In re Plains Exploration: A Revlon Review & the Kitchen Sink
John Grossbauer of Potter Anderson notes: In In re Plains Exploration & Production Co. Shareholder Litigation, Delaware Vice Chancellor Noble rejected claims for breach of duty based on alleged Revlon breaches and alleged disclosure violations in connection with a merger approved by the board of directors of Plains consisting of 7 independent directors and the CEO, who stood to receive a large payout as well as to become a senior officer of the combined company if the proposed transaction with Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold is approved.
The Court found no Revlon breach in the Board failing to form a special committee and in letting the CEO lead the negotiations with Freeport. Likewise, the failure to engage in a pre-signing market check or go-shop and the failure to negotiate a collar on the stock component of the consideration or obtain an equity "kicker" did not rise to the level of a breach of duty. The Court found the deal protections to be reasonable as well.
On the disclosures, the Court rejected claims that, among other things, unlevered free cash flow number be disclosed, because the Company did not provide them to its financial adviser, and that other alleged omissions about the banker's methodology were "quibbles." The Court also rejected claims concerning alleged omissions about conflicts by the CEO and bankers, saying they were adequately disclosed (including the fact the financial advisor may have holding in Freeport).