Posts Tagged ‘Ethan Klingsberg’

Be Wary of the Path to the Business Judgment Rule

Posted by Victor I. Lewkow, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, on Thursday July 11, 2013 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: Victor Lewkow is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. This post is based on a Cleary Gottlieb memorandum by Mr. Lewkow, Ethan Klingsberg, and Neil Whoriskey, and is part of the Delaware law series, which is co-sponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here.

Chancellor Leo Strine’s opinion in In re MFW Shareholders Litigation (Del Ch. May 29, 2013) marks the culmination of an effort by the Chancellor, going back to his lengthy dicta in In re Cox Communications Shareholders Litigation (Del Ch. 2005), to arrive at a more unified standard for review of buy-outs of a company’s public float by a controlling stockholder. The headline conclusion is that, assuming this decision is not reversed by the Delaware Supreme Court on appeal, controlling stockholder buyouts structured as negotiated mergers may now join controlling stockholder buyouts that take the form of unilateral tender offers in having available a theoretical path that permits challenges to be dismissed on pre-trial motions.

About ten years ago, a series of Chancery Court opinions, the most prominent of which was then-Vice Chancellor Strine’s opinion in In re Pure Resources Shareholders Litigation (Del. Ch. 2002), laid out safeguards that would qualify a unilateral tender offer by a controlling stockholder as non-coercive and entitled to dismissal of challenges based on pleadings prior to a trial or an evidentiary hearing. The most important of these safeguards were the presence of both:

…continue reading: Be Wary of the Path to the Business Judgment Rule

Selected Issues for Boards of Directors in 2013

Posted by Victor I. Lewkow, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, on Monday January 28, 2013 at 9:29 am
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Editor’s Note: Victor Lewkow is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. This post is based on a Cleary Gottlieb memorandum by Mr. Lewkow, Alan Beller, Mitchell Lowenthal, Janet Fisher, Arthur Kohn, David Leinwand, and Ethan Klingsberg.

In the years since the financial reporting scandals and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and in particular following the financial crisis and the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, boards of directors have faced greater burdens and more intense scrutiny of their activities and performance. One manifestation of this has been pressure to change the role of directors from one of partnership with and oversight of management to one of an almost quasi-governmental watchdog directly responsible for monitoring management’s performance, including its compliance with increasingly complex and burdensome regulation. In addition, activist investors continue to publicly push some boards to pursue strategies focused on short-term returns, even in instances where those strategies are inconsistent with the directors’ preferred, sustainable long-term strategies for the corporation.

In recent years, we have advised that directors regularly work with their advisors to monitor and adapt to the continually changing landscape. Among other things, we have suggested more frequent, well-structured engagement with shareholders, a focus on the ability to communicate the corporation’s and board’s policies in a way that is understandable and convincing to the corporation’s constituencies, and that directors prepare to respond to increasing external pressures in a manner that both thoughtfully takes those pressures into account and fully reflects the director’s carefully considered view of the long-term interests of the corporation.

In addition to these general points, we also have seen developing during 2012 a series of additional specific issues, discussed below, on which we believe boards of directors and corporations should focus in 2013.

…continue reading: Selected Issues for Boards of Directors in 2013

Action by Written Consent: A New Focus for Shareholder Activism

Posted by Scott Hirst, co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday July 5, 2010 at 10:25 am
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Editor’s Note: This post comes to us from Ethan Klingsberg, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP focusing on mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buy-outs and corporate and SEC matters, and is based on a Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton client memorandum by Mr. Klingsberg, Laurent Alpert, Janet Fisher, Victor Lewkow and Lillian Raben.

Shareholder proposals advocating that corporations provide shareholders with the right to act by written consent in lieu of a meeting reappeared on ballots this proxy season after a hiatus of several years and have won average shareholder support of over 54%. While these proposals are nonbinding and the number of companies with such proposals on the ballot in 2010 is relatively small – a total of 16 companies, according to RiskMetrics – the level of shareholder support is striking and will likely encourage proponents to advance proposals at more companies next year.

…continue reading: Action by Written Consent: A New Focus for Shareholder Activism

 
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