Justia Delaware Court of Chancery Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Mergers & Acquisitions

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Dell Inc. completed a merger that gave rise to appraisal rights. Fourteen appraisal petitioners were mutual funds sponsored by T. Rowe Price & Associates, Inc. (T. Rowe) or institutions that relied on T. Rowe to direct the voting of their shares (collectively, Petitioners). Petitioners held their shares through a custodial bank, which was a participant member in a trust company, which held Petitioners’ shares in the name of Cede & Co., which, for purposes of Delaware law, was the holder of record. Cede was constrained to vote Petitioners’ shares as T. Rowe directed and fulfilled its obligation through a chain of authorizations. Although T. Rowe opposed the merger, its voting system generated instructions to vote Petitioners’ shares in favor of it. Ultimately, Cede voted Petitioners’ shares in favor of the merger. Petitioners sought appraisal in favor of the merger. The Court of Chancery held (1) because the holder of record did not dissent as to the shares for which Petitioners sought appraisal, the dissenter requirement was not met of these shares; and (2) therefore, Petitioners’ shares did not qualify for appraisal, and Petitioners remained entitled to the merger consideration without an award of interest. View "In re Appraisal of Dell Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2010, El Paso Corporation (“El Paso Parent”) sold member interests in three limited liability companies to El Paso Pipeline Partners, LP (“El Paso MLP”). At the time of the sale, El Paso Parent controlled El Paso MLP through its ownership of El Paso Pipeline GP Company, LLC, the sole general partner of El Paso MLP (“El Paso GP”). In 2015, the Court of Chancery issued a post-trial decision concluding that El Paso GP breached the limited partnership agreement governing El Paso MLP by causing El Paso MLP to buy the member interests (the “Fall Dropdown”). In 2012, Plaintiff brought this action challenging the Fall Droptown. While the litigation was pending, Kinder Morgan, Inc., acquired El Paso Parent and therefore indirectly owned and controlled El Paso GP. After trial, Kinder Morgan, El Paso Parent, El Paso MLP, and El Paso GP consummated a merger that ended El Paso MLP’s separate existence as a publicly traded entity. El Paso GP moved to dismiss this litigation, arguing that because Plaintiff styled his claim as derivative the closing of the merger meant that this case must be dismissed. The Court of Chancery denied El Paso GP’s motion to dismiss, holding that the merger did not extinguish Plaintiff’s standing to pursue the claim, and therefore, this Court can implement the liability award. View "In re El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. Derivative Litig." on Justia Law

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This action arose out of the stock-for-stock merger of Jefferies Group, Inc. and Leucadia National Corporation. After the transaction was announced, the first of seven actions challenging the proposed transactions as filed in New York state court. The case subsequently proceeded in Delaware. Before trial began, the parties reached an agreement-in-principle to settle the case. The settlement, which was formally approved by the Court of Chancery, resulted in a payment of $70 million to the Class. Delaware Counsel sought an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses, and New York Plaintiffs filed a motion for a share of the fee award. The Court of Chancery (1) held that Delaware Counsel was entitled to a fee award of $21.5 million, which equated to 23.5 percent of the gross value of the settlement; and (2) denied the New York Plaintiffs’ motion for a share of the fee award in this action, holding that the New York Plaintiffs failed to substantiate their contribution to the results achieved in the Delaware action. View "In re Jefferies Group, Inc. Shareholders Litig." on Justia Law

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After David H. Murdock, the CEO and controlling stockholder of Dole Food Company, Inc., acquired all the shares of Dole common stock that he did not already own, Petitioners pursued their statutory right to an appraisal of their shares of Dole common stock. During discovery, Dole sought information about any valuations of Dole common stock that Petitioners prepared, reviewed, or considered when buying to selling Dole common stock or when seeking appraisal. Petitioners objected to the document requests. Dole subsequently served notices of deposition for each Petitioner pursuant to Court of Chancery Rule 30(b)(6) and identified the valuations as a topic of questioning. During the depositions, Petitioners’ counsel instructed the Rule 30(b)(6) witnesses not to testify about the valuations on the basis of relevance. Dole moved to compel production of the valuation-related information and for supplemental Rule 30(b)(6) depositions. The Court of Chancery granted the motion, holding that, under the circumstances, Petitioners’ failure to provide the discovery was not substantially justified. View "In re Appraisal of Dole Food Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co., challenged Optum Services, Inc’s acquisition by merger, via Audax Holdings, Inc., of Audax Health Solutions, Inc. Plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that certain provisions of the merger agreement were contrary to the Delaware General Corporation Law. Those provisions related to a release of claims, an indemnification requirement, and the appointment of a stockholder representative. The Court of Chancery granted the motion in part and denied it in part, holding (1) the release of claims lacks any force because the buyer attempted to impose that obligation in a contract lacking consideration; (2) the indemnification provision violates 8 Del. Cas. 251; and (3) Plaintiff failed to brief the stockholder representative issue sufficiently to support its request for judgment as a matter of law. View "Cigna Health & Life Ins. Co. v. Audax Health Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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After TPC Group Inc. announced its acquisition by First Reserve Corporation, SK Capital Partners, and their affiliates (collectively, the PE Group), Plaintiffs, shareholders of TPC, brought a class action against TPC, the TPC’s board of directors, and the PE Group (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiffs’ claims were later mooted, and the Court of Chancery awarded attorneys’ fees for the disclosures resulting from Plaintiffs’ efforts. At issue before the Court was whether Plaintiffs were entitled to attorneys’ fees for the increase in the merger price achieved between the commencement of this litigation and the acquisition’s closing under an amended merger agreement. The Court of Chancery denied Plaintiffs’ application for an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses for the increase in the merger price, concluding that Plaintiffs did not cause the price increase in any way. View "In re TPC Group Inc. S’holders Litig." on Justia Law

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In 2004, KKR & Co. LP (KKR) acquired KKR Financial Holdings LLC (KFN) in a stock-for-stock merger. Plaintiffs, stockholders of KFN, challenged the merger by filing a class action complaint, asserting breach of fiduciary duty claims against the members of the KFN board and KKR. The Court of Chancery dismissed the action for failure to state a claim for relief, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ fiduciary duty claim against KKR premised on the theory that KKR was a controlling stockholder of KFN failed, as KKR did not control the board of KFN when it approved the merger; and (2) Plaintiffs’ fiduciary duty claim against the directors of KFN failed because the board’s approval of the merger was subject to business judgment review. View "In re KKR Fin. Holdings LLC Shareholder Litig." on Justia Law

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A class of stockholders of Rural/Metro Corporation (Rural) filed a class action against RBC Capital Markets, LLC (RBC) for aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty by the board of directors of Rural in relation to a merger between Rural and Warburg Pincus, LLC. The post-trial decision held RBC liable to Plaintiffs but did not fix an amount of damages suffered by the class. This opinion quantified the amount of damages for which RBC was liable, setting the amount of RBC’s liability to the class at $75,798,550, which represented eighty-three percent of the total damages. The court also awarded pre- and post-judgment interest at the legal rate from June 30, 2011, until the date of payment. View "In re Rural/Metro Corp. Stockholders Litig." on Justia Law

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First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (FC North), a bank holding company incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, adopted by forum selection bylaw (the “Forum Selection Bylaw”) the same day it announced it had entered into a merger agreement to acquire First Citizens Bancorporation, Inc. The Forum Selection Bylaw selected as the forum the federal or state courts of North Carolina instead of the state or federal courts of Delaware. The City of Providence filed complaints challenging as invalid the Forum Selection Bylaw and asserting various claims against the FC North board of directors concerning the proposed merger. The Court of Chancery granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss both complaints for failure to state a claim, holding (1) the Forum Selection Bylaw is facially valid; and (2) it is not unreasonable, unjust, or inequitable to enforce the Forum Selection Bylaw in this case. View "City of Providence v. First Citizens Bancshares, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Occam Networks, Inc. merged with Calix, Inc., Plaintiffs filed an action contending that Defendants, Occam directors and others, breached their fiduciary duties by making decisions during Occam’s sale process that fell outside the range of reasonableness and by issuing a proxy statement for Occam’s stockholder vote on the merger that contained materially misleading disclosures and material omissions. Defendants moved for summary judgment. The Court of Chancery (1) granted the director defendants’ motion for summary judgment, holding that a provision in Occam’s certificate of incorporation exculpated them from liability; and (2) denied summary judgment as to the disclosure claims because genuine issues of material fact existed as to these claims. View "Chen v. Anderson" on Justia Law