Articles Posted in Mergers & Acquisitions

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This appeal arose from a merger agreement under which two companies involved in the gas pipeline business, Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (“ETE”), agreed to acquire the assets of The Williams Companies, Inc., (“Williams”). The Merger Agreement signed by Williams and ETE contemplated two steps: (1) Williams would merge into a new entity, Energy Transfer Corp LP (“ETC”); and (2) the transfer of Williams’ assets to ETE in exchange for Class E partnership units “would” be a tax-free exchange of a partnership interest for assets under Section 721(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. After the parties entered into the Agreement, the energy market suffered a severe decline which caused a significant loss in the value of assets of the type held by Williams and ETE. This caused the transaction to become financially undesirable to ETE. This issue ultimately led to ETE’s tax counsel, Latham & Watkins, LLP (Latham) being unwilling to issue the 721 opinion. Since the 721 opinion was a condition of the transaction, ETE indicated that it would not proceed with the merger. Williams then sought to enjoin ETE from terminating the Merger Agreement. The Court of Chancery rejected Williams’ arguments. After review, the Supreme Court found the Court of Chancery adopted an unduly narrow view of the obligations imposed by the covenants in the Agreement. The Supreme Court agreed with Williams that if a proper analysis of ETE’s covenants led to a conclusion that ETE breached those covenants, the burden would have shifted to ETE to prove that its breaches did not materially contribute to the failure of the closing condition. Since the facts as found by the Court of Chancery were that ETE’s lack of conduct did not contribute to Latham’s decision not to issue the 721 opinion, the Supreme Court was satisfied that when the burden of proving that ETE’s alleged breach of covenants is properly placed on it, ETE did meet its burden of proving that any alleged breach of covenant did not materially contribute to the failure of the Latham condition. The Court also agrees with the Court of Chancery’s finding that ETE was not estopped from terminating the Agreement. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Chancery was affirmed. View "Williams Companies, Inc. v. Energy Transfer Equity, L.P." on Justia Law

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Central Laborers instituted this action under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, Del. Code Ann. tit. 8, section 220, to compel News Corp. to produce its books and records related to its acquisition of Shine. The court held that Section 220 permitted a stockholder to inspect books and records of a corporation if the stockholder complied with the procedural requirements of the statute and then showed a proper purpose for the inspection. Section 220 required a stockholder seeking to inspect books and records to establish that such stockholder had complied with the form and manner of making demand for inspection of such documents. Central Laborers had not made that showing. Because Central Laborers' Inspection Demand did not satisfy the procedural requirements of Section 220, it did not establish its standing to inspect the books and records of News Corp. On that basis alone, and without reaching the issue of proper purpose, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Central Laborers Pension Fund v. News Corp." on Justia Law

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RAA appealed from a final judgment of the Superior Court that dismissed its complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). RAA's complaint alleged that Savage told RAA, one of several potential bidders for Savage, at the outset of their discussions that there was "no significant unrecorded liabilities or claims against Savage," but then during RAA's due diligence into Savage, Savage disclosed three such matters, which caused RAA to abandon negotiations for the transactions. The complaint contended that had RAA known of those matters at the outset, it never would have proceeded to consider purchasing Savage. Therefore, according to RAA, Savage should be liable for the entirety of RAA's alleged $1.2 million in due diligence and negotiation costs. The court held that, under Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA), RAA acknowledged that in the event no final "Sale Agreement" on a transaction was reached, Savage would have no liability, and could not be sued, for any allegedly inaccurate or incomplete information provided by Savage to RAA during the due diligence process. The court also held that RAA could not rely on the peculiar-knowledge exception to support its claims. Finally, the court held that, when Savage and RAA entered into the NDA, both parties knew how the non-reliance clauses had been construed by Delaware courts. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "RAA Management, LLC v. Savage Sports Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2010, BLGH entered into an agreement with enXco to sell BLGH's renewable energy business, Beacon, to enXco. The Unit Purchase Agreement that governed the sale of Beacon (UPA) called for a purchase price of $12 million, plus a "bonus payment" to BLGH if certain conditions were met. The sale of Beacon took place and BLGH was paid $12 million. A dispute arose, however, over whether BLGH was entitled to the additional bonus payment. enXco claimed that no bonus payment was legally due. BLGH responded by filing a Superior Court action against enXco for breach of contract. The Superior Court granted summary judgment to enXco, holding that no bonus payment was owed to BLGH under the UPA. The court reversed and held that the Superior Court erred as a matter of law in granting summary judgment to enXco where the transaction "outlined" in the letter of intent met the requirements of Section 1.7 of the UPA, triggering BLGH's right to a bonus payment, and nothing more was required by the UPA for BLGH to become legally entitled to the bonus payment. View "BLGH Holdings LLC v. Enxco LFG Holding, LLC" on Justia Law

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Series C-1 preferred shareholders, claiming that the forced conversion of their shares was unlawful, sued Omneon in the Superior Court for breach of contract. Those shareholders, as plaintiffs, claimed that, because the conversion of their preferred shares was integral to Harmonic's acquisition of Omneon, the conversion was part of a "Liquidation Event" under Omneon's certificate of incorporation, that entitled the shareholders to the liquidation "preference" payable for their shares. The Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of Omneon, holding that under the plain language of Omneon's certificate of incorporation, only one series of preferred stock - the Series A-2.2 - was legally entitled to a liquidation preference payout. The shareholders were not entitled to a liquidation payout because the Series C-1 preferred shares had been validly converted into common stock before the Omneon-Orinda merger took place. The court agreed and concluded that the conversion was not part of a "Liquidation Event" as defined by Omneon's charter. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Berkeley VI C.V., et al. v. Omneon, Inc." on Justia Law

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Sagarra, a Spanish corporation, was a minority shareholder of Uniland, also a Spanish corporation. Sagarra brought a Court of Chancery action to rescind the sale, by CPV, of Giant, to Uniland. CPV was the controlling stockholder of both Giant and Uniland. Sagarra purported to sue derivatively on behalf of a wholly-owned Delaware subsidiary of Uniland, UAC, which was specifically created as the vehicle to acquire Giant. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Sagarra lacked standing to enforce a claim on behalf of UAC. The Court of Chancery held that Sagarra's standing to sue was governed by Spanish law, because Uniland - the only entity in which Sagarra owned stock - was incorporated in Spain. The court upheld the Court of Chancery's reasoning and judgment because Sagarra failed to satisfy the demand requirements of Spanish law. View "Sagarra Inversiones, S.L., v. Cementos Portland Valderrivas, S.A., et al." on Justia Law

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Liberty commenced this action against the Trustee under the Indenture, seeking injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the proposed Capital Splitoff would not constitute a disposition of "substantially all" of Liberty's assets in violation of the Indenture. The Court of Chancery concluded, after a trial, that the four transactions at issue should not be aggregated, and entered judgment for Liberty. The Court of Chancery concluded that the proposed splitoff was not "sufficiently connected" to the prior transactions to warrant aggregation for purposes of the Successor Obligor Provision. The court agreed with the judgment of the Court of Chancery and affirmed. View "The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co. v. Liberty Media Corp." on Justia Law

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Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. and the Board of Trade of the City of New York, Inc. (collectively, defendants), merged in 2007. Plaintiff was a member of the Board of Trade before the merger and the merger agreement required that if a member, including plaintiff, wished to continue in the newly merged enterprise, the member had to submit an Election Form specifying that preference by a stated deadline. Plaintiff did not receive the Election Form until after the deadline had passed and thereafter, defendants learned that many members, including plaintiff, had failed to submit the Election Form. Defendants waived the deadline and then, in an ad hoc manner and without notice to any member, imposed a new deadline. Defendants subsequently decided that plaintiff's Form was untimely and, of all the post-deadline-filled Forms, plaintiff's Form was the only one that defendants deemed untimely and refused to honor. Thereafter, plaintiff filed an action alleging breach of contract and the Court of Chancery ruled in favor of defendants. The court concluded, however, that defendants waived the initial deadline and also failed to retract that waiver by providing reasonable notice of their new deadline. Because the retraction of the waiver was invalid as a matter of law, plaintiff's Election Form was timely. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Chancery was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Amirsaleh v. Bd of Trade of the City of New York Inc., et al." on Justia Law