Fried Frank, The Appraisal Landscape: Key Points, Open Issues, and Practice Points

 2017年のデラウェア州最高裁による株式買取請求権に関する2つの事件(DFC GloblとDell)に関する法律事務所のメモランダムです。著者の一人であるScott Luftglass氏とは、Davis Polk時代に一緒に働いたことがあります。典型的な訴訟弁護士で、訴訟弁護士は、事務屋よりも緻密だと感じました。今回の記事もよく纏まっています。

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Guhan Subramanian, Using the Deal Price for Determining `Fair Value’ in Appraisal Proceedings

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.


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Professors Weigh In On DFC Global Appeal


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.


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