Standardization can be a virtue and one that M&A lawyers, likely due to self-interest and ego, sometimes resist.  If venture financing and derivatives practices can have widely accepted forms of legal documentation as a starting point, why should M&A be an exception?  Ironically, agreements for takeovers of publicly traded companies – once revered as a rarified realm that only an elite group huddled in skyscrapers in Manhattan could navigate – has evolved considerably toward standard forms thanks to enhanced attention to these publicly filed agreements and an effort by Delaware courts to draw clearer guidelines about precisely what will and will not fly in the world of “public M&A.” 
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Last week, the Delaware Court of Chancery found that a target company in an agreed merger properly terminated the merger agreement following the passage of the specified “end date” where the buyer failed to exercise its right under the agreement to extend the end date.  See Vintage Rodeo Parent, LLC v. Rent-a-Center, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0927-SG (Del. Ch. Mar. 14, 2019).  The decision is a stark reminder that courts will enforce the terms of a merger agreement as written, and that the failure to comply with seemingly ministerial formalities can have severe consequences.   
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Last month, former Uber executive Eric Alexander filed a complaint (the “Complaint”) against another former Uber executive, Rachel Whetstone.  The Complaint alleges breach of a mutual non-disparagement clause in Whetstone’s separation agreement with Uber; a clause that Whetstone, during her negotiation with Uber, apparently insisted specifically name Alexander and preclude them from disparaging each other.  In the Complaint, Alexander alleges that he is a third party beneficiary of the contract and can therefore enforce the non-disparagement obligation against Whetstone.

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Until Vice Chancellor Laster’s decision last week in Akorn Inc. v. Fresenius KABI AG,[1] no Delaware court had released an acquiror from its obligation to close a transaction as a result of the occurrence of a “Material Adverse Effect.”[2]  The cases previously adjudicated in Delaware all had required the acquiror to close, often despite a significant diminishment in target value and, in some, the court criticized the acquiror for seeking to avoid its obligations based on little more than buyer’s remorse.  Against this weight of precedent, the Vice Chancellor found that the grievous decline of generics pharmaceutical company Akorn, Inc. after it agreed to be acquired by Fresenius constituted a MAC.  While Akorn presents a stark set of facts and the Delaware Supreme Court has yet to have the final word in the case,[3] the decision nonetheless provides useful guidance to practitioners in shaping and navigating MAC clauses and related contractual provisions.
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Lenders’ freedom to transfer their participations in large leveraged loans has been gradually eroded by developments introduced through the last few credit cycles.

This market wrap covers the development of the transferability clause from the early 2000s through to post-crisis developments.

If you have any questions concerning this memorandum, please feel free to contact the

For the past several years Cleary Gottlieb has published legal and practical information regarding German public M&A transactions.  For the new edition of the compilation Public Bids and Squeeze-Outs in Germany, a Statistical Survey (2002 – 2016), we have collected and analyzed information related to public bids and squeeze-outs in Germany from January 2002 through December 2016.
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U.S. and European companies continue to receive bids to sell themselves and their significant assets to companies based in the People’s Republic of China.  Evaluation of these proposals requires due diligence of the acquiror’s ownership structure, assets, cash position, and financing sources.  Moreover, even if this due diligence exercise gives rise to satisfactory results, the continued unpredictability of the PRC government (including its recently enhanced foreign exchange control measures), coupled with the ties of some of these buyers and financing sources to governmental entities in the PRC, as well as the challenges that a non-PRC counterparty faces when seeking to enforce contractual obligations and non-PRC judgments in PRC courts, merit the implementation of an array of innovative provisions in M&A Agreements to protect the seller/target.  Several months ago, we reviewed these provisions in a popular post.  This new post updates that earlier post to reflect recent regulatory developments and the evolution of market practice.
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In a recent decision, the Supreme Court eliminated laches as a defense in patent litigation; as a result, defendants are more vulnerable to unexpected claims of patent infringement.[1]  Given this new layer of risk, it is even more important to conduct thorough and nuanced patent infringement diligence on an M&A target, and parties to M&A transactions should take this increased exposure to liability into account when negotiating the relevant representations and warranties and indemnities.
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The Delaware Supreme Court has affirmed the Delaware Court of Chancery’s ruling that Energy Transfer Equity L.P. (“ETE”) did not breach its agreement to merge with The Williams Companies, Inc. when ETE terminated the agreement on the grounds that its counsel was unwilling to deliver a tax opinion that was a condition to closing.

While

Appraisal rights in public M&A transactions have recently garnered greater attention, particularly in Delaware.  As a result, more attention is being paid to the possible inclusion of a closing condition protecting the acquiror against excessive use of appraisal rights, and this should lead to careful attention being paid to the negotiation and drafting of any such conditions and related provisions.  Discussed below are some of the reasons for this greater attention, and suggestions regarding negotiating and drafting such provisions.
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