The COVID-19 pandemic is likely a watershed moment for the traditional structure of America’s business workforce.  Although there is much uncertainty and opaqueness about the future, it seems clear that in the short term “remote” work arrangements – remote from large commercial office complexes and from concentrated city centers – will become more common for a substantial part of the workforce.

In the medium and longer terms, the pandemic may also support trends toward a more gig-based workforce in sectors of the labor market that are not currently significantly gig-based, specifically for workers in white-collar, business service industries.  We lay out below a few of the reasons to anticipate that result and briefly explore the principal legal implications for business.  As virtually all companies are considering the impact of the pandemic on their businesses, and specifically the cost-saving potential tied to remote work where feasible, they should take the opportunity now to also consider the possibility that gig-based workforce trends will impact them and how the steps they take in the short term may influence any such impact.  For many public companies, the trends and issues discussed below fall under the umbrella of human capital management strategy, as to which the board of directors may be expected to exercise oversight.[1] Continue Reading The Gig is Up? COVID-19 & Remote Work Trend Toward Growth in Gig Labor*

On May 21, 2020, the SEC adopted extensive amendments to the rules governing financial disclosures by registrants about businesses they acquire or dispose of. They primarily relate to disclosures required by Rule 3-05 and Article 11 of Regulation S-X in registration statements and periodic reports, and, for the most part, they reduce the burden of preparing historical financial statements and pro forma financial information.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published a proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) that would significantly broaden the scope of mandatory filing requirements of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) for foreign investments involving U.S. critical technology businesses.

The Proposed Rule abandons the current restriction to specified industries and focuses on whether the target develops, tests, or manufactures critical technologies that would require a license for export—whether or not the critical technologies are exported or sold to third parties at all (e.g., proprietary manufacturing technologies)—to the jurisdiction of the foreign investor and its parent entities, effectively creating different mandatory notification requirements for different countries.

The Proposed Rule would:

  • Expand the CFIUS mandatory critical technology notification requirement to cover foreign investments in all industries, if the target U.S. business develops, tests, or manufactures technology that would require a license or other authorization under any of the four main U.S. export control regimes to export or transfer to any foreign party in the ownership chain of the investors in the transaction.
  • Complicate the mandatory CFIUS notification analysis by requiring parties to identify the export control status of all products, software, and technology produced, designed, tested, manufactured, fabricated, or developed by the U.S. business (whether or not sold to third parties), all jurisdictions relevant to the investors, and the corresponding licensing requirements, potentially introducing significant delays.
  • Provide a significant exemption from the mandatory notification requirement for a wide range of dual-use goods, software, and technology eligible for export to a list of countries thought to pose a low risk of diversion, based on an existing license exception in the export control rules.

The Proposed Rule also clarifies the ownership rules used to determine when an investor linked to a foreign government is required to file with CFIUS for an investment in a sensitive U.S. technology, infrastructure, or data business.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

On May 18, 2020, partners Michael Albano and Jennifer Kennedy Park participated in a webcast hosted by The Conference Board entitled “Reopen Ready: Managing Governance and Legal Risks in the New Normal.” Michael Ullmann, Executive Vice President, General Counsel of Johnson & Johnson, also participated on the panel. Continue Reading Cleary Partners Participate in Panel Discussion on Reopening Considerations

The COVID-19 pandemic has created market conditions ripe for increased cross border investment as businesses scramble for capital and investors target distressed assets.  The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is focused on the trend.  Senior Department of Defense officials have recently and repeatedly stressed the need for the active use of CFIUS reviews to protect against “adversarial capital coming into our markets for nefarious means” during the current economic crisis.  Against this backdrop, U.S. businesses and foreign investors must be mindful of the CFIUS implications of acquisitions and financing transactions (including the exercise of creditors’ rights with respect to distressed companies).  The attached memorandum explores these issues and available approaches to mitigating them.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

While much of the focus today is on restarting segments of the economy and developing action plans to reopen businesses, history outside of corporate America teaches us important lessons on how incentives can play a role in driving effective outcomes.  It shows us that incentives, not just rules, may be the solution businesses need.  Consider the British prisoner dilemma over two centuries ago as a powerful lesson in incentives and how these lessons can be applied to the current pandemic. Continue Reading Incentives in the Pandemic

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) published an interim rule (the “Interim Rule”) implementing the filing fee provisions of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (“FIRRMA”) along the lines set out in Treasury’s proposal of March 9. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) will assess tiered filing fees for all final notifications filed on or after May 1 (whether or not a draft notification was filed before May 1). The Interim Rule is open for public comment until June 1, 2020.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

This is an updated version of our prior post to address Governor Cuomo’s most recent Executive Orders.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency and ceased operation of all non-essential businesses in New York state with the March 7 Executive Order 202 and its successor Executive Orders.  In particular, the March 20th Executive Order 202.8 provided temporary suspension of several state law regulatory requirements, including with respect to shareholder meetings of New York corporations. Continue Reading UPDATE: Cuomo Executive Order Gives New York Corporations Relief on Physical Annual Meetings

In the current climate of market volatility prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more public companies with valuable US tax assets (e.g., net operating loss carryforwards) may, or at least should, consider adopting a shareholder rights plan in order to preserve those tax assets.  These plans are commonly referred to as “NOL rights plans” (or “NOL poison pills”). Continue Reading Is Now a Good Time to Adopt an NOL Rights Plan?

On April 8, Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) published additional guidance on application of its benchmark voting policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] ISS had previously issued its 2020 benchmark policies update to be applied for shareholder meetings on or after February 1, 2020.[2] Noting the societal and economic uncertainty wrought by COVID-19 since its prior update, ISS provides further guidance focused on four key areas:

  • Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) Issues;
  • Poison Pills, Shareholder Rights and Boards/Directors;
  • Compensation Issues; and
  • Capital Structure and Payouts.

Continue Reading ISS Issues Additional Voting Policy Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic