Court of Chancery Breaks New Ground with Remedy
This decision covers the now familiar ground of a review of an interested transaction with a controlling parent company that is blessed by a dysfunctional special committee. After finding the transaction was not fairly negotiated, and not substantively fair as well, the Court has granted an unusual remedy. Rather than awarding money damages, the Court has ordered the deal be restructured to make it fair, by converting the preferred stock issued to the parent to non-voting common stock.
The opinion is also particularly interesting for its discussion of the role of the special committee used in this transaction. The committee apparently felt its role was to get the best terms in the deal proposed by the parent company to make it "fair," rather than to question whether the deal was in their company's best interest. The committee's assumption that they could not just say no was in error.
The decision also touches on the rights of bondholders when a major bondholder has its consent to redemption effectively purchased. The Court noted that it is not unusual for indenture covenants to preclude that vote buying, and the absence of such a prohibition here was fatal to the complaining bondholders.
[UPDATE: The Delaware Supreme Court affirms this decision on July 23, 2009.]