- Michael Greene, Dealmakers Eye Safeguards Amid Rising Valuation Challenges (Apr. 18, 2017)
In a recent podcast, the Columbia Law School BlueSky Blog features Delaware Vice Chancellor Laster – whose appraisal decisions we have covered repeatedly – discussing the appraisal remedy. While the entire podcast is certainly worth a listen, some important topics include the history of appraisal (~1:30); when markets may depart from fair value (~5:50); how appraisal may act as a reserve price (~9:30); the discovery burden in appraisal (~14:20); interest rates and the relevance of interest (~21:30); how to determine fair value (~23:30); and the future of appraisal (~29:00).
- Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, 2017: Where Things Stand—Appraisal, Business Judgment Rule and Disclosure (2017)
- Guhan Subramanian, Using the Deal Price for Determining `Fair Value’ in Appraisal Proceedings (Feb. 8, 2017)
This Essay presents new data on appraisal litigation and appraisal outs. I find that appraisal claims have not meaningfully declined in 2016, and that perceived appraisal risk, as measured by the incidence of appraisal outs, has increased since the Dell appraisal in May 2016. After reviewing current Delaware appraisal doctrine, this Essay proposes a synthesizing principle: if the deal process involves an adequate market canvass, meaningful price discovery, and an arms-length negotiation, then there should be a strong presumption that the deal price represents fair value in an appraisal proceeding; but if the deal process does not have these features, deal price should receive no weight. This approach would represent a middle-ground between the competing approaches advanced by twenty-nine law, economics, and finance professors in the DFC Global appraisal, currently on appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court.
Section 6.2 Conditions to Obligations of Parent and Merger Sub. The respective obligations of Parent, Merger LLC and Merger Sub to effect the Merger are further subject to the satisfaction at or prior to the Effective Time of each of the following conditions, any and all of which may be waived, in whole or in part, by Parent: … (e) Appraisal Rights. No more than 20% of the outstanding Company Common Stock as of the Closing shall be Appraisal Shares.
- Albert H. Choi & Eric L. Talley, Appraising the ‘Merger Price’ Appraisal Rule (Dec. 21, 2016)
This paper develops an analytic framework combining agency costs, auction design and shareholder voting to study how best to measure “fair value” for dissident shareholders in a post-merger appraisal proceeding. Our inquiry spotlights an approach recently embraced by some courts that benchmarks fair value against the merger price itself, at least in certain situations. As a general matter, the “Merger Price” (MP) rule tends to depress both acquisition prices and target shareholders’ expected welfare relative to both the optimal appraisal policy and several other plausible alternatives. In fact, we demonstrate that the MP rule is strategically equivalent to nullifying appraisal rights altogether. Although the MP rule may be warranted in certain circumstances, our analysis suggests that such conditions are unlikely to be widespread and, consequently, the rule should be employed with caution. Our framework also helps explain why a healthy majority of litigated appraisal cases using conventional fair-value measures result in valuation assessments exceeding the deal price—an equilibrium phenomenon that is an artifact of rational, strategic behavior (and not necessarily an institutional deficiency, as some assert). Finally, our analysis facilitates better understanding of the strategic and efficiency implications of recent reforms allowing “medium-form” mergers, as well as an assortment of (colorfully named) appraisal-related practices, such as blow provisions, drag-alongs, and “naked no-vote” fees.
The Law Professors admit that they “have no financial interest or direct personal interest in this case.” Mot. ¶ 1. Rather, they are interlopers desperately seeking a forum in which they can pursue their academic fantasy by suggesting that this Court rewrite Delaware’s judicial appraisal statute, 8 Del. C. § 262(h), and effectively overrule settled law concerning the Chancery Court’s broad discretion in determining the fair value of dissenting stockholders’ shares in an appraisal action.
- Merion Capital, LP, et al. v. Lender Processing Services, Inc., C.A. No. 9320-VCL, memo. op. (Del. Ch. Dec. 16, 2016)
“… [T]the figure of $38.67 per share is my best estimate of the fair value of the Company based on the DCF method.
… As noted, a DCF analysis depends heavily on assumptions. Under the circumstances, as in [Merlin Partners, LP, et al. v. AutoInfo, Inc., C.A. No. 8509-VCN, memo. op. (Del. Ch. Apr. 30, 2015),] and [Merion Capital, LP, et al. v. BMC Software, Inc., C.A. No. 8900-VCG, memo. op. (Del. Ch. Oct. 21, 2015)], I give 100% weight to the transaction price.”
Evaluating the reliability and persuasiveness of the deal price for purposes of establishing fair value in an appraisal proceeding is a multifaceted, fact-specific inquiry. The relevant factors can vary from case to case depending on the nature of the company, the overarching market dynamics, and the areas on which the parties focus. The last is perhaps an underappreciated aspect of appraisal jurisprudence. Because an appraisal decision results from litigation in which adversarial parties advance arguments and present evidence, the issues that the court considers and the outcome that it reaches depend in large part on the arguments that the advocates make and the evidence they present. An argument may carry the day in a particular case if counsel advance it skillfully and present persuasive evidence to support it. The same argument may not prevail in another case if the proponents fail to generate a similarly persuasive level of probative evidence or if the opponents respond effectively.
- Lowenstein Sandler, Delaware Chancery Again Rejects Merger Price and Awards Premium