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Court of Chancery Finds Waste Claim Valid

Posted In Fiduciary Duty

Sample v. Morgan, C.A. No. 1214-N (Del. Ch. January 23, 2007).

It is a rare case where the Court of Chancery finds grounds for a claim of waste. The standard to be met is very strict. This is such a case. Here the Inside Directors caused their corporation to issue  them rights for 200,000 shares for the grand total of $200, all while knowing that the shares had a value of over $5 per share if not more. To make matters worse, the Inside Directors tried to implement this scheme by asking the stockholders to approve it through seriously misleading disclosures and then used a conflicted process to have the actual issuance of the shares approved at the board level. It is hard to see how they could have done a worse job in trying to secure their option rights.

The decision notes that even informed stockholder approval of an option plan does not give management a blank check to issue options under any circumstances. There still must be an informed process that takes due care in the decision to actually issue the options.

The opinion also contains an interesting comment on the power of the board to agree to not issue additional shares as part of a deal with a third party. It is sometimes felt that a board may not bind future boards to not take an action. Here, the Court notes that boards must have the right for a proper purpose to enter into long term contracts. Share


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