There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent precedent-setting judgement, Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71, in which the Court recognized, for the first time, a new common law duty that applies to the performance of contracts throughout Canada. The new common law duty is a duty of honest performance, and is a manifestation of the general organizing principle of good faith. The implication is that parties must perform their contractual duties honestly and reasonably, and that they must have appropriate regard to the legitimate contractual interests of the other parties to the contract. … Continue Reading
Industry Canada has announced that the 2015 Investment Canada Act (“Act”) threshold that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadians will be C$369 million. This is an increase from last year’s $354 million threshold. The threshold applies to the gross book value of the target’s assets. Note that under the Act, a non-Canadian includes a Canadian-incorporated entity that is ultimately controlled outside of Canada.
The existing lower threshold of C$5 million will continue to apply to transactions that relate to cultural businesses or where none of the parties are from a country that is a WTO member.… Continue Reading
A duty to negotiate in good faith appears to run counter to the adversarial nature of bargaining. However, parties may have a duty to negotiate in good faith according to the recent decision in SCM Insurance Services Inc. v. Medisys Corporate Health LP, 2014 ONSC 2632, where the Ontario Superior Court held that the parties had intended to create “an enforceable obligation” to negotiate in good faith despite no express covenant to do so.
Summary of Facts
In 2011, Medisys sold its independent medical examinations (IME) business to the Plaintiffs and agreed to a five year non-compete and non-solicit … Continue Reading
Last fall, we featured a blog post that offered a Canadian perspective on the interpretation and use of benchmarking in efforts clauses. Some of the commentary that ensued suggests that Canadian courts were “doomed to incoherence” by distinguishing between best efforts and reasonable efforts.[i]
Yet this distinction between efforts clauses has existed for some time in Canadian jurisprudence[ii] and Canadian courts have continued to render coherent decisions with very little difficulty in applying the standards of performance to efforts clauses.[iii] This leads to the reasonable conclusion that, in fact, there is no crisis and no reason to … Continue Reading
There are important lessons in a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision examining shotgun buy-sell provisions, and in particular, the enforceability of a buy-sell offer that does not perfectly comply with the terms and conditions of the shotgun provision.
Unanimous shareholder agreements, partnership agreements, and joint venture agreements often contain what is commonly known as a “shotgun buy-sell provision”, which provides a mechanism for involuntarily expelling one or more parties from the business venture when the business relationship between them sours.… Continue Reading
Industry Canada has announced that the Investment Canada Act (Act) threshold for 2014 that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadian investors from World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries is $354 million (an increase from last year’s $344 million threshold). The threshold applies to the gross book value of the target’s assets. Note that under the Act, a non-Canadian includes a Canadian-incorporated entity that is ultimately controlled outside of Canada.
The lower threshold of $5 million continues to apply to direct investments that relate to cultural businesses or where none of the non-Canadian parties comes from a … Continue Reading
In July, we published a blog post on the Canadian M&A landscape in the first half of 2013. As 2013 has now come to an end, it seems appropriate to recap what happened in the second half of 2013. McCarthy Tétrault advised on seven of Lexpert’s top ten deals of 2013, published in the January issue of Lexpert. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the major trends and deals that transpired during Q3 and Q4 of 2013.
Second Half Sees Fewer but Larger Deals
Canadian companies were involved in 2,325 announced deals valued at $158.2 billion in 2013, down … Continue Reading
Check out our new post published on our Retail Consumer and Advisor Blog on Buying Into Beauty, the recent Mergermarket report prepared in association with Michel Dyens & Co. In addition to highlighting some of what we think are the key themes coming out of that report for the retail and consumer products audience in particular, our post also summarizes some of what we think are the key takeaways on M&A activity in the beauty and personal care industry more generally.
Of course there is plenty more exciting news on M&A activity in this space, which you can read about … Continue Reading
In our recent post we considered, to what extent, the seller in the context of an M&A transaction should care about legal due diligence, and suggested that there are a number of important reasons why a seller should concern itself with legal due diligence in the face of an acquisition.
In addition to our thoughts on the utility of seller due diligence for the purpose of uncovering potential barriers to the sale of the target business, the seller will also want to ensure that it can actually make the representations and warranties that it has been asked to make in … Continue Reading
Legal due diligence is typically a key part of an acquisition, but historically the focus has been on diligence from the perspective of the buyer, and less frequently from the perspective of the seller. Of course, this is natural given it’s the buyer who will want to uncover everything it can about the business it plans to acquire before a definitive agreement is entered into. But does this mean that sellers shouldn’t also care about legal due diligence?
There are a number of important reasons why a seller should concern itself with legal due diligence in the face of a … Continue Reading
The authors of a recent US article appearing in Corporate Counsel explored how efforts clauses – that is, contractual provisions that require one party to a contract to exercise some standard of effort to maximize the benefits to be received by the other party to the contract – may be improved. Their hypothesis is simple: parties often expend far too much time negotiating over the adjectives “reasonable” or “best” and far too little time drafting benchmarks into the agreement as an objective measure of how efforts are to be applied. Their conclusion is that open-ended benchmarking assists in ensuring parties … Continue Reading
As we move into the second half of 2013, it seems appropriate to look back at what has gone on so far this year across the Canadian M&A landscape. Below we’ve highlighted some of the major news items and deals that have taken place so far.
First Half Sees Fewer and Smaller Deals. The first quarter of 2013 ended with the fewest number of Canadian M&A transactions in a particular quarter since Q1 2011. By value, it was the quietest quarter in three years. A first quarter Mergermarket report found an 11.4% reduction in deal volume (124 announced transactions) and … Continue Reading
Recently, in Proton Energy Group SA v. Public Company Orlen Lietuva,  EWHC 334 (Comm), the English High Court found in a preliminary motion that it was “plausible” that an email with the word “confirmed” was sufficient to constitute the acceptance of an offer even though several terms remained subject to further negotiations.… Continue Reading
The Canadian government’s Bill C-60 contains proposed amendments to the Investment Canada Act that will significantly impact foreign investors whom the Canadian government considers as state-owned enterprises (SOEs). An investor might be an SOE even if a foreign state only indirectly “influences” the investor. Under these amendments, if the Minister of Industry determines that an investor is an SOE and it is acquiring control of a Canadian business, then the applicable review threshold will be the lower SOE-specific threshold and not the significantly higher threshold for non-SOE investments. A finding by the Minister that an investor is an SOE may … Continue Reading
The Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision in Francoeur v. 4417186 Canada Inc., 2013 QCCA 191, provides a cautionary tale on the dangers of entering into a share purchase agreement and subsequently closing a share purchase transaction, without ample due diligence.
The one-sided apportionment of risk
- The purchaser acknowledged that (a) until closing, it did not have access to certain “key documents” held under seal, (b) it had not undertaken any due diligence, and (c)
Last Spring we announced a special series of blog posts aimed at addressing some of the most significant distinctions between Canadian and US law that ought to be considered in the early stages of the proposed acquisition of a Canadian target.
- Financing considerations in: Financing the Acquisition of a Canadian Business: Cross-Border Credit Transactions;
- Acquisition structures in: Plan of Arrangement – A Flexible “Made-in-Canada” Acquisition Structure;
- Updates to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in: Overseas Financing and Acquisitions: The Increasing Importance of Anti-Corruption
Most M&A contracts contain provisions that confer discretionary contractual powers on one or both parties to the transaction (e.g., the right to withhold consent to an assignment). One of the most pressing questions in modern contract law is whether the party in possession of such a power must exercise it in good faith. In Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2013 ABCA 98, the Alberta Court of Appeal recently addressed this issue, and held that parties are not under a duty of good faith in exercising a right of non-renewal when the term of an evergreen contract comes to an end. … Continue Reading
In my last post, I briefly canvassed the differences between defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) pension plans. I cautioned that, due to their perceived financial predictability and apparent straightforward nature, DC plans don’t always get the attention that they deserve from buyers undergoing the due diligence review of a target.
While DB plans give rise to greater financial risk, most practitioners agree that DC plans give rise to greater legal risk. For all their complexity, the rules governing DB plans are at least predictable (even if not necessarily “employer-friendly”). The rules governing DC plans in each Canadian … Continue Reading
Although we often think of the regimes that govern registrations made against personal property as a concern to lenders and their counsel, M&A lawyers and business people are unable to escape this area of the law… at least not completely. As part of the legal due diligence process in almost any M&A deal, registrations against the target’s assets will be uncovered. As such, the target and its counsel will want to ensure that any disclosure surrounding these registrations lines up with the representations made in the purchase agreement, and the buyer and its counsel will want comfort surrounding the scope … Continue Reading
When purchasing an existing business, many buyers are understandably reluctant to assume obligations under a target’s defined benefit (DB) pension plan. Under a traditional DB plan, members (i.e. plan participants) are entitled to a guaranteed pension amount calculated by a formula. While active employees may contribute to such plans, each Canadian jurisdiction’s laws place the employer squarely on the hook if the plan’s assets are not enough to fund the promised benefits – and, as many of us have now seen, DB plans’ current funding woes are well-publicized. In addition, DB plans are subject to a complex regulatory scheme and … Continue Reading
In our last post, we looked at six traditional resources and more sophisticated paid services that help bring us up to speed in the M&A world. In this post we will list some of the more contemporary deal commentary resources:
- NY Times DealB%k: This blog delivers the latest news on mergers, acquisitions, venture capital and hedge funds. DealBook aggregates news from various internet sources and publications and offers a free email newsletter before the opening bell and after market close. Steven M. Davidoff, writing as The Deal Professor, is a highly regarded commentator for DealBook who
Whether you’re a seasoned deal maker or just starting out, we all rely on various resources to stay apprised of the cutting edge developments in M&A. Given that the latest information is driven by online resources, we thought it would be appropriate to put together a list of our favourite resources that help keep us plugged in to emerging trends and events:
- SEDAR and EDGAR: SEDAR is the mandatory document filing and retrieval system for all Canadian public companies and in many ways is the equivalent of EDGAR. SEDAR is perhaps so obvious and common it doesn’t need
It is quite common in negotiated acquisitions for companies to perform a pre-signing market canvass and to enter into an acquisition agreement that contains a “no-shop” provision with a fiduciary out clause for unsolicited third-party proposals, as well as a break fee payable in the eventuality of the target company accepting a superior offer. Less common is the practice of foregoing the pre-signing market canvass and combining a “go-shop” provision that allows the target company to actively solicit superior proposals for a specified period of time after entering into the acquisition agreement with a two-tiered break fee that provides for … Continue Reading
For those interested, the updated edition of McCarthy Tétrault’s 2012 biannual Canada Tax Service Quick Reference Guide is now available on Thomson Reuters/Carswell’s website. The handy booklet is an excellent reference tool for tax practitioners, financial advisors, businesses and individuals seeking pertinent tax rates and facts.
¬ Tax Information Exchange Agreements
¬ Withholding Tax Rates for Selected Treaty Countries
¬ Selected Government Contact Numbers
¬ Federal Personal Tax Credits
¬ Personal Tax Bracket … Continue Reading