A categorical/presumptive rule is bad law. The mandatory language of Section 262 of the Delaware General Corporate Law (DGCL) directs the Court of Chancery to “take into account all relevant factors” in determining fair value. As explained below, the appraisal remedy is separate and distinct from the common law governing fiduciary duties and cleansing conflicts of interest. A merger-price presumption would also disregard the principles enunciated in Weinberger v. UOP, 457 A.2d 701 (Del. 1983), directing the Court of Chancery to value companies using methodologies recognized and applied by professionals in the field, including (but not limited to) discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. Instead, a broadly hewn “Merger Price” rule would effectively nullify the appraisal remedy, undermining the statutory mandate of \S~262.
A categorical/presumptive rule is also bad economics: To be sure, the price resulting from an arm’s-length process may accurately reflect fair value. But not always. In numerous seemingly benign cases, a facially disinterested process can still render a price falling short of fair value. In such situations, fair compensation requires an appraisal rule that is independent of the merger price. In fact, even the credible threat of an appraisal untethered to the merger price increases the chance that a market process will more accurately reflect fair value, as both bidders and target boards internalize the cost of approving a transaction at the lowest end of the range of fair values. As explained below, this ex ante benefit persists even if appraisals are prone to judicial error.
Finally, a categorical/presumptive rule is bad legal policy. Simply put, context matters: The evidentiary value of the deal price is a highly fact-sensitive question, ill-suited to a bright-line test. Any attempt at judicial line-drawing—preordaining circumstances where the transaction price must (or must not) be taken as conclusive—is doomed to be both over- and under-inclusive. The jurisprudential straightjacket urged by Appellant undermines the judicial discretion of Delaware’s sophisticated judiciary—a key factor in Delaware’s corporate law dominance.
- Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Preparing Your 2016 Form 20-F (Dec. 8, 2016)
- Lowenstein Sandler, Delaware Chancery Again Rejects Merger Price and Awards Premium
- TPI Composites, Inc. Form 10-Q:
The results of the 2016 United States presidential and congressional elections may create regulatory uncertainty for the wind energy sector and may materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
- Cooley LLP, Proxy Access Test Drive Hits a Wall
NFG reminded GAMCO that a shareholder seeking to use proxy access must, under the terms of NFG’s proxy access bylaw, make certain representations and warranties, including a representation that the shareholder acquired the shares used to satisfy the proxy access eligibility threshold “in the ordinary course of business and not with the intent to change or influence control of the Corporation, and does not presently have such intent.” If the representation were not correct, NFG indicated, the shareholder would not be eligible to use proxy access.
- Wachtell Lipton Rosen and Katz, End of the First Proxy Access Campaign