On Friday, March 15, 2024, the Council of the European Union reached an agreement on a final version of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (“CS3D”). The vote on an earlier version of the CS3D had been postponed several times after some Member States announced that they were going to abstain from voting. After further changes and compromises, the now agreed version obtain the required majority amongst Member States. The last step for the directive to enter into force now is for it to be approved by the European Parliament. The CS3D seeks to integrate human rights and environmental concerns into business operations and to promote sustainable and responsible business behavior along the supply chain and require the remaining Member States to implement the due diligence requirements it sets out into law.Continue Reading Update on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

In a February 28, 2024 opinion, the Delaware Court of Chancery confirmed an arbitrator’s award resulting in a seller of a $40 million company unexpectedly having to pay a buyer over twice that amount – $87 million – in a customary post-closing purchase price adjustment. The adjustment seems to have resulted from an ambiguity in the purchase agreement involving a drafting technicality in the definition of “Closing Date Indebtedness” and seller and buyer taking a different view of the pre- and post-closing accounting treatment of indebtedness of a joint venture in which the target company held a one-third interest due to an internal reorganization conducted at buyer’s request. Despite the court’s view that the award was economically divorced from the intended goals of the purchase agreement, it awarded summary judgement for the buyer, concluding that the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority. The case illustrates the importance of understanding the accounting implications of legal drafting in the customary purchase price adjustment sections of a purchase agreement, as well as the choice of what type of dispute resolution mechanism is selected by the parties for purchase price adjustment disputes.Continue Reading Raw Deal: Seller Ordered to Pay Buyer Over Twice the Purchase Price in Post-Closing Purchase Price Adjustment Dispute

With a stroke of the pen, the Delaware Court of Chancery invalidated commonplace provisions in scores of stockholder agreements relating to public corporations and likely many more relating to private corporations.  In West Palm Beach Firefighters’ Pension Fund v. Moelis & Company (“Moelis”)[1], Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, struck down an entire package of stockholder veto rights and held that provisions in a stockholder agreement purporting to restrict the size of the board of directors, requiring the board to recommend in favor of a stockholder nominee, requiring the board to fill any vacancy on the board with a stockholder nominee or to include a stockholder nominated director on committees of the board, are all facially invalid as a matter of Delaware law.  Vice Chancellor Laster noted that many of these provisions would have been valid if set out in the corporation’s certificate of incorporation, rather than in the stockholder agreement.Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Invalidates Common Provisions in Stockholder Agreements

In a recent decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery grappled with the question whether—and to what extent—claims for breach of fiduciary duty can be waived ex ante in a corporate shareholder agreement.  Specifically, in New Enterprise Associates 14 LP v. Rich, the court denied a motion to dismiss claims for breach of fiduciary duties brought against directors and controlling stockholders of Fugue, Inc. (the “Company”) by sophisticated private fund investors who had agreed to an express waiver of the right to bring such claims.[1]  Importantly, the court found that fiduciary duties in a corporation can be tailored by parties to a shareholders agreement who are sophisticated, and were validly waived by the voting agreement in this case (which specifically addressed the type of transaction at issue).  The court, however, held that public policy prohibits contracts from insulating directors or controlling stockholders from tort or fiduciary liability in a case of intentional wrongdoing, which the court found was plausibly alleged in this case. The court’s opinion has implications for sophisticated investors in venture capital and other private transactions involving Delaware corporations. The opinion cautions against overreliance on express contractual waivers, on the one hand, while also serves as a reminder that at least in some circumstances sophisticated parties can contract around default legal principles (including fiduciary duties), even with respect to corporations.Continue Reading Delaware Chancery Court Highlights Tension Between Freedom of Contract and Corporate Fiduciary Duties

In a recent opinion addressing breaches of fiduciary duties and disclosure violations in connection with a take-private of Mindbody, Inc. by Vista Equity Partners, the Delaware Court of Chancery reinforced the significance (to both buyers and sellers) of avoiding conflicts in a sell-side process and ensuring all material facts are disclosed to the target’s board 

Last week, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Department of the Treasury adopted a final rule (the “Final Rule”) to implement the beneficial ownership reporting requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act, part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.

This legislation requires a range of U.S. legal entities, and non-U.S. legal entities registered to

On December 7, 2021, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens (BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN) and the Free Democrats (FDP) concluded the coalition agreement for the 20th legislative period of the German Parliament (2021 until 2025), in which they announced, inter alia, their intention to amend the German corporate co-determination law and to extend the scope of application of the German One-Third Participation Act (Drittelbeteiligungsgesetz).
Continue Reading German Plans to Extend the Scope of Corporate Co-Determination Rights for Employees