Monthly Archives: March 2009

March 11, 2009

A Little Comic Relief

Oddly, I’ve been watching a few of CNBC’s stock market shows lately. I guess I’ve been curious how they’ve been touting stocks in this downturn and it’s been comic relief. And the recent feud between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer has been absolutely hilarous – and coming to a head tomorrow when Jim appears on “The Daily Show.”

One of the delightful surprises was catching one of my advisors, Frank Aquila of Sullivan & Cromwell, on “Fast Money” Monday night (here is a video archive of it). Apparently Frank is a regular guest and he was great riffing on the state of M&A.

His shining moment was dealing with one of the host’s awkward statements that more deals tended to happen during the proxy season as she seemed to be confused about cause and effect. Frank didn’t show her up for her inartful statement (she probably meant that if companies were going to run slates they would have to be going forward right now).

Anyways, I think I’ve gotten CNBC out of my system. Fun while it lasted…

March 10, 2009

The “Deal Cube” Chronicles: Part 2

Following up on my earlier blog portraying some “deal cube” chronicles, I’m holding a contest for the coolest cube. Please email me pictures of the cube(s) that you cherish the most. If you wish to remain anonymous, I’ll honor that request as always.

Here are a few more deal toy stories:

– We did a public offering of subordinated debt a number of years back. There was an extensive negotiation with the senior lender regarding the subordination agreement and specifically on the “fish or cut bait” provisions which force the senior lender to exercise remedies or free the subordinated debt holders to exercise their remedies. The cube for the deal was the bones of a fish.

The underwriter only provided one such cube to one of the lawyers in my firm who worked on the deal. Over the next ten years, the cube was stolen from the office of the receiving lawyer multiple times by the other lawyers in the firm who worked on the deal and hidden away, but subsequently retrieved. Eventually, he brought the cube home only to have it stolen again at a firm party that he threw at his house.

– I have a cube from a deal I did about five or six years ago that looks like a miniature suitcase nuke. Some poor junior banker had to carry these things through airports on his way to the closing dinner. It’s a miracle he didn’t end up in Guantanamo in the cell next to “Harold and Kumar.”

More to come. Keep those deal cube stories coming…

March 9, 2009

Valuing Interests in Private Equity and Hedge Funds

In our “Private Equity” Practice Area, we have posted a number of memos and articles discussing the future of the private equity and hedge fund industries. One of the articles states:

“In fact, new research from The Boston Consulting Group and the IESE Business School indicates that at least 20 percent of the 100 largest leveraged-buyout private equity firms – and possibly as many as 40 percent – could go out of business within two to three years. More disturbingly, most private equity firms’ portfolio companies are expected to default on their debts, which are estimated at about $1 trillion.”

In a somewhat unusual move, the AICPA has put out draft guidance regarding FAS No. 157, “Valuation Considerations for Interests in Alternative Investments” in which they have promised to keep all comments confidential.

March 5, 2009

Carbon Risks and Opportunities: Implications for Investment Activity and M&A

My guess is that this will be the year that law firms start catching up in the digital world. For example, Torys has started doing podcasts, including this podcast entitled “Carbon Risks and Opportunities: Implications for Investment Activity and M&A.”

Developments in Debt Restructurings & Debt Tender/Exchange Offers

We have posted the transcript for the webcast: “Developments in Debt Restructurings & Debt Tender/Exchange Offers.”

March 4, 2009

More on Roche and Genentech’s Tangled Web

– by Kevin Miller, Alston & Bird

As a follow-up to the excellent piece by John Jenkins, I thought the following point worth noting:

Under Pure Resources, any shareholder of Genentech should be able to get Roche’s tender offer enjoined until Genentech publicly discloses a summary of the financial analyses of Goldman Sachs underlying Goldman Sach’s inadequacy opinion on which the Genentech special committee relied in recommending that shareholders not tender their shares into the Roche offer.

That result was intended by the Pure Resources court to force the Pure Resources special committee to disclose the valuation ranges indicated by its financial advisors’ analyses so that shareholders could make an independent decision based on that analysis whether to tender or not. The Pure Resources court argued that because the special committee failed to obtain the right to implement a poison pill (just imagine the likelihood that Roche’s representatives on the Genentech board would authorize an independent special committee of Genentech directors to implement a pill), the special committee had no negotiating leverage and forcing the special committee to disclose its reserve price would not have adverse consequences, as shareholders were being left to their own devices and it was their reserve price that mattered.

The Pure Resources court’s ruling was problematic for a number of reasons including, among other things, that the court, rather than mandating that the special committee disclose a summary of its financial advisors’ valuation analyses, enjoined the offer, essentially playing into the hands of a spec. comm. recommending against the offer by giving them the ultimate defensive device, a judicial injunction.

So long as the Genentech special committee is not satisfied with the price offered by Roche, it should refuse to disclose a summary of GS’s financial analyses and welcome shareholder suits seeking to enjoin the offer on the basis of inadequate disclosure. For additional – and more detailed – criticisms of the Pure Resources decision, see my article.

March 3, 2009

The “Deal Cube” Chronicles

Recently, I blogged about the potential demise of the deal cubes and asked people for their stories (as well as conducted a deal toy poll, which is still ongoing if you want to vote). My own tale to tell is a woman I know who took a bunch of cubes to tile her bathroom walls. It actually looked pretty cool.

Here is a story from Bob Dow of Arnall Golden Gregory: As an associate in 1995 worked on an IPO for Moovies, a video chain, sort of mini-Blockbuster. Interesting deal cube, actually it was shaped like an old fashioned movie reel. Only the problem was, of course, even in 1995 no one was still handling the old reel-to-reel movies anymore, they were all video tapes. Fortunately when we did the secondary the next year, the underwriters (Needham) updated and gave us a deal toy in the shape of a VCR tape.

Here are some thoughts from a member who wished to remain anonymous: When I was a new associate, it was nice to receive one at the conclusion of a deal. Whatever it looked like (whether it had moving parts or just a tombstone in lucite), it felt good (to believe) that I was being acknowledged (by the powers that be) as a contributor to the team that closed the deal.

For me, after receiving a number of deal toys, the desire to receive more quickly vanished. Although a number of the toys were quite a novelty, they took up precious space in my office that was better served more practically. I’d much rather occupy the space with good precedent documents, and even better, receive leather bound volumes (another practice that has ebbed) for the transaction documents, which I could refer to for precedents. [Of course today, we can keep thousands of precedents on a thumb drive.]

Today, junior associates are still fascinated by deal toys – like opening presents on Christmas Day. It’s a subject of conversation with their fellow associates, and even a perceived badge of achievement. What I believe they really want is some recognition – from the partner or client – as being part of the team and for a job well done. Cubes seem a less than satisfactory method of serving this function (but maybe no different that a retirement watch). Closing dinners are a bit better but practically more difficult to organize (and certainly more costly).

Partners have even more deal toys in their offices – some collected since their first year as an associate (carried with them as a lateral from another firm). It serves a purpose for the partners: reminding them of their past conquests (when they were younger); reminding other people (including clients and potential clients) that “you’ve stepped into the office of a ‘dealmaker’; giving associates something to look at or play with while waiting for the partner to get off the phone; and giving employment to the evening cleaning crew to keep the dust off the deal toys (but pity them if they break a piece and raise the ire of the partner).

There will be more “deal cube chronicles” soon. Keep the stories coming. I’ll keep your identity anonymous if you wish…

March 2, 2009

Madden v. Cowen & Co.: SLUSA’s “Delaware Carve-Out” Applies to Suit Against M&A Financial Adviser

– by John Jenkins, Calfee Halter & Griswold

In Madden v. Cowen & Co. (C.A.9 (Cal.)) (2/11/09), the Ninth Circuit held the “Delaware carve out” contained in the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 applied to disclosure claims brought against an investment banking firm that rendered a fairness opinion to the board of a seller’s subsidiary in connection with a merger transaction. The case appears to be the first in which a court has extended the Delaware carve-out to shareholder claims made against persons other than officers or directors of the company in which they owned stock.

SLUSA preempts certain state-law based securities fraud class actions involving “covered securities” under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Before SLUSA’s enactment, plaintiffs had used state-law based class actions to avoid the heightened pleading requirements and other procedural impediments imposed on federal securities class actions by the PSLRA. Under SLUSA, federal claims are generally the only ones permitted to be made for class actions involving securities traded on a national securities exchange, and federal court is the only forum in which those claims may be brought.

SLUSA contains several important exceptions to its preemption of state law shareholder class actions. These include derivative actions and actions based on the law of the issuer’s state of incorporation. These two exceptions have come to be known as the Delaware carve-out. In order for a non-derivative claim to fall within the scope of the Delaware carve-out, it must involve either:

– the purchase or sale of securities by the issuer or an affiliate of the issuer exclusively from or to holders of equity securities of the issuer; or

– a recommendation, position, or other communication with respect to the sale of the issuer’s securities that is made by or on behalf of the issuer or its affiliate to equity holders, and concerns the equity holders’ decisions with respect to voting their securities, responding to a tender or exchange offer, or exercising dissenters’ or appraisal rights.

The second bulleted exception has been used to preserve state law fiduciary duty of disclosure-based claims against directors. See, e.g, Alessi v. Beracha, 244 F. Supp. 2d 354 (D. Del. 2003). However, courts have traditionally declined to extend the carve-out for disclosures made “by or on behalf of an issuer” to disclosure based claims involving communications from persons other than the corporation or its officers and directors. See e.g. Greaves v. McAuley, 264 F. Supp. 2d 1078, 1083-84 (N.D. Ga. 2003) (holding that fiduciary duty claims by former shareholders against the company and its board members were covered by the Delaware carve-out but that claims against the buyer were not).

In Madden, the Ninth circuit rejected contentions by the investment bank that its communications were not made “on behalf of” the issuer. In making this argument, the bank pointed out that it did not serve as the financial adviser to the company in which the plaintiffs were shareholders. Instead, the bank was retained to render a fairness opinion to the board of directors of that company’s majority-owned subsidiary.

Nevertheless, the court noted that the complaint alleged that investment bank’s fairness opinion “was provided to the shareholders of St. Joseph with Cowen’s consent and that the shareholders relied on the opinion when voting in favor of the merger.” Accordingly, the court held that the complaint sufficiently alleged that the bank’s communication was “on behalf of” St. Joseph for purposes of the Delaware carve-out, regardless of whether Cowen addressed its letter only to the subsidiary’s board.