Author: garraux

Sound the Alarm? Not so Fast as Chancery Court Dismisses Derivative Suit Alleging Self-Interested “Pump-And-Dump” Scheme Arising Out of Alarm Company’s Repurchase of $450 Million in Stock from Hedge Fund Investor

By Lauren Garraux and Phillip Kardis

In his April 28, 2015 Memorandum Opinion, Vice Chancellor Parsons dismissed a derivative suit brought by ADT Corp. stockholder Walter E. Ryan, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) against the Company’s board of directors, Corvex Management LP (“Corvex”), a hedge fund investor, and Corvex’s principal arising out of the Company’s repurchase of $450 million in stock held by Corvex, a move that led to a drop in the Company’s stock price.  Citing Chancery Court Rule 23.1, Vice Chancellor Parsons dismissed the suit because Plaintiff had neither made a pre-suit demand on the Company’s board nor met his burden of proving that demand should be excused as futile under Aronson.

Plaintiff commenced this derivative action on August 1, 2014 and filed an amended complaint on October 3, 2014, asserting claims of breach of fiduciary duties of care and loyalty against ADT’s board of directors, aiding and abetting those breaches against Corvex and unjust enrichment against Corvex and Corvex principal Keith Meister (“Meister”) who, during the time period relevant to the complaint, held a seat on ADT’s board and audit committee.  Plaintiff’s claims arose out of what Plaintiff characterized as a self-interested “pump-and-dump” scheme pursuant to which Meister managed to “pump up” the price of ADT’s stock and then convinced his fellow board members to repurchase most of Corvex’s ADT stock in November 2013 at $44.01 per share for an approximate total of $450 million, the alleged “dump.”  Following the repurchase, ADT was left in a “far-worse-than forecasted financial condition,” with “diminished future prospects” and a slipping stock price that ultimately settled around $28 per share in the first few days of February 2014.

Read More

Smollar v. Potarazu, C.A. No. 10287-VCN (November 19, 2014) (Noble, V.C.)

By Lauren Garraux and Lisa Stark

In Smollar v. Potarazu, the Court of Chancery denied a stockholder’s request to expedite proceedings and to appoint a temporary receiver in connection with a challenge to an alleged impeding sale of VitalSpring Technologies, Inc. (“VitalSpring”) to an unidentified third-party.  Plaintiff Marvin Smollar, a VitalSpring stockholder, filed the complaint against defendant Sreedhar V. Potarazu (“Defendant”), VitalSpring’s chief executive officer and sole director, following Defendant’s announcement that VitalSpring would be sold pending approval by the Federal Trade Commission.  According to Defendant, the sale — which was projected to be completed around October 19, 2014 — was ultimately delayed pending further FTC guidance.

In his complaint, Plaintiff sought to enjoin the sale until VitalSpring released audited financial statements pursuant to an agreement with its stockholders and held an annual meeting of stockholders.  VitalSpring apparently had not held an annual meeting of stockholders for several years contrary to Delaware law.  According to Plaintiff, Defendant’s failure to hold annual meetings, to release audited financials and general lack of corporate transparency called into question the veracity of Defendant’s claims that a buyer for VitalSpring existed.

Read More

Copyright © 2019, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.