Delaware Supreme Court Affirms Financial Advisor Liability for Aiding and Abetting
By Whitney Smith and Elise Gabriel
The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed RBC Capital Markets, LLC’s (“RBC”) liability for aiding and abetting a board’s fiduciary breaches based on RBC’s undisclosed conflicts of interest and its deliberately misleading the board during the company’s sales process. The Court also upheld the Chancery Court’s finding that RBC bore 83% responsibility for the shareholders’ damages, resulting in a $75 million award against RBC, plus pre- and post-judgment interest.
In RBC Capital Markets, LLC, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Chancery Court’s holding that RBC was liable for aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty by the board of Rural/Metro Corporation (“Rural”) in connection with the sale of Rural to private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC (“Warburg”). The Rural board’s underlying breaches of fiduciary duties were its failure to be actively and reasonably informed when overseeing the sales process and to be adequately informed about Rural’s value, and also its breach of the duty of disclosure for including RBC’s flawed valuation analysis as well as false and misleading information about RBC’s conflicts of interest in the company’s proxy statement. RBC, in turn, knowingly induced the breaches by exploiting its own conflicted interests to the detriment of Rural and by creating an “information vacuum” for the Rural board in order to push the sale forward.