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Bitcoin Accepted Here? Funding M&A Transactions by Way of Bitcoin

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Strategy

There is no denying the increasing popularity and notoriety of the virtual currency Bitcoin.  Bitcoin market capitalization currently stands in the billions of dollars, with over 13 million Bitcoins having been mined and made available for circulation.  An increasing number of merchants, including Dell, have begun accepting payment by way of Bitcoin.  The list of goods and services that have been purchased with Bitcoin now includes university tuition, airline tickets, cars, and pizza delivery.  Some companies have started paying employees in Bitcoins.  Canada in particular has been a world leader in Bitcoin ATM’s: the first Bitcoin ATM in the world … Continue Reading

GOOD FAITH BARGAINING? Recent Decision Implies a Duty to Negotiate in Good Faith

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Strategy

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

New 2014 Competition Act Merger Notification Threshold

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A

The pre-merger notification transaction-size threshold for 2014 has increased to $82 million from the 2013 threshold of $80 million. As per the indexing mechanism set out in the Competition Act (Act), the pre-merger notification threshold is reviewed annually.

The threshold is based on the book value of assets in Canada of the target (or in the case of an asset purchase, of the assets in Canada being acquired), or the gross revenues from sales “in or from” Canada generated by those assets, calculated in accordance with the Notifiable Transactions Regulations under the Act.  The Competition Bureau must generally be given … Continue Reading

SHOTGUN! You should know this before triggering a buy-sell provision

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Shareholders, Strategy

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

DEFENSIVE TACTICS DURING A PROXY CONTEST: lessons from the Oremex saga

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Shareholders, Strategy

There are important lessons in a recent Ontario Superior Court decision examining defensive tactics taken by a board in the context of a contested shareholders’ meeting.

In Concept Capital Management Ltd. v. Oremex Silver Inc., 2013 ONSC 7820, the board of Oremex – during a contested election — postponed a shareholders’ meeting and issued shares to a third party, GRIT, in a financing transaction that closed in escrow on the same date as the revised record date for the meeting. Oremex took the view that the new shares could be voted at the contested meeting.

Continue Reading

New 2014 Investment Canada Act WTO Review Threshold

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

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

A Guide to Canadian M&A in the Second Half of 2013

Posted in Awards and Recognitions, Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

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

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL?

Lessons from the SEC’s recent “ring fencing” settlement with Revlon

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders

The recent settlement in the United States between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Revlon highlights the importance of not appearing to obstruct the flow of material information to shareholders.

The SEC settled charges that Revlon misled shareholders during a going private transaction. The SEC’s order found that to avoid a potential disclosure obligation, Revlon engaged in “ring fencing” to avoid knowing that the transaction’s consideration had been deemed inadequate by a third party’s financial advisor.… Continue Reading

Dealmaking in the Beauty and Personal Care Space

Highlights from the Recent Mergermarket Report, Buying Into Beauty

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A

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

Should a Seller Care About Due Diligence?

Yes. And here are a few MORE reasons why.

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

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

Should a Seller Care About Due Diligence?

Yes. And here’s a few reasons why.

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

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

Are you meeting expectations? A Case for Benchmarking

A Canadian perspective on the interpretation and use of benchmarking in an efforts clause

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

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

A Guide to Canadian M&A in the First Half of 2013

Recovery Hits Roadblock: 2013 sees decline in Canadian and Global deal volume and value

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

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

Deal or No Deal?

The importance of knowing when you have an agreement

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

When negotiating a deal, it is critical for parties to be aware of when they have reached an agreement.

Recently, in Proton Energy Group SA v. Public Company Orlen Lietuva, [2013] 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

What’s so “Special” about a “Special Committee”?

The importance of context when evaluating the need to establish a special committee

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

In a recent bench ruling in Re Plains Exploration, the Delaware Court held that a special committee was not required to take the lead in merger negotiations in circumstances where almost all of the members of the board were independent and free from conflict in connection with the transaction.

In Re Plains Exploration, the Delaware Court denied the plaintiff shareholders’ request to enjoin a merger between Plains Exploration & Production Company and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold even though the Plains’ board (a) did not shop Plains before agreeing to merge with Freeport, (b) did not conduct a “pre” and … Continue Reading

Immigration Issues in M&A Transactions

Considerations for foreign-based companies sending employees to Canada.

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

Given the complexities of a typical business acquisition, it is frequently the case that immigration issues slip well down the priority list for such a transaction.  From dealing with entry into Canada for the purpose of conducting due diligence, to deciding whose responsibility it is to employ foreign workers post transaction, immigration issues should be on any foreign acquiror’s checklist.

In a situation where a foreign-based company is purchasing a Canadian company and needs to have its personnel enter Canada to conduct due diligence, in many instances representatives of the purchaser can enter as business visitors, as long as they … Continue Reading

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Making realistic projections during an auction process

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

The recent Delaware ruling in In Ancestry.com Inc. Shareholder Litigation provides a cautionary tale relating to a target company developing aggressive projections during an auction process.

The Relevant Facts

Following the announcement of a going-private transaction, some shareholders of Ancestry.com filed suit in the Delaware Court of Chancery alleging, among other things, that the board preferred the interests of the winning bidder over shareholders. Previously:

  1. Ancestry hired Qatalyst Partners LLP as its financial advisor and initiated an auction process.
  2. Ancestry’s management prepared “bullish” projections for the auction process. Notably, Ancestry does not develop long-term projections in the usual course of
  3. Continue Reading

Challenges for State-Owned Enterprises Arising From Proposed Amendments to the Investment Canada Act

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

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

Ignorance is not bliss: beware minimal due diligence

Lessons from the Quebec Court of Appeal

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

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 Francoeur share purchase agreement (the “SPA”), which was signed by parties the court characterized as “fierce competitors”, contained the following key provisions.

  1. 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)
  2. Continue Reading

Doing Business in Canada – 2013 Edition

Buying a Canadian Business, eh? A look back.

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy


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.


Following the launch of that series our team blogged about important topics like:

Good Faith in the Shadow of Contractual Rights

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

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

Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Uncovering the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

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

New 2013 Competition Act Merger Notification Threshold

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A

The Competition Bureau (Bureau) has announced that the pre-merger notification transaction-size threshold for 2013 will increase to $80 million from the 2012 threshold of $77 million. As per the indexing mechanism set out in the Competition Act (Act), the pre-merger notification threshold is reviewed annually. The 2013 threshold is anticipated to come into effect on January 12, 2013.

The threshold is based on the book value of assets in Canada of the target (or in the case of an asset purchase, of the assets in Canada being acquired), or the gross revenues from sales “in or from” Canada generated by … Continue Reading

New 2013 Investment Canada Act Review Threshold

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A

Industry Canada has announced that the Investment Canada Act (Act) threshold for 2013 that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadian investors from World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries is $344 million (an increase from last year’s $330 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