On July 2, 2013, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC) announced two new initiatives aimed at preventing and detecting improper or fraudulent financial reporting.  We previously noted that one of these initiatives, a computer-based tool called the Accounting Quality Model (AQM, or “Robocop”),  is designed to enable real-time analytical review of financial reports filed with the SEC in order to help identify questionable accounting practices.
Posts Tagged ‘Paul Ferrillo’
No less than two years ago, had one tried to initiate a conversation with a Private Equity Sponsor or an M&A lawyer regarding M&A “reps and warranties” insurance (i.e., insurance designed to expressly provide insurance coverage for the breach of a representation or a warranty contained in a Purchase and Sale Agreement, in addition to or as a replacement for a contractual indemnity), one might have gotten a shrug of the shoulders or a polite response to the effect of “let’s try to negotiate around the problem instead.” Perhaps because it was misunderstood or perhaps because it had not yet hit its stride in terms of breadth of coverage, reps and warranties insurance was hardly ever used to close deals. Like Harry Potter, it was the poor stepchild often left in the closet.
Today that is no longer the case. One global insurance broker with whom we work notes that over $4 billion in reps and warranties insurance worldwide was bound last year, of which $1.4 billion thereof was bound in the US and $2.1 billion thereof was bound in the EU. Such broker’s US-based reps and warranties writings nearly doubled from 2011 and 2012. Reps and warranties insurance has become an important tool to close deals that might not otherwise get done. This post is meant to highlight how reps and warranties insurance may be of use to you in winning bids and finding means of closing deals in today’s challenging environment.
About a year ago, we published A New Playbook for Global Securities Litigation and Regulation, in which we detailed dramatic changes in the global securities regulatory and litigation arena driven by various factors, including not only the financial crisis of 2007-2008, but also changes in tolerance in the United States to litigation brought by foreign investors against public companies listed on non-U.S. exchanges.
One year later, the regulatory environment continues to revamp with new rules being issued constantly in the United States to conform to the legislative mandates set forth in the Dodd Frank Act. The United Kingdom and European Union also seek to reinforce previous global initiatives to reform and strengthen the Pan-European financial markets.
What is more ever-present, however, is the marked increase in global enforcement activities by regulators in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union, which are attempts to give teeth to the global financial reforms each jurisdiction felt necessary to potentially prevent a “repeat” of the financial crisis. This article seeks to address the increase in global securities enforcement activity and concludes that continued cooperation and coordination in enforcement activities will be required to seamlessly address the desire to strengthen global regulatory initiatives aimed at harmonizing and centralizing international securities regulation to create safer, more fundamentally sound financial markets for investors.
In 2002, Arthur Andersen LLP collapsed in the wake of an obstruction of justice conviction. Since then, conventional wisdom has been that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) resists filing criminal charges against large business entities because of fears of another similar failure. Indeed, the DOJ has consistently acknowledged that it considers such risks, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual expressly identifies “collateral consequences” as a factor that should be weighed in making charging decisions. In the wake of the Great Recession, however, the DOJ has been faced with competing pressures, especially with respect to financial institutions. On the one hand, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, among other bank failures and near-failures, suggested vulnerability on the part of some financial institutions and illustrated the potentially grave consequences that the collapse of a financial institution can have on the broader economy. The DOJ clearly does not want to cause a financial institution to fail. On the other hand, there is a pervasive public sentiment that large financial institutions were responsible for the economic collapse from which the country is only now emerging. Particularly in recent months, the DOJ has been criticized for its decision not to bring criminal charges against any major financial entity.
On November 5, 2012, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds (No. 11-1085) (“Amgen”). In Amgen, Plaintiff/Respondent Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds (“Connecticut Retirement”) brought a putative class action under the Exchange Act of 1934, alleging that Defendant/Petitioner Amgen and several of its directors and officers misstated and failed to disclose safety information concerning two of its drugs. Amgen contends that it did not mislead investors and that the information it allegedly concealed was widely known.
Background of Amgen and Path to the Supreme Court
The issue in Amgen is the predominance requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 23(b)(3), which states that a court may not certify a class for trial without determining that “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.” Because of the near-impossibility of establishing commonality of direct reliance on alleged misstatements in securities fraud litigations, plaintiffs typically rely on a rebuttable presumption of common indirect reliance on the integrity of the market price for the securities at issue. The Supreme Court first recognized this presumption in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224, 241-47 (1988), relying in part on the “fraud-on-the-market” (“FOTM”) theory. The FOTM theory assumes that the market price of securities traded in an efficient market reflects all publicly-available material information, including any material misrepresentations.
In November 2012, the United States Supreme Court will again hear an appeal of a federal securities class action in Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds (No. 11-1085) (“Amgen”). In the past two years, the Supreme Court has heard no less than five appeals arising from securities class actions.
Amgen requires the Court to reconsider its own landmark decision in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988), adopting a rebuttable classwide presumption of reliance based on the “fraud-on-the-market” (“FOTM”) theory. The FOTM theory assumes that the market price of securities traded in an efficient market reflects all publicly-available information, including any material misrepresentations. Twenty-five years later, the parties in Amgen ask the Court to resolve whether, in such a case, a district court must (1) “require proof of materiality” concerning the challenged statements and/or (2) “allow the defendant to present evidence rebutting the applicability of the fraud-on-the-market theory” before certifying a class under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3). To fully understand the import of these questions, some background on the relevant concepts is helpful.
Years from now, when historians write the history of the Roberts Court, perhaps they will be able to explain why, in the second half of the first dozen years of the 21st Century, the Supreme Court suddenly became so interested in taking up cases under the federal securities laws. Indeed, a review of recent private 10b-5 jurisprudence reveals that the last two years have generated more United States Supreme Court precedent than the previous eighteen.  These cases could have profound implications for how public and private companies around the globe meet their reporting obligations, defend against class actions, and/or maintain their credibility in the eyes of regulators, judges, and investors. We discuss this plethora of recent Supreme Court cases below, concluding with a discussion of Amgen, Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in November 2012.
Key developments in both the litigation and regulatory context are compelling multinational corporations to reassess their global securities litigation and regulatory compliance strategies. In the litigation context, recent U.S. Supreme Court activity has limited the ability of overseas plaintiffs to bring securities class action claims within the United States. As such, plaintiffs have shifted litigation to more flexible jurisdictions in Europe and overseas, thereby forcing global firms listed on multiple exchanges to increasingly defend against securities class action claims and regulatory investigations in numerous jurisdictions. At the same time, governments around the world have responded to the recent financial crisis by bolstering their regulatory capability. Governments have not only adopted more robust legislative regimes with respect to securities regulation, but they have also invested heavily in stronger enforcement protocols.