Chancery Limits Section 220 Books-and-Records Production to Formal Board Materials
In re Zendesk, Inc. Section 220 Litigation, C.A. No. 2023-0454-BWD (Del. Ch. Aug. 25, 2023)
The background of this books-and-records decision involved a failed acquisition, a strategic review, a proxy contest, and a decision to sell the company at a price below an offer rejected just a few months prior. The plaintiff-shareholders' inspection purpose was to investigate alleged board wrongdoing in connection with the transaction’s approval. The company voluntarily produced formal board materials. But, contending there were information gaps, the plaintiffs also wanted informal board materials, including emails among directors, as well as documents and emails at the officer level. In its post-trial decision, the Court of Chancery found that while the plaintiffs had stated a proper purpose, they did not show entitlement to documents beyond the formal board materials already provided. Citing produced materials, including board minutes and presentations, and the Court found the formal board materials were sufficient to satisfy the shareholders' inspection purpose. As the Court explained, Section 220 inspections “are not tantamount to ‘comprehensive discovery,’" and entitle shareholders only to the “essential” responsive records.