In a recent policy statement, the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (“CCGG”) endorsed the use of “universal proxies” whenever there is a contested director election at a Canadian public company. A “universal proxy” is a proxy voting form which lists all nominees for election regardless of who nominated them (whether management or dissident shareholder). Although there is nothing under corporate or securities laws which prohibits a company or a dissident from using a universal proxy, it is common practice for Canadian issuers and dissident shareholders to solicit votes with the use of proxies which only list their … Continue Reading
In a previous blog entry, we offered a brief review of cybersecurity issues that can arise in the course of M&A transactions and discussed the importance of cybersecurity due diligence by the buyer. This entry will focus on contractual provisions that the buyer can request in the definitive transaction agreement to hedge against any cybersecurity risks it assumes. In particular, this blog post will focus on purchase price adjustments, representations and warranties, and indemnities.… Continue Reading
In our two recent articles, available here and here, we outlined how social media can influence proxy contests and identified some potential legal challenges with this development. This update focuses on the recent use of social media in the high-profile (failed) hostile bid for Syngenta AG (“Syngenta”) by Monsanto Company (“Monsanto”).
In May 2015, Monsanto made a $45 billion bid (its third bid in four years) for Syngenta. Syngenta’s board almost immediately rejected the offer on the grounds of anti-trust concerns and lack of protection for shareholders should the deal fall apart. The rejection … Continue Reading
In a previous blog entry, we canvassed Canadian privacy legislation and offered businesses a cursory review of the issues that arise in the due diligence phase of a business transaction. Expanding on that, this entry is the first in a series of three blog entries concerning specific cybersecurity considerations in the M&A context. This entry will focus on cybersecurity due diligence considerations, while the entries that follow will respectively discuss cybersecurity considerations in definitive transaction agreements and cybersecurity insurance.… Continue Reading
The recent attention surrounding cyber security is a reminder of how a company’s records are no longer stored in boxes filled with paper files. Although the (not so) new age of electronic data storage has resulted in new ways of doing business that were never before possible, it has also resulted in a host of complexities when considering how, and in some cases what, electronic records will be handed over to the buyer of a business in an M&A transaction. These complexities are compounded when a buyer is only purchasing a portion of a business, the rest of which will … Continue Reading
Earn-out provisions are intended to provide a “win-win” scenario for buyers and sellers to maximize their post-closing returns. However, they can also lead to post-closing controversy and litigation. For instance, what happens when the buyer’s actions divert, defer or entirely prevent an earn-out payment from being triggered? The Delaware Supreme Court’s recent decision in Lazard Technology Partners, LLC v. Qinetiq North America Operations, LLC provides a cautionary tale relating to the drafting of earn-out provisions in M&A transactions.
In the context of M&A transactions, the use of “clean rooms” (i.e., data rooms containing commercially sensitive information concerning a target only available to clean teams) and “clean teams” (i.e., isolated work groups often made up of third party experts having access to clean rooms) to isolate commercially sensitive information concerning a target from the prospective bidder(s) can sometimes help clear the path to a negotiated deal.… Continue Reading
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
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
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. 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., 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
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. Despite such staggering statistics, social media has not been leveraged to its full potential in Canadian proxy contests. According to a 2013 survey, 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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. 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
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
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