Topic: Appraisal

Chancery Court Rules that LLC Unit Buyout Provision Operated As a Call Option

By Scott Waxman and Priya Chadha

In Kieran Walsh et al. v. White House Post Productions, LLC, et al., C.A. No. 2019-0419-KSJM (March 25, 2020), Plaintiffs Kieran Walsh and Francis Devlin brought claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and specific performance following a dispute with Defendant Carbon Visual Effects, LLC (the “Company”) regarding a buyout provision in the Company’s LLC Agreement.  On a motion to dismiss, Vice Chancellor McCormick held that the buyout provision operated as a call option, requiring Defendants to purchase Plaintiffs’ LLC units once it exercised its option by noticing its intent to purchase them.

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IN A SECTION 262 APPRAISAL RIGHTS PROCEEDING, CHANCERY COURT ACCEPTS A MODIFIED VERSION OF PETITIONERS’ VALUATION OF A MERGING COMPANY’S STOCK

By: Christopher Bellavia and Adam Heyd

In Manichaean Capital, LLC, et al. v. SourceHOV Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 2017-0673-JRS (Del. Ch. January 30, 2019), certain minority stockholders of a merging company filed a petition with the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) to exercise their appraisal rights under Section 262 of the Delaware General Corporate Law (“Section 262”). After reviewing competing valuations prepared by experts of the Company and the minority stockholders respectively, the Court adopted a modified version of the minority stockholders’ expert valuation. In doing so, the Court reiterated its significant discretion to discharge its independent obligation to determine fair market value and instead select one of the parties’ valuation models as a guide.

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Court of Chancery Finds Deal Price Exceeded Fair Value, but Company Nonetheless Not Entitled to Refund for Prepayment of Deal Price to Dissenting Stockholders

By: Eric Freedman and Serena Hamann

In a memorandum opinion in the case of In re Appraisal of Panera Bread Company, C.A. No. 2017-0593-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled that deal price, minus the value of synergies, was the correct metric to value the stock of Panera Bread Company (“Panera”), because the process that yielded the deal price bore sufficient objective indicia of reliability. The Court found that under this metric, the dissenting stockholders received more than fair value for each share of Panera stock but that nonetheless, because Panera prepaid the entire deal price to dissenting stockholders without deducting any value for synergies, and did not negotiate a clawback, Panera had no right to a refund under the appraisal statute, Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) § 262.

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Delaware Court of Chancery Holds Deal Price Generated Through Reliable Sales Process Was Fair Value

By: Shoshannah D. Katz and Serena M. Hamann

In the statutory appraisal proceeding, In re Appraisal of Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc., Cons. C.A. No. 12736-VCL (Del. Ch. August 12, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery determined that the fair value of Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. (“Columbia” or the “Company”) common stock at the effective date of acquisition by TransCanada Corporation (“TransCanada”) was the deal price of $25.50 per share, not the $32.47 per share price proposed by the petitioners. The petitioners argued that the Court should determine fair value using the discounted cash flow method (“DCF”), while TransCanada proposed use of the deal price minus synergies and Columbia’s unaffected trading price as valuation indicators. The Court ruled the sale process in this case was sufficiently reliable to make the deal price a persuasive indicator of fair value.

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waiver of appraisal rights in a stockholder agreement is enforceable under delaware law

By Annette Becker and Pouya Ahmadi

In Manti Holdings, LLC v. Authentix Acquisition Co., Inc., C.A. No. 2017-0887 SG (Del. Ch. Aug 14, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) held that Contractual agreements limiting or waiving future appraisal rights are not prohibited as a matter of law under the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”).

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Delaware Supreme Court calculates Aruba’s fair value in an appraisal using deal price minus synergies, reversing lower court’s 30-day stock price calculation

By: Jessica Pearlman, Marina Mehrtens and Joseph Phelps

In Verition Partners Master Fund Ltd. and Verition Multi-Strategy Master Fund Ltd. v. Aruba Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 11448-VCL (Del. Ch. Apr. 16, 2019), the Delaware Supreme Court unanimously held that the Court of Chancery abused its discretion when it calculated the fair value per share of the common stock of Aruba Networks, Inc. (“Aruba”) in an appraisal proceeding. The Court of Chancery assessed Aruba’s per share value at $17.13 by using the 30-day average market price at which Aruba’s shares publicly traded before Aruba’s merger negotiation with Hewlett Packard Company (“HP”) became public. The Delaware Supreme Court found this improper and affirmed its practice of viewing merger consideration as evidence of fair value, calculating Aruba’s fair value per share as $19.10 (the deal price minus the portion of synergies left with the seller).

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DELAWARE COURT OF CHANCERY USES COMPANY’S UNAFFECTED MARKET PRICE TO DETERMINE FAIR VALUE IN APPRAISAL ACTION

By Josh Gaul and Frank Mazzucco

In In Re: Appraisal of Jarden Corporation, C.A. No. 12456-VCS (Del. Ch. Jul. 19, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) determined in a statutory appraisal action that, in connection with a merger, the fair value of Jarden Corporation was best represented by the unaffected market price of the company’s shares.

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Court to Sellers: Stockholder Notice Rights Matter

By Scott Waxman and Nadia Brooks

In Mehta v. Mobile Posse, Inc., six causes of action were before the Delaware Court of Chancery in Plaintiff’s complaint alleging inadequate stockholder notice and breach of directors’ fiduciary duty of disclosure regarding the merger of Mobile Posse. The defendants, Mobile Posse and its board, asserted motions for judgments on the pleadings for all counts, arguing they were entitled to the judgments because the violations were remedied by the supplemental notice they issued. The Court denied all but one of defendants’ motions, finding numerous deficiencies in the notice process and finding that the merger was not entirely fair.

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Fiduciary Duty Claim Against Selling Company CEO Survives Motion to Dismiss with Aiding and Abetting Claim Missing the Mark

By: Annette Becker and Michael Payant

In In re Xura, Inc. Stockholder Litigation (C.A. No. 12698-VCS), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) denied a motion to dismiss brought by defendants Phillippe Tartavull (“Tartavull”) and Siris Capital Group (“Siris”, and collectively with Tartavull, the “Defendants”) in a case filed by Obsidian Management LLC (“Obsidian” or “Plaintiff”) for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the sale of Xura, Inc. (“Xura”) to a Siris affiliate. The Court held that Plaintiff pled a viable breach of fiduciary duty claim against Tartavull as CEO of Xura. The Court granted a motion to dismiss as to an aiding and abetting claim brought against Siris holding that Plaintiff failed to plead a viable claim.

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Know Thyself: Self-Awareness in Corporate Valuations

By: Annette Becker and Kristen Berry

In Kendall Hoyd and Silver Spur Capital Partners, LP v. Trussway Holdings, LLC (C.A. No. 2017-0260-SG), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court“) addressed the perennial challenges related to corporate valuations. The central question involved the determination of a corporation’s proper price-per-share in the context of an appraisal action arising from the conversion of a corporation into an LLC by merger. The Court rejected the use of “comparable companies” and “precedent transaction” analyses, defaulting to the use of discounted cash flow (DCF) analyses in the formulation of its corporate valuation.

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Chancery Court Cites Flawed Process in its Resort to Traditional Valuation Methodology and Reliance on All Relevant Factors in a Recent Appraisal Action

By Jill B. Louis and Rashida Stevens

The Delaware Court of Chancery determined that a flawed deal process kept the merger price from being a reliable indication of value in the Blueblade Capital Opportunities LLC and Blueblade Capital Opportunities CI LLC (collectively, “Blueblade”) v. Norcraft Companies, Inc. (“Norcraft”) (C.A. No. 11184-VCS (Del. Ch. July 27, 2018)), appraisal action.

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CHANCERY COURT SETS FAIR VALUE IN APPRAISAL ACTION AT DEAL PRICE LESS SYNERGIES

By: Annette Becker and Caitlin Velasco

In In re Appraisal of Solera Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 12080-CB (Del. Ch. July 30, 2018), the Delaware Court of Chancery, applying an adjusted deal price analysis in a statutory appraisal proceeding, determined that the fair value of the stock of Solera Holdings, Inc. (“Solera” or the “Company”) at the time of its March 2016 going-private merger transaction was $53.95 per share–the deal price less estimated synergies. The Court reached this conclusion after thoroughly examining and ultimately rejecting the use of (a) the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) analysis, proposed by seven investment funds that were former stockholders of Solera (the “Petitioners”) and the (b) the unaffected market price analysis, proposed by Solera in supplemental briefing in response to the use of such analysis in Verition Partners Master Fund Ltd. v. Aruba Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 11448-VCL (Del. Ch. May 21, 2018). Read More

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