C.A. No. 2017-0114- JTL (Del. Ch. August 31, 2020)

This action arose out of a failed merger transaction involving the second and third largest health insurers in the United States, Anthem, Inc. and Cigna Corporation (“the Merger”). The parties had entered into a merger agreement on July 23, 2015 (“Merger Agreement”). Either party could terminate if the transaction did not close by January 31, 2017, a date later extended to April 30, 2017. The parties each agreed to covenants to cooperate and to use their best efforts to accomplish the Merger (“Efforts Covenants”). Specifically, they agreed to take all reasonable steps to consummate the Merger (the “Reasonable Best Efforts Covenant”) and to take “any and all actions” necessary to avoid impediments to the Merger from government entities (the “Regulatory Efforts Covenant”). The parties authorized Anthem to take the lead in working with government entities to facilitate the Merger, but the parties were required to cooperate to obtain regulatory approval (the “Regulatory Cooperation Covenant”). The parties’ obligations to close the Merger were subject to the condition that no governmental entity or court had acted to enjoin the consummation of the Merger (the “No Injunction Condition”).  More ›

Share

Alleged Third-Party Beneficiary’s Contract and Alternate Unjust Enrichment Claims Survive Dismissal at the Pleadings Stage Based on Ambiguous Contract Language

CHS/Cmty. Health Sys., Inc. v. Steward Health Care Sys. LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0165-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 21, 2020)

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 Denies Sellers’ Request for Dismissal, Finding That Fraud Claims Were Timely Filed and Properly Pled

Posted In Chancery, Fraud Claims, Laches, M&A

Agspring Holdco, LLC v. NGP X US Holdings, L.P., C.A. No. 2019-0567-AGB (Del. Ch. July 30, 2020)

This opinion concerns a buyer’s attempt to plead fraud in connection the acquisition of a business. The Court denied in the main the defendants’ motion to dismiss the fraud claims brought in connection with private equity firm American Infrastructure Partners’ (the “Buyer”) $300 million acquisition of Agspring LLC (the “Company”), which was then almost entirely owned by NGP X US Holdings, LLP (“NGP”), another private equity firm.  More ›

Share

CCLD Applies Anti-Reliance Provisions, Dismisses Buyer’s Fraud Claims

Posted In CCLD, Fraud Claims, M&A

Infomedia Group, Inc. v. Orange Health Solutions Inc., C.A. No. N19C-10-212 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Ct. July 31, 2020)

This case is a strong reminder that Delaware will enforce anti-reliance clauses to bar claims for fraud where sophisticated parties voluntarily agree to the anti-reliance clauses. Here, plaintiff Infomedia Group, Inc., d/b/a Carenet Health Services entered into an asset purchase agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) with defendant Orange Health Solutions, Inc. (“Citra”).  More ›

Share

Chancery Rejects Implied Covenant Claim for Failure to Prove that, Had the Issue Been Negotiated, Both Parties Would Have Agreed

Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corp. v. Freedom Mortgage Corp., C.A. No. 2020-0161-SG (Del. Ch. July 22, 2020)

To establish an implied contractual obligation pursuant to the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, a party must prove that, even though the contract does not state the term at issue, the parties would have agreed to it had they thought to negotiate it at the time of contracting. Here, the Court of Chancery post-trial denied an acquirer’s implied covenant claim even though the result arguably resulted in unfairness from a financial point of view to the acquirer. As illustrated by this case, unfairness alone to one party does not necessarily prove that both parties would have agreed to the implied term had they thought to negotiate about it. More ›

Share

Entire Fairness Standard Applies Where Controller Has Substantive Discussions with Minority Stockholders before Agreeing to MFW Protections

In re HomeFed Corporation Stockholder Litigation, C.A. 2019-0592-AGB (Del. Ch. July 13, 2020)
This case illustrates that the Court of Chancery will apply the entire fairness standard to review a squeeze-out merger by a controller, if the controller engages in substantive economic discussions before the company has enacted the procedural protections outlined in Kahn v. M & F Worldwide Corp, 88 A.3d 635 (Del. 2014) (“MFW”) that would permit business judgment review. In this case, Jefferies Financial Group Inc. (“Jefferies” or the “Controller”), which owned 70% of HomeFed Corporation (“HomeFed”), acquired the remaining shares of HomeFed in a share exchange in which each HomeFed minority shareholder received two Jefferies shares in exchange for one of its HomeFed shares (the “Transaction”). A HomeFed director originally proposed the 2:1 share exchange to Jefferies in September 2017, and Jefferies subsequently discussed the share exchange with HomeFed’s second largest shareholder Beck, Mack and Oliver, LLC (“BMO”). In December 2017, HomeFed’s board of directors (the “Board”) formed a special committee (the “Special Committee”) that had the exclusive power to evaluate and negotiate a potential transaction. When the parties were unable to agree to merger terms, the Special Committee “paused” its process in March 2018. Despite pausing the Special Committee, Jefferies continued to discuss a potential transaction with BMO for the next year.  More ›

Share

Chancery Orders Trial to Determine Meaning of Ambiguous Post-Closing Covenants in a Stock Purchase Agreement

Posted In Chancery, Earn-Out, M&A

Schneider Nat’l Carriers, Inc. v. Kuntz, C.A. No. 2017-0711-PAF (Del. Ch. July 16, 2020)

If parties to a contract offer reasonable but conflicting interpretations of ambiguous contractual language, the Court of Chancery may deny summary judgment and order trial for purposes of weighing conflicting extrinsic evidence and witness testimony to interpret the meaning of the contractual language. More ›

Share

Chancery Interprets Merger Agreement Termination Fee Provision But Denies Summary Judgment to Resolve Questions of Fact in Continuing Busted Deal Litigation Between The Williams Companies and Energy Transfer

Posted In Chancery, M&A, Termination Fees

The Williams Cos., Inc. v. Energy Transfer LP, C.A. No. 12168-VCG (Del. Ch. July 2, 2020)

The Court of Chancery will enforce a merger agreement’s plain and unambiguous terms, including parties’ agreed-upon conditions for liability of a termination fee. Termination fee litigation, however, often involves critical factual determinations, such as issues of materiality or best efforts that may require a trial to develop the appropriate record to determine liability. More ›

Share

Chancery Dismisses Challenge to Top Executives’ Stock Awards in Disney-Fox Merger, Finds Plaintiff Lacks Standing to Pursue Derivative Claim

Brokerage Jamie Goldenberg Komen Rev TRU U/A 06/10/08 Jamie L Komen Trustee for the Benefit of Jamie Goldenberg Komen v. Breyer, C.A. No. 2018-0773-AGB (Del. Ch. June 26, 2020)

Following a merger that alters a stockholder’s ownership status, the stockholder may be able to challenge the entirety of the merger as a direct claim, but the stockholder will typically lack standing to challenge the individual aspects of the merger as derivative claims. The instant case, involving the Disney-Fox merger, shows the difficulties a stockholder faces in attempting to mount such a challenge. More ›

Share

Court of Chancery Dismisses Aiding and Abetting Claim Against NetSuite’s Fiduciaries for Role in Alleged Overpayment by Oracle

In re Oracle Corp. Derivative Litig, Consol. C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. June 22, 2020)

At the pleadings stage, a claim for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty requires that it is reasonably conceivable that the alleged aider and abettor knowingly provided substantial assistance in the breach of fiduciary duty. This decision reflects that substantial assistance in an alleged conspiracy of silence might not meet the reasonably conceivable standard if public statements and securities filings contain sufficient information about the underlying course of conduct. More ›

Share

awards

  • US News Best Law Firms
  • JD Supra Readers Choice Award
  • Delaware Today Top Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
Back to Page