Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi, 2020 Del. LEXIS 100 (Del. Mar. 18, 2020)

RLF writes:

In the highly anticipated decision of Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi, No. 346, 2019 (Del. Mar. 18, 2020), the Delaware Supreme Court, reversing the Delaware Court of Chancery’s decision, confirmed the facial validity of provisions in the certificates of incorporation of Blue Apron Holdings, Inc., Stitch Fix, Inc., and Roku, Inc. requiring all claims under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “’33 Act”) to be brought in federal courts (“Federal Forum Provisions”). Similar provisions have been adopted by dozens of Delaware corporations and are intended to address the inefficiencies of multi-jurisdictional ’33 Act litigation in light of the increasing number of ’33 Act claims filed in state, rather than federal, courts.

via Richards, Layton & Finger

See also Opinion

Manichaean Capital v. SourceHOV Holdings, 2020 Del. Ch. LEXIS 38 (Del. Ch. Jan. 30, 2020)

In fulfilling the statutory mandate to account for “all relevant factors” bearing on “fair value,” Delaware courts consider a range of evidence that often includes (i) “market evidence,” such as a company’s unaffected trading price or the “deal price” following an appropriate “market check” and (ii) “traditional valuation techniques,” such as a comparable company, comparable transaction or DCF analysis. In this case, however, the parties and their experts agree that the circumstances surrounding the Business Combination disqualify market evidence as reliable inputs for a fair value analysis. Accordingly, the valuation presentation from both sides focused on DCF. In my view, that focus was well placed.

SourceHOV’s deal process (or lack thereof) undermines any reliance on deal price as an indicator of fair value. Moreover, as a private company, SourceHOV’s equity was not traded in an efficient market, so its unaffected market price is also an unreliable indicator of fair value. Without reliable market evidence of fair value, the parties were left to focus on “traditional valuation methods” to appraise SourceHOV. This, of course, places the spotlight squarely on their competing valuation experts. In other words, as I see it, this case has played out as the quintessential “battle of the experts.”

Both experts agree there are no sufficiently comparable companies or transactions with which to perform either a trading multiples or a transaction multiples analysis. Given that other valuation techniques do not fit here, both experts also agree that a DCF analysis is the only reliable method to calculate SourceHOV’s fair value. In light of the experts’ agreement, and seeing no reason to disagree, I am satisfied that a DCF analysis is the only reliable indicator of SourceHOV’s fair value. (footnotes omitted)

via Lowenstein Sandler, DealLawyers

In re Appraisal of Panera Bread Company

In re Appraisal of Panera Bread Company, 2020 Del. Ch. LEXIS 42 (Jan. 31, 2020) (Zurn, V.C.)

In this appraisal action, I must determine the fair value of each share of the subject company on the closing date of its acquisition. I find that the process by which the company was sold bore several objective indicia of reliability, which were not undermined by flaws in that process. I therefore find that the deal price is persuasive evidence of fair value, and give no weight to other valuation metrics. I deduct some synergies, but find others were not adequately proven. I undergo that synergies analysis solely to fulfill my statutory mandate, rather than to effectuate any transfer of funds between the parties, because the company prepaid the entire deal price and has no recourse for a refund under the appraisal statute.

via Columbia, S&C,

デラウェア州最高裁判所裁判官の指名

Delaware.gov:

Governor John Carney on Thursday announced his intention to nominate Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. to serve as the next Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. Justice Seitz — who since 2015 has served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court — would replace Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr., who announced his retirement in July. Governor Carney also intends to nominate Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to serve as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, replacing Justice Seitz. (emphases added)

Delaware Business Times writes:

Hamermesh called the nomination of Seitz, whose late father Collins J. Seitz Sr. is held in high regard for his Chancery Court opinion supporting Delaware’s desegregation of schools, for the court’s top seat a “perfectly respectable pick.”

 調べてみましたが、この判決は、どうやらBelton v. Gebhart, 32 Del. Ch. 343, 87 A.2d 862 (Del. Ch. 1952)のようです。著名なBrown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)の2年前の判決ということになります。衡平法裁判所がこういった人権問題を扱っていた時期があるんですね。

I conclude from the testimony that in our Delaware society, State-imposed segregation in education itself results in the Negro children, as a class, receiving educational opportunities which are substantially inferior to those available to white children otherwise similarly situated.

But my factual conclusion does not dispose of the first question presented. I say this because it is necessary to consider the decisions of the United States Supreme Court construing the Fourteenth Amendment as they apply to this general problem. Specifically, I must decide whether such a finding of fact as I have here made, is a proper basis for holding that such separate facilities cannot be equal. In other words, can the “separate but equal” doctrine be legally applied in the fields of elementary and secondary education?

Plaintiffs say that the situation here presented has never been passed upon by the United States Supreme Court, or the Supreme Court of Delaware, and so is an open question. I agree with the plaintiffs that the Supreme Court has not, so far as I can find, passed upon a case containing a specific finding as to the effect on the Negro, educationally, of State-imposed segregation in education. The question, however, which judicial integrity requires me to answer is this: Has the U.S. Supreme Court by fair or necessary implication decided that State-imposed segregated education on the grammar and high school levels, in and of itself, does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment?

The United States Supreme Court first announced what has come to be known as the “separate but equal” doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S.Ct. 1138, 1144, 41 L.Ed. 256. It is, of course, true that that case involved a railway car situation. However, the defendants rely most strongly on Gong Lum v. Rice, 275 U.S. 78, 48 S.Ct. 91, [*350] 72 L.Ed. 172, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927. In that case a Chinese citizen was required to attend an elementary school for Negroes in Mississippi, even though he claimed that he was entitled to admission to the school for whites. The court accepted the conclusion that he was “colored” and stated that the facilities available for Negroes, and therefore available to the Chinese plaintiff, were equal to those offered to the whites. Thus, the question was whether the State was required, under those circumstances, to admit him to the school for white children. The Supreme Court held that the State was not so required, citing many cases for the proposition that such a practice was within the constitutional power of the State, without interference because of the United States Constitution. It is true that there was no proof in that case concerning the effect of such State-imposed segregation on Negroes. But it seems to me that the very use of the “separate but equal” doctrine in an elementary school case, has implicit therein a recognition that in such a case there can be separate but equal educational opportunities in a constitutional sense. Of course, this could not be true were my finding of fact given constitutional recognition, but if it were, the principle itself would be destroyed. In other words, by implication, the Supreme Court of the United States has said a separate but equal test can be applied, at least below the college level. This court does not believe such an implication is justified under the evidence. Nevertheless, I do not believe a lower court can reject a principle of United States constitutional law which has been adopted by fair implication by the highest court of the land. I believe the “separate but equal” doctrine in education should be rejected, but I also believe its rejection must come from that court.

Belton v. Gebhart, 32 Del. Ch. 343, 349-350, 87 A.2d 862, 865 (Del. Ch. 1952 )

via DealLawyers.com, Law.com, Wash. Post, N.Y. Times

William T. Allen (1948–2019)

 Allen教授は、1985年にデラウェア州の衡平法裁判所の大法官(Chancellor)に任命され、以後、12年の任期中に多数の有名な判決を執筆されました。2006年にニューヨーク大学のLL.M.プログラムに入学した際には、会社法プログラムのディレクターでした。

 Intercoは、Allen教授が大法官として執筆されたものの中で(その後最高裁判所に否定されているにもかかわらず)私のお気に入りの判決です。ニューヨーク大学在学中のlunchonセミナーの講演者が「デラウェア州最高裁判所がAllen裁判官の判決を覆したとしても、Allen裁判官がいつも正しい」というようなこといったのが印象に残っています。Allen裁判官のお話は、時に深淵で難しく、その真意を理解することが難しいことがありましたが、Interco判決の素晴らしさを含めて、今思い出して漸く意味が分かることも多いです。

 ニューヨーク大学でのKahan教授とAllen教授の演習では、Kahan教授に一歩も引かずに議論をされていました。スーツが良く似合い、多弁で、Blackberryを腰に下げていて、多忙な実務家を体現していました。演習の中のAllen先生の言葉で印象的なのは、会社法学で重要なのは、エージェンシー理論と情報の非対称性だと仰っていたことです。私が、エージェンシー理論と情報の非対称性にこだわるのは、この影響が強いように思います。

 私にとって、Allen教授は、とてもチャーミングな方で、いかめしそうな大法官という役職とは無縁な方でした。演習で、Lucian Arye Bebchuk, The Case Against Board Veto in Corporate Takeovers, 69 U. Chi. L. Rev. 973 (2002)を報告した際に、同論文の中に出てきたAllen大法官の「Omnipresent specter that a board may be acting primarily in its own interests」という一文を紹介したのですが、Allen先生は、鼻のしたをこすり、また、胸を張って誇らしげでした。そのコミカルなリアクションのおかげで報告の場がなごみました。また、卒業式のセレモニーで、会社法専攻の学生は、Allen教授に名前を呼ばれるのですが、演習に参加していた私の名前を呼ぶ際に、ウインクしてくれたことを覚えています。卒業後は、ニューヨーク大学のLL.M.を受験する学生を推薦するメールを送るくらいしか関係がありませんでしたが、いつも丁寧なメールを返してくれました。教職についたあとは、そのことを祝福し、「Congratulations This is a wonderful job as you know!」というメッセージを送ってくださいました。

 実務と学問のバランスに配慮し、規範的な議論や法政策に基づく議論をすることが重要であることを教えてくれましたし、今後もAllen教授に学ぶことは多いように思います。ご冥福をお祈りいたします。

via WLRK, Delaware Business Now, Delaware Judiciary, Chancery Daily, Professor Bainbridge, John C. Coffee Jr., Ronald J. Gilson, Jack B. Jacobs, Theodore N. Mirvis and Paul K. Rowe, Leo E. Strine Jr.,

In re Appraisal of Jarden Corporation

Lowenstein Sandler writes:

By a July 19, 2019 ruling, Vice Chancellor Slights set the fair value of Jarden Corporation at its unaffected market price of $48.31, below the $59.21 per share value of cash and stock that Newell Rubbermaid had paid to acquire it. The court also performed a DCF analysis that corroborated its valuation. The court was critical of the merger process leading up to this deal and questioned the reliability of a merger-price-less-synergies approach given that factor as well as its findings that there was no pre-signing or post-signing market check and the evidence regarding deal synergies and how much, if at all, was received by Jarden, was conflicting and especially difficult to measure.

株式買取請求権と株価——Verition Partners v. Aruba Networks, 2019 Del. LEXIS 197 (Del. Apr. 16, 2019)

In this statutory appraisal case, the Court of Chancery found that the fair value of Aruba Networks, Inc., as defined by 8 Del. C. § 262, was $17.13 per share, which was the thirty-day average market price at which its shares traded before the media reported news of the transaction that gave rise to the appellants’ appraisal rights. … Because the Court of Chancery’s decision to use Aruba’s stock price instead of the deal price minus synergies was rooted in an erroneous factual finding that lacked record support, we answer that in the positive and reverse the Court of Chancery’s judgment. On remand, the Court of Chancery shall enter a final judgment for the petitioners awarding them $19.10 per share, which reflects the deal price minus the portion of synergies left with the seller as estimated by the respondent in this case, Aruba. …

Likewise, assuming an efficient market, the unaffected market price and that price as adjusted upward by a competitive bidding process leading to a sale of the entire company was likely to be strong evidence of fair value. By asserting that Dell and DFC “indicate[] that Aruba’s unaffected market price is entitled to substantial weight,” the Vice Chancellor seemed to suggest that this Court signaled in both cases that trading prices should be treated as exclusive indicators of fair value. However, Dell and DFC did not imply that the market price of a stock was necessarily the best estimate of the stock’s so-called fundamental value at any particular time. Rather, they did recognize that when a market was informationally efficient in the sense that “the market’s digestion and assessment of all publicly available information concerning [the Company] [is] quickly impounded into the Company’s stock price,” the market price is likely to be more informative of fundamental value. In fact, Dell’s references to market efficiency focused on informational efficiency—the idea that markets quickly reflect publicly available information and can be a proxy for fair value—not the idea that an informationally efficient market price invariably reflects the company’s fair value in an appraisal or fundamental value in economic terms. Nonetheless, to the extent the Court of Chancery read DFC and Dell as reaffirming the traditional Delaware view, which is accepted in corporate finance, that the price a stock trades at in an efficient market is an important indicator of its economic value that should be given weight, it was correct. And to the extent that the Court of Chancery also read DFC and Dell as reaffirming the view that when that market price is further informed by the efforts of arm’s length buyers of the entire company to learn more through due diligence, involving confidential non-public information, and with the keener incentives of someone considering taking the non-diversifiable risk of buying the entire entity, the price that results from that process is even more likely to be indicative of so-called fundamental value, it was correct. …

Under the semi-strong form of the efficient capital markets hypothesis, the unaffected market price is not assumed to factor in nonpublic information. In this case, however, HP had signed a confidentiality agreement, done exclusive due diligence, gotten access to material nonpublic information, and had a much sharper incentive to engage in price discovery than an ordinary trader because it was seeking to acquire all shares. Moreover, its information base was more current as of the time of the deal than the trading price used by the Vice Chancellor. Compounding these issues was the reality that Aruba was set to release strong earnings that HP knew about in the final negotiations, but that the market did not. As previously noted, Aruba’s stock price jumped 9.7% once those earnings were finally reported to the public. None of these issues were illuminated in the traditional way, and none of them were discussed by the Court of Chancery in a reasoned way in giving exclusive weight to a prior trading price that was $7.54 below what HP agreed to pay, and well below what Aruba had previously argued was fair value. (footnotes omitted)

via Steve Hecht, FT, Opinion, DealLawyers, Alison Frankel, Bloomberg Law, Matt Levine, The Chancery Daily, S&C, Potter Anderson, Morris James, CW&T, Ann Lipton, Baker Botts, PLC, Ropes & Gray, WSG&R, WF&G, Fried Frank, PWRW&G, Francis G.X. Pileggi

デラウェア州会社法の改正案(2019年)

Richards, Layton & Finger, 2019 Proposed Amendments to the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware (March 27, 2019)

Appraisal Rights. The 2019 Amendments make several technical changes to Section 262(d), which sets forth the provisions for notices to stockholders in circumstances where they are entitled to appraisal rights, to clarify such notice provisions and conform them to amended Section 232(a). The amendments to Section 262(d) will permit a corporation to deliver a notice of appraisal rights by courier or electronic mail (in addition to by U.S. mail). In addition, Section 262(d) is being amended to permit stockholders to deliver demands for appraisal by electronic transmission. …

via Proposed Amendments