In Pogue v. Hybrid Energy, Inc., C.A. No. 11563-VCG (Aug. 5, 2016), the Court of Chancery held that inclusion of a party (in this case the plaintiff) in a stock record provides a prima facie but rebuttable case that such party is a stockholder of record for purposes of seeking books and records under DGCL Section 220. In Pogue, the Court held that the defendant had successfully rebutted the presumption that plaintiff was a stockholder by clear and convincing evidence and therefore the Court denied the plaintiff the relief sought and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgement.
In determining the fair value of stock of a privately held corporation at the time of a cash-out merger in connection with an appraisal action by minority stockholders—where one of the minority stockholders’ experts proffered a fair value greater than eight times that provided by the company’s expert—the Delaware Court of Chancery found that the valuation method used by the company’s expert was unreliable. The Court held that in this case the discounted cash flow analysis is the most reliable indicator of fair value because (1) the company’s stock is not publicly traded, (2) historical sales of stock are not reliable indicators of fair value, and (3) no comparable company valuation exists.
In In Re Riverstone National, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, C.A. No. 9796-VCG (July 28, 2016), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a board’s approval of a merger agreement containing a release of claims against the directors and entered into while a potential derivative suit for usurpation of corporate opportunity was threatened against such directors warranted entire fairness review.
On July 8, 2016, Chancellor Bouchard issued a memorandum opinion in In re Appraisal of DFC Global Corp., C.A. No. 10107-CB (Del. Ch. July 8, 2016), finding that shares held by former stockholders of DFC Global Corporation (“DFC”) sold to Lone Star Fund VIII (U.S.), L.P. (“Lone Star”), a private equity buyer, for $9.50 per share were undervalued. Chancellor Bouchard determined this through an examination of multiple valuation methods — comparable company and transaction analyses, discounted cash flow analyses, and the transaction price — and ultimately concluded that an equal blend of the three was the most reliable determinate of the shares’ fair value. In doing so, Chancellor Bouchard calculated that the fair market value of the DFC shares was $10.21 per share.
In a mixed ruling, the Chancery Court denied, in part, baseball legend Derek Jeter’s motion to dismiss claims that he breached his fiduciary duty as a director of undergarment manufacturer RevolutionWear, that he violated the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and that he fraudulently induced a contract with RevolutionWear and fraudulently concealed restrictions in his endorsement contract with Nike that precluded Jeter from fulfilling his promise to allow RevolutionWear to announce his role as a founder, substantial owner, and director.
In Narayanan v. Sutherland Global Holdings C.A. No. 11757-VCMR (Del. Ch. July 5, 2016), Vice Chancellor Montgomery-Reeves of the Delaware Chancery Court held, in a post-trial opinion, that the bylaws of Sutherland Global Holdings, Inc. (“Sutherland”) and an indemnification agreement between Sutherland and Plaintiff Muthu Narayanan (“Plaintiff”) are disjunctive and must be read separately, allowing Plaintiff to prevail on his claim for advancement of legal fees and expenses.
In Pell v. Kill, et al, C.A. No. 12251-VCL (Del. Ch. May, 19, 2016), Vice Chancellor Laster preliminarily enjoined incumbent members of a board of directors from implementing a plan to reduce the number of board seats prior to a directors’ election at an annual meeting after a proxy challenge had been made.
In Brinckerhoff v. Enbridge Energy Co., Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11314-VCS (April 29, 2016), the Delaware Court of Chancery reiterated its adherence to the principle stated in the Delaware Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act (“DRULPA”) of giving “maximum effect to the principle of freedom of contract and to the enforceability of partnership agreements” as well as to the ability under DRULPA of parties to a limited partnership agreement to define their respective standards of care and scope of duties and liabilities, including to eliminate default fiduciary duties, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.
In Obeid v. Hogan, No. CV 11900-VCL (Del. Ch. June 10, 2016), the Delaware Court of Chancery prevented a former federal judge from serving as the sole member of parallel special litigation committees formed to assess derivative actions because he was not a director or manager of the respective limited liability companies (“LLCs”). In reaching this decision, the court followed corporate precedent in interpreting an LLC agreement because of the LLC’s “corporate-style governance structure.” The court concluded an LLC board of directors could therefore delegate authority to a committee to take control of a derivative action, under certain circumstances, but that authority could not be delegated to a non-director/non-member in this instance.
In In re Chelsea Therapeutics International Ltd. Stockholders Litigation, Consol. C.A. No. 9640-VCG (Del. Ch. May 20, 2016), the Delaware Chancery Court held that Plaintiffs, who alleged bad faith on the part of corporate directors based on a failure to adequately take into account speculative financial projections in evaluating the adequateness of an acquisition offer, had failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted.
In In Re Appraisal of Dell, C.A. No. 9322-VCL, (Del. Ch. May 31, 2016), stockholders of Dell Inc. (“Dell”) sought appraisal of their shares in connection with Dell’s 2013 “go-private” merger. Vice Chancellor Laster of the Delaware Court of Chancery held that the fair value of the Dell’s common stock at the effective time of the merger was $17.62, approximately a 28% premium over the final merger consideration of $13.75 per share. In making its determination, the court rejected Dell’s contention that the negotiated merger consideration was the best evidence of Dell’s fair value and held that the Dell was sold for too little and that the concept of fair value under Delaware law is not equivalent to the economic concept of fair market value.
In In re Appraisal of Dell Inc., C.A. No. 9322-VCL, (Del. Ch. May 11, 2016), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that the shares held by fourteen mutual funds through a sponsor or institutions that relied on such parties to direct the voting of their shares (collectively, the “Petitioners”) did not qualify for appraisal in connection with Dell Inc.’s go-private merger because the dissenter requirement under the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) was not met as the shares were voted in favor of the merger.