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Updated Guidance (and Ground Rules) for Controlling Stockholder Deals

The Delaware Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Kahn v. M&F Worldwide (“MFW”) provided a business judgment rule protection for controlling stockholder transactions which are conditioned from the outset on certain procedural protections being utilized, including approval by (1) a fully-empowered independent special committee and (2) a fully-informed, uncoerced vote of a majority of the target minority stockholders unaffiliated with the controller. While MFW provided helpful guideposts for avoiding entire fairness review in controlling stockholder transactions, questions remained as to the application of MWF to different types of deals and negotiations, and the consequences of small deviations from strict adherence to MFW. Recent guidance from the Delaware Court of Chancery has given way to updated ground rules for controlling stockholder transactions: (i) MFW also applies to deals where the controlling is only on the sell-side; (ii) other conflicted controller transactions besides mergers, such as recapitalizations, are eligible for MFW protection; and (iii) small foot faults will not cause the business judgment rule protection afforded by MFW to be lost.

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The Ropes Recap: Mergers & Acquisitions Law News

Practices: Mergers & Acquisitions

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Linked is the Second Quarter 2016 edition of the Ropes & Gray M&A Newsletter. Topics addressed in this edition include: 

News from the Courts 
  • Delaware Court of Chancery Rejects Transaction Price as the Best Measure of Fair Value in Dell Appraisal Litigation 
  • Delaware Court Rejects Claim of Bad Faith Where Board Instructed Financial Advisor to Ignore Management’s Optimistic Financial Projections 
  • Chancery Court Equates Tender of Shares to a Stockholder Vote in Determining the Standard of Judicial Scrutiny for Board of Directors Who Approved Volcano Corp. Merger 
  • New York Court of Appeals Adopts Delaware Law, Affirming Business Judgment Deference for Kenneth Cole’s Controlling Stockholder Transactions Structured with Minority Protections 
  • Delaware Supreme Court Holds that Sale of Zale Approved by Uncoerced, Disinterested, and Informed Stockholders are Properly Reviewed Under a Corporate Waste Standard 
  • Chancery Court Offers Guidance on “Commercially Reasonable Efforts” Standard in Williams Cos. v. Energy Transfer Equity Litigation 
  • New York Court of Appeals Rules that Communications between Merger Parties Countrywide and Bank of America Are Not Protected by the Common Interest Exception to the Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege 
  • Sun Capital Partners on Remand: District Court Rules that Related Funds May be Held Liable for Pension Fund Withdrawal Liabilities 
Delaware Legislative Update
Tax Update
SEC Update
UK Update

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