On March 25, 2019, partners Lev Dassin and Arthur Kohn participated in a webcast hosted by The Conference Board, entitled “Corporate Prosecutions: What Companies, Boards and Executives Need to Know.”  Daniel Gitner, a partner at Lankler Siffert & Wohl, also participated on the panel.

The panelists and moderator Doug Chia, executive director of The Conference Board, began by discussing corporate prosecutions generally, including the history of corporate prosecutions and how DOJ attitudes regarding corporate prosecutions have changed over time.  Dassin explained that the DOJ has more recently refocused its attention on prosecuting individuals engaged in corporate misconduct. Continue Reading Cleary Partners Participate in Panel Discussion on Corporate Prosecutions

On March 27, 2019, journalists affiliated with Reuters reported that the Kunlun Group (“Kunlun”), a China-based tech firm, was preparing to sell its wholly owned subsidiary, Grindr, after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) informed the group that Kunlun’s continued ownership of Grindr constituted a national security risk.  This forced divestiture of Grindr is a pointed reminder that CFIUS remains focused on protecting the sensitive personal data of U.S. citizens, has the power to upend closed deals that have not been cleared by the committee, and is dedicating increased resources to the review of transactions that are not notified to CFIUS. Continue Reading CFIUS Forces Kunlun to Unwind 2016 Acquisition of Grindr Over Concerns About the Protection of Sensitive Personal Data

On March 20, 2019, the SEC adopted a collection of amendments to its rules and forms intended to modernize and simplify some of the disclosure requirements applicable to U.S. public companies. The amendments implement a statutory directive under the 2015 FAST Act. They span a number of topics, including MD&A, property, risk factors, confidential treatment requests and exhibits. Almost all of the changes remove or lighten previous requirements and many will be quite helpful for companies in practice. Therefore, a careful review of the revised form requirements in connection with upcoming filings is likely to prove worthwhile.

We discuss the more significant of the amendments in the linked memorandum and summarize other, more ministerial amendments in a list at the end. Underlying the more significant changes is a principles-based approach that allows a company to tailor disclosure to its own circumstances and to make judgments about materiality, exemplifying a regulatory trend that can benefit companies and investors alike if it reduces irrelevant and immaterial disclosure.

The amendments relating to the redaction of confidential information in certain exhibits became effective immediately upon publication of the final rule release in the Federal Register on April 2, 2019. The rest of the amendments will become effective on May 2, 2019, except that a few (related to data tagging and some investment company filings) have longer phase-in periods.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

This month, the UK Takeover Panel published Response Statement 2018/1, which confirmed the amendments that will be made to the rules of the UK Takeover Code in relation to asset valuations published during the course of a takeover bid.

The changes will come into effect on 1 April 2019 and largely track the Panel’s proposals in its Public Consultation Paper 2018/1, with minor modifications.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

In November 2018, the UK Takeover Panel published Panel Consultation Paper 2018/2 which set out proposed amendments to the UK Takeover Code as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

This month, the Panel published its Response Statement in which it confirmed the changes that will come into effect after Brexit. The main change is that, following Brexit, the Panel will no longer regulate (in whole or part) offers for EEA-registered companies that previously fell under the shared jurisdiction regime.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

On January 1, 2019, the “Act on Further Development of Part-Time Employment Law” (Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung des Teilzeitrechts) entered into force in Germany.

The new legislation implements considerable changes to the German Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act (Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz ) and introduces (i) an entitlement to work part-time on a temporary basis, coupled with (ii) an entitlement to return to full-time employment (so-called “Bridge Part-Time Work” (Brückenteilzeit)). Continue Reading “Bridge Part-Time Work” in Germany

German M&A market makes solid start to the new year. Pharma and chemicals specialist Merck announces cash offer to take over Versum Materials, a US semiconductor company, in a deal valued at approx. USD 5.9 billion. Merck’s aim is to forestall the agreed merger between Versum and Entegris. Merck had only recently entered into a multi-billion cooperation agreement with GlaxoSmithKline in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Symrise wants to take over nutritional products supplier ADF/IDF for around $900 million. Family company Kathrein divests its antenna business to Ericsson. Fashion label Tom Tailor sees major shareholder Fosun increase its shareholding by way of a capital increase, followed by a public tender offer. Continue Reading.

In recent years, in part in response to decisions like Corwin that have raised the pleading standard for stockholder plaintiffs, the Delaware courts have encouraged stockholders to seek books and records under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) before filing stockholder derivative or post-merger damages suits, and – in response – each year more stockholders have done so.  As a result of this trend, we have already seen several important decisions addressing books and records demands in 2019.  These decisions have (i) clarified the types of documents that may be obtained, including (in some limited circumstances) personal emails or text messages; (ii) explained when a stockholder’s demand will be denied as impermissibly lawyer-driven (and when it will not be); and (iii) described the threshold showing of suspected wrongdoing that stockholders must make.  As the plaintiffs’ bar makes more use of Section 220, these are important issues for boards of directors to consider. Continue Reading The Rise of Books and Records Demands Under Section 220 of the DGCL

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.    Continue Reading Target’s Termination of Merger Agreement Approved Based on Plain Contract Language

If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.”  Ernest Rutherford

Sometimes you need to get into the fundamentals to understand if your belief system is sound.  In corporate governance literature of the last two decades, there is no more fundamental concept than Tobin’s Q, which legions of law professors have used as a proxy for firm value.  Based on regression analyses examining variations in Tobin’s Q, they have made definitive pronouncements about any number of corporate governance topics, from staggered boards to the value of activism.  Yet tracing the evolution of Tobin’s Q to its current state—a state completely alien to the original conception—reveals a twisted tale, proceeding like an epidemiological disaster in which Tobin’s Q transforms from an innocent and useful organism in macroeconomics to an unrecognizably mutated and widespread disease in corporate governance literature, infecting policies and practices throughout the corporate governance world. Continue Reading Mutant Q – The Superbug Infecting Foundational Studies on Entrenchment, Staggered Boards, and Activism