In the last couple of years, at the Chancery Court, chancellors have started moving away from the view that the court will determine fair value without regard to the merger price. Now, in certain circumstances (where the deal price is a product of a competitive or robust sales price) chancellors may consider merger price as one of the relevant factors for purposes of determining fair value.
Now this question has found its way to the Delaware Supreme Court and the parties are lining up on both sides. There are even amici! Two sets of amici have rolled up: on the one side there are law professors arguing that the court should be able to presumptively rely on merger price to determine fair value in an appraisal proceeding unless that price does not result from arm’s length bargaining (DFC Holdings – Bainbridge, et al). On the other are law professors arguing requiring a court to rely on merger price to determine fair value would run counter to the language of the statutory appraisal remedy and also not always reflect fair value (DFC Holdings – Talley, et al.
DFC Globalの件では、既に、amicus breifを紹介しておりますが、引用されているもののうち後者のamicus briefは、次のような書き出しです。こちらのbriefも錚々たる教授陣です。私は、独立当事者間の株式買取請求権の公正な価格が、取引価格に縛られないと思っているので、後者のbriefに親近感を覚えます。
Appellant urges the Court to adopt a rule of law in appraisal proceedings that presumptively requires the Court of Chancery to defer exclusively to the transaction price unless that price does not result from an arm’s-length process. Amici disagree: Doing so would be a trifecta of bad law, bad economics, and bad policy.
via Brian JM Quinn
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.
via Lowenstein Sandler, Lowenstein Sandler