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Category Archives: Public M&A

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“Golden Leash” arrangements secure ISS’s cautious nod

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

After taking a break last proxy season, “golden leash” arrangements are back in the spotlight. A few days ago, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) gave “cautious support” to so-called “golden leash” arrangements between Third Point LLC and its two nominees to the board of Dow Chemical Co.… Continue Reading

Four Due Diligence Issues in Insurance M&A Transactions

Posted in Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

Insurance M&A activity, in both the Canadian market and globally, has been on the rise since the 2008 financial crisis, and is expected to continue to increase. Deloitte recently reported that there were 399 insurance M&A transactions in Canada and the United States during 2014, an increase of 27% over 2013. The consulting firm Optis Partners reported that the first half of 2014 was the most active M&A period since they started tracking transaction information in 2008. In a survey published in 2014 by the professional services firm Towers Watson, over 85% of North American insurance executives said that they … Continue Reading

Harnessing Social Media in Proxy Contests: Opportunities and Legal Challenges

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

Social media has very seldom been leveraged in Canadian proxy contests. One reason for this may be the lack of knowledge about its full potential.[1] To address this reason, our first post in this series reviewed social media’s impact on public discourse and proxy contests in the U.S. and Canada.

Another reason for the limited use of social media in Canadian proxy contests is the lack of specific regulatory guidelines. Unlike in the U.S.,[2] in Canada there is no regulatory guidance on the use of social media to communicate with shareholders. This article reviews some legal considerations applicable … Continue Reading

Harnessing Social Media in Proxy Contests: Not Just “Social”

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

Social media has revolutionized how stakeholders receive information about companies. An estimated 1.79 billion people used social media in 2014; 2.44 billion will by 2018.[1] Despite such staggering statistics, social media has not been leveraged to its full potential in Canadian proxy contests. According to a 2013 survey,[2] a majority of directors on the boards of Canada’s largest companies acknowledged that they did not know much about social media.

This is the first of two posts about harnessing social media in Canadian proxy contests. It reviews the use of social media to influence public discourse and proxy contests … Continue Reading

CSA Releases Amendments to the Take-Over Bid Regime

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

On March 31, 2015, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published a CSA Notice and Request for Comment with respect to proposed amendments to Multilateral Instrument 62-104 – Take-Over Bids and Issuer Bids (MI 62-104) and changes to National Policy 62-203 – Take-Over Bids and Issuer Bids.

The proposed amendments codify and in some cases clarify the concepts previously announced by the CSA in September 2014 and result in some significant changes to the take-over bid regime. Please see our detailed report Amendments to Take-Over Bid Rules Will Deliver More Support to Boards for an in-depth review of some of the … Continue Reading

Good Faith, Honest Performance and M&A: Top 5 Takeaways Stemming from Bhasin v. Hrynew

Exploring the impact on Canadian mergers and acquisitions of the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent recognition of a new common law duty of honest performance

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

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

New 2015 Competition Act Merger Notification Threshold

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

The Competition Bureau has announced that the pre-merger notification transaction-size threshold for 2015 will increase to $86 million from the 2014 threshold of $82 million.  The 2015 threshold will come into effect immediately following publication in the Canada Gazette Part 1 (anticipated to occur on February 7, 2015).  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 … Continue Reading

5 Corporate Governance Tips to Reduce Risk in the M&A Process

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

Because of the growing risk of litigation by unhappy (or simply opportunistic) shareholders following the sale or acquisition of a company, corporate governance practices during the M&A process face increasing scrutiny.

In a recent article titled “Documenting the Deal: How Quality Control and Candor Can Improve Boardroom Decision-making And Reduce The Litigation Target Zone”, forthcoming in The Business Lawyer, Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, sets forth some best practices for directors and legal and financial advisors “to conduct an M&A process in a manner that: i) promotes making better decisions; ii) reduces conflicts of … Continue Reading

New 2015 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 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

The 2015 Proxy Season: Glass Lewis and ISS Canadian Proxy Voting Guidelines Updates

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

With the 2015 Proxy Season close at hand, Glass, Lewis & Co., LLC (Glass Lewis) and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) recently released their updated Canadian proxy voting guidelines. Changes and clarifications have been made to their guidelines in such areas as advance notice policies and by-laws, shareholder rights plans and majority voting.… Continue Reading

Mini-Tenders 301: Will Such Offers Be Used in Proxy Contests?

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

This is the final article in our mini-tender trilogy. We have previously discussed mini-tender offers from the perspectives of the offeror, and the issuer and shareholders. This article considers how mini-tenders might be strategically used in proxy contests.

As shareholder activism rises, the activists’ toolkit keeps evolving. The strategic use of a mini-tender offer in a recent proxy contest suggests that such offers may increasingly be considered as a means of influencing the outcome of proxy contests.… Continue Reading

“Golden Leashes” are back: Will shareholder activists win this round?

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

After taking a break this past proxy season, “golden leash” arrangements are back in the spotlight. A few days ago, Third Point LLC proposed so-called “golden leash” arrangements for their two nominees to the board of Dow Chemical Co.

“Golden leash” arrangements arise when a shareholder activist privately offers to compensate its nominee directors in connection with such nominees’ service as a director of the target corporation. Arrangements vary but include compensating activist directors who are elected based on achieving benchmarks, such as an increase in share price over a fixed term. Shareholder activists only provide such incentives to elected … Continue Reading

Mini-Tenders 201: Responding to Mini-Tender Offers

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

In our previous article, we introduced mini-tenders and discussed the factors that should be considered before launching a mini-tender offer. As a refresher, a mini-tender is an offer to purchase securities below the threshold that triggers regulatory rules for take-over bids. Such an offer is not specifically regulated and can be used to acquire small but not insignificant positions in public companies, often at a discount to the prevailing market price.

In this article, we discuss mini-tenders from the perspective of issuers and shareholders.

Continue Reading

Mini-Tenders 101: Factors to Consider Before Launching a Mini-Tender Offer

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Mini-tenders have a bad reputation, which may explain why they are used infrequently. This is the first in a trilogy of articles about mini-tender offers from the perspectives of offerors, issuers and shareholders. It reviews factors that an offeror should consider before launching a mini-tender offer.

A mini-tender is simply an offer to purchase securities below the threshold that triggers regulatory rules for take-over bids. Such an offer is not specifically regulated and can be used to acquire small but not insignificant positions in public companies, often at a discount to the prevailing market price.

Continue Reading

Early Warning Reporting Threshold Remains at 10% While Other Changes to Enhance Transparency Will Be Implemented

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

On October 10, 2014, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) provided an update on the status of proposed amendments to Canada’s early warning reporting (EWR) system first published in March 2013.[1]  After extensive public consultation, the CSA announced that they will proceed with the amendments except for two important proposals: to reduce the reporting threshold from 10% to 5% and to include “equity equivalent derivatives” for the purposes of determining the threshold for EWR disclosure.  The CSA intends to publish final amendments to the EWR system and related guidance in the second quarter of 2015, subject to the receipt of … Continue Reading

CETA Will Create a Two-Tiered System for Investment Canada Act Reviews

Posted in Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

The text of the Canada and European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is due to be released soon, but it remains to be seen if the Canadian government will clarify which countries, in addition to those in the EU, will benefit from the higher $1.5-billion threshold for review under the Investment Canada Act (ICA).

On October 29, 2013, the Canadian government released the Technical Summary of Final Negotiated Outcomes of CETA, in which it indicated that the ICA threshold would be raised to $1.5 billion for EU investors and that investors from Canada’s other free trade agreement … Continue Reading

Proposed Changes to Takeover Bid Regime in Canada Would Put More Time in the Hands of Target Boards

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

On September 11, 2014, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published CSA Notice 62-306 – Update on Proposed National Instrument 62-105 Security Holder Rights Plans (Notice) and the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) Consultation Paper An Alternative Approach to Securities Regulators’ Intervention in Defensive Tactics. The notice indicates that the CSA intend to publish for comment a new harmonized proposal based on amendments to the takeover bid regime which will aim to facilitate the ability of shareholders to make voluntary, informed and coordinated tender decisions and provide target boards with additional time to respond to hostile bids, with the objective … Continue Reading

More on “Golden Leash” Arrangements

Institutional investor organization urges SEC to require disclosure

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

The debate about so-called “golden leash” arrangements has picked up again. The Council of Institutional Investors (“CII”), an influential association of institutional investors, recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) expressing its concerns regarding the transparency of compensation paid in “golden leash” arrangements.

As discussed in our previous post, “golden leash” arrangements arise when a shareholder activist privately offers to compensate its nominee directors in connection with such nominees’ service as a director of a target corporation. In January, 2014, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. provided its views on by-laws designed to prohibit “golden leash” … Continue Reading

Augusta/HudBay – A model for target boards to say “not now”?

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

The recent outcome of the Augusta/HudBay poison pill hearing provides some insight into how a shareholder rights plan may withstand scrutiny from a Canadian securities regulator for an extended period of time in the right circumstances. Though perhaps the result of somewhat unique facts, including insufficient initial support for the price being offered by the bidder and an active process being conducted by the target company, the British Columbia Securities Commission’s decision in Augusta/HudBay is also of interest in the context of the ongoing debates sparked by the proposed National Instrument 62-105 on Security Holder Rights Plans.… Continue Reading

Don’t “put” yourself at risk

Beware of the use of put and call options

Posted in Public M&A

Canadian securities legislation provides that a take-over bid may be triggered when an offer to acquire outstanding voting or equity securities of a class of a public company is made to a person in a Canadian jurisdiction, where the securities subject to the offer, together with the offeror’s own securities, constitute in the aggregate 20% or more of the outstanding securities of that class. The take-over bid rules may apply in the context of the grant of put and call options. It is therefore essential to structure the terms of these options to ensure the availability of take-over bid exemptions … 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

By-laws counteracting “Golden Leash” arrangements: ISS speaks

Posted in Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

On January 13, 2014, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) issued FAQs explaining its views on by-laws designed to prohibit so-called “Golden Leash” arrangements. As discussed in our post last month, such arrangements arise when a shareholder activist privately offers to compensate its nominee directors in connection with such nominees’ service as a director of the target corporation.

ISS’ view is that, absent a shareholder vote, a by-law precluding a nominee director from being compensated by a third party “may be considered a material failure of governance”. Consequently, in such circumstances, ISS may “recommend a vote against or withhold from … 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