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Court of Chancery Explains Lynch, Again

Posted In M&A

In re John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc. Shareholder Litigation. C.A. 758-CC (October 2, 2009).

The application of the Lynch doctrine to a merger is an often discussed topic. This decision does a great job of summarizing and explaining the rationale for applying the entire fairness test to a merger that has the majority stockholder on both sides of the deal. Given that Lynch has been applied to other deals where a majority stockholder was not involved [such as when a controlling stockholder dictates a self-dealing transaction], the parameters of that doctrine need such an explanation.

This decision also settles two other points. To shift the burden of proving fairness from the defendants, the vote of the minority stockholders must be by a majority of all the minority stockholders eligible to vote, not just a majority of those who did vote. Second, the vote must be binding and not waivable by a special committee.

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