In In re Sirius XM Shareholder Litigation,  Delaware Chancellor Strine dismissed a complaint that the Sirius board had breached its fiduciary duties by adhering to the provisions of an investment agreement with Liberty Media that precluded the Sirius board from blocking Liberty Media’s acquisition of majority control of Sirius through open-market purchases made by Liberty Media following a three-year standstill period. By holding the complaint to be time-barred under the equitable doctrine of laches the Delaware court did not address the merits of whether the Sirius board breached its fiduciary duties. However, In re Sirius still offers the opportunity to recap the guidance on “creeping takeovers” that can be derived from existing Delaware case law:
Posts Tagged ‘Morrison & Foerster’
The UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (the “Commission”) published its much anticipated report (the “Report”)  on 19 June 2013 entitled “Changing Banking for Good”. The Government provided its response (the “Response”)  to the Report on 8 July 2013, stating that it agrees with the principal recommendations of the Report. It states, however, that there are certain recommendations that require more detailed work to ensure effective implementation, and other recommendations that the Government disagrees with, but intends to achieve the goals of the Commission in other ways. The implementation of the recommendations in the Report will change banking in the UK permanently; the question remains whether they will change banking for the better.
The Commission, chaired by Andrew Tyrie MP, was established in July 2012 following the very public recent controversies affecting banks, including issues arising from the setting of the LIBOR rate, to make recommendations regarding improving the culture, professional standards and governance of banks. The Report contains proposals which fall into five main categories:
Investors who hire political intelligence firms to collect information from government sources should take notice of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, according to panelists at a recent American Bar Association event. The panel, which included Stephen Cohen of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, gathered in the wake of recent scandals and increased government scrutiny of the political intelligence industry—in particular, the SEC’s investigation of Height Securities, a political research and advisory firm. According to The Wall Street Journal, on April 1, 2013, Height Securities alerted investors to a government decision to reverse funding cuts to certain health-care companies before the agency formally announced its decision. In the 18 minutes before the markets closed, investors traded the suddenly promising health-care stocks, making exorbitant profits.
The STOCK Act
Under the STOCK Act, investors who rely on material, non-public information obtained through government channels can be liable under the federal securities laws for insider trading. Irrespective of the Act, insider-trading laws prohibit trading in securities while in possession of material non-public information obtained in breach of a fiduciary duty. The Act explicitly expanded insider-trading restrictions to members of Congress and legislative branch employees, and made clear that a government employee owes a duty to the United States with respect to material non-public information derived from his or her position.
At long last, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took action July 10, 2013 to implement rules that complied with the JOBS Act mandate to relax the prohibition against general solicitation in certain private offerings of securities. The original SEC proposal from August 2012, proposing amendments to Rule 506 of Regulation D and Rule 144A under the Securities Act, had drawn significant comments. The final rule, as well as the SEC’s proposed rules relating to private offerings discussed below, are likely to generate additional commentary. One might say that the July 10, 2013 webcast of the SEC’s open meeting provided a glimpse into the too-hot/too-cold Goldilocks-type debate that will continue to play out over the next few months regarding the appropriate balance between measures that facilitate capital formation and investor protection provisions.
In addition to promulgating rules to relax the ban on general solicitation, which will have a significant market impact, the SEC also adopted the bad actor provisions for Rule 506 offerings that it was required to implement pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act. The bad actor proposal had been released in 2011, and SEC action had been anticipated on the bad actor proposal for some time. The SEC also approved a series of proposals relating to private offerings that are intended to safeguard investors in the new world of general advertising and general solicitation. All told, will these measures encourage or discourage issuers and their financial intermediaries from availing themselves of the opportunity to use general solicitation? Will this new ability to reach investors with whom neither the issuer nor its intermediary have a pre-existing relationship create serious investor protection concerns? Will the proposed investor protection measures be sufficient to address the concerns of consumer and investor advocacy groups, or will we ultimately see revamped investor accreditation standards?
Below we provide a very brief summary of the July 10, 2013 actions.
Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Michael O’Bryan, partner in the Corporate Department at Morrison & Foerster LLP. This post is based on a Morrison & Foerster Client Alert, and is part of the Delaware law series, which is cosponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here.
The Delaware Court of Chancery, in Kalisman v. Friedman (Apr. 17, 2013), ordered the respective counsels for a company and for a special committee of the company’s board of directors to provide to a dissident director copies of their communications with the company’s other directors, as well as internal law firm communications. The dissident director was a member of a large stockholder that had announced an intent to nominate a competing slate of directors at the company’s next annual meeting, and was a member of the special committee as well as of the board. The communications related to actions taken by the board and the special committee that might otherwise be protected from disclosure to third parties by the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine.
The opinion arises from the proxy contest and related litigation over Morgans Hotel Group. The dissident director, Kalisman, is a member of a large stockholder, OTK, and was first appointed to the Morgans board early in 2011. Later that year, the board formed a special committee to evaluate strategic alternatives, and Kalisman was put on the committee. No significant alternative was adopted, however, and early this year OTK announced that it would nominate a competing slate of directors for the Morgans board.
On May 30, 2013, the staff (the “Staff”) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) published Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) regarding certain disclosures required under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”).  The new FAQs provide important guidance to issuers regarding disclosures they may be required to make in connection with products containing conflict minerals and certain payments made by resource extraction issuers.
Title XV of the Dodd-Frank Act, entitled “Miscellaneous Provisions,” contains these “specialized corporate disclosure” provisions, which include:
A recent FINRA disciplinary action sends a strong message to broker-dealers that the development of their compliance systems—particularly with respect to email review and retention—must keep pace with the growth of their businesses.
FINRA fined LPL Financial LLC (LPL) $7.5 million for significant failures in its email system that prevented LPL from accessing hundreds of millions of emails, and from reviewing tens of millions of other emails over an approximately six-year period. FINRA stressed that LPL’s inadequate systems and procedures caused the firm to provide incomplete responses to email requests from regulators, and also likely affected the firm’s production of emails in arbitrations and private actions. Accordingly, FINRA also required the firm to establish a $1.5 million fund to pay discovery sanctions to customer claimants that were potentially affected by the system failures, and to notify regulators that may have received incomplete email production.
In a June 3, 2013 closed-door meeting, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) voted to propose the designation of three financial services companies—American International Group (“AIG”), Prudential Financial and GE Capital—as the first systemically significant nonbank financial institutions (“nonbank SIFIs”) under section 113 of the Dodd-Frank Act.
The FSOC decision, announced by the Treasury Secretary, did not identify specific names, but all three companies publicly confirmed their proposed nonbank SIFI status. If these proposed designations become final, these three companies will become the first nonbank SIFIs to be subjected to stringent Federal Reserve Board oversight and supervision, as well as capital and other regulatory requirements, under Title I of the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, these designations will bring to life the Dodd-Frank Act’s orderly liquidation authority that applies to systemically significant financial firms, in the event that one of these companies may fail or be in danger of failing in the future.
The FSOC’s action to begin the process of designating nonbank SIFIs has been long awaited—some would say long-overdue—and the identities of the three companies that have been proposed for SIFI designation come as no real surprise. Nonetheless, the FSOC’s action marks an important milestone in the implementation of the Dodd- Frank Act’s systemic regulation framework. While the actual significance of these designations likely will emerge more clearly in the coming weeks and months, the FSOC’s action brings into sharper focus the questions and challenges that the designated firms and their regulators will face.
On March 26, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (“Basel Committee”) published a Consultative Document in which it proposes a revised supervisory framework for measuring and controlling large counterparty exposures (“Proposal,” or “Exposure Framework”) of systemically important financial institutions (“SIFIs”). Comments on the Proposal are due by June 28, 2013.
On April 3, the Federal Reserve Board (“Board”) published a final rule (“Rule”) specifying when a financial company that may be made subject to systemic regulation under Title I of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Accountability and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) is “predominantly engaged in financial activities” for purposes of being designated for systemic regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act. The Rule is effective on May 6, 2013.
As discussed below, the net effect of the Rule would be to expand the types of activities that might qualify as financial activities for purposes of applying the “predominantly engaged” test, and thus broaden the population of large nonbank firms that might be designated as systemically important financial firms, under the Dodd-Frank Act. Accordingly, large nonbank financial firms should pay close attention to the Rule’s requirements and its potential impact on them.