June 16, 2008

Corp Fin’s No-Action Letter: Partial Tender Offers Under US and Israeli Law

Here is some analysis from Jim Moloney of Gibson Dunn: This recent no-action letter – Elron Electronics Industries – is unusual in that it relates to a partial tender offer being done under U.S. and Israeli law. Here you have a situation where an Israeli bidder is is making an all-cash tender offer for up to 5% of the outstanding ordinary shares and ADRs in a single offer. It is somewhat more typical to see a dual-offer structure. According to the bidder, a recent record holder list shows a relatively high percentage of shares held by U.S. persons — approximately 63%. However, the bidder believes the U.S. ownership of the subject company is really closer to 52%.

The Israeli Companies Law requires a 4-day extension of the tender offer period, without a corresponding extension of withdrawal rights (a “subsequent offering period”), once all conditions to the offer have been satisfied. Payment of the tender offer consideration is expected four or more days after the expiration of the subsequent offering period which is apparently permitted under Israeli law.

For reasons not clearly articulated in the letter, the “subsequent offer period” that is permitted under U.S. law (Rule 14d-11) does not work here. Presumably that is because the offer is “partial” and Rule 14d-11 requires that the offer be for “all outstanding” securities of the class sought and the bidder must “accept and promptly pay for all securities” tendered during the initial offering period upon the close of the initial offering period. Therefore, the bidder requested relief from the prompt payment rule (Rule 14e-1(c)) and the rule requiring withdrawal rights (Rule 14d-7(a)(1)), which the staff granted.