News & Analysis as of

Top 10 Topics for Directors in 2015

In this issue: - Strategic Planning Challenges - Cybersecurity - Assess the Impact of Advances in Technology and Big Data - Shareholder Activism - The Return of M&A - Risk...more

In re Novell, Inc. S’holder Litig., C.A. No. 6032 (Del. Ch. Nov. 25, 2014) (Noble, V.C.)

In this memorandum opinion, the Court of Chancery granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on claims alleging that directors acted in bad faith by favoring a bidder in a sale process for reasons other than the pursuit...more

Commissioner Gallagher Posits SEC Would Prevail Against Harvard University

Just this week, Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher and former Commissioner Joseph A. Grundfest issued a draft of a paper that takes on the Harvard Shareholder Rights Project. The Harvard SRP describes itself as “a clinical...more

Minority Shareholders' Alleged Control of Management and Operations Does Not Establish Domination of the Board

Emphasizing the demanding pleading standards a shareholder must meet to show that a minority shareholder controls a board of directors, on November 25, Vice Chancellor Glasscock dismissed claims for breach of fiduciary duties...more

Delaware Court Preliminarily Enjoins Merger Due to Flawed Sales Process

On November 24, 2014, the Delaware Court of Chancery preliminarily enjoined for thirty days a vote by C&J Energy Services stockholders on a merger with Nabors Red Lion Limited, to allow time for C&J's board of directors to...more

Judge Orders Stockholder To “Register” Correspondence With The SEC

Many boards operate with a high degree of collegiality, even when the directors disagree. Some don’t. When the board of directors of Gas Natural Inc., a publicly traded natural gas holding company, voted to remove its CEO...more

The Next Wave of Proxy Access Proposals: What Issuers Should Know and How They Can Prepare

The Comptroller of the City of New York, who oversees pension funds with a combined $160 billion in assets, recently submitted proxy access shareholder proposals at 75 U.S. public companies as part of its Boardroom...more

NYC Pension Fund Submits 75 Proxy Access Proposals

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, on behalf of the $160 billion New York City Pension Funds, has submitted proxy access shareowner proposals to 75 companies. The proposals request a bylaw to give shareowners who...more

Consequences of a Data Breach: Lessons from Wyndham Worldwide

On October 20, 2014, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation won dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit seeking damages arising out of three data breaches that occurred between 2008 and 2010. Dennis Palkon, et al. v. Stephen P....more

Court Dismisses Shareholder Derivative Action Targeting Directors and Officers for Data Breaches

Earlier this week a federal district court in New Jersey dismissed with prejudice a shareholder derivative suit, Palkon v. Holmes, No. 14-CV-01234 (SRC) (D.N.J.), that tried to blame the directors and officers at hospitality...more

ISS Publishes 2015 Draft Policy Changes; Comments Due by October 29, 2014

On October 15, 2014, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) published its key draft policy changes for the 2015 proxy season. There are only two proposed updates for the United States. The first introduces a new...more

ISS Releases 2015 Draft Voting Policy Changes for Comment

On October 15, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a leading proxy advisory firm, released for comment draft voting policy changes for 2015. The two significant proposals that would impact US companies are as follows...more

ISS Releases 2015 Draft Voting Policies for Independent Chair and Equity Incentive Plan Proposals

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recently released for public comment its 2015 draft voting policies. The draft policies relate to two topics affecting the U.S. market: independent board chair shareholder proposals...more

Delaware Court Approves Out-Of-State Forum Selection Bylaw Adopted At Time Of Merger

In City of Providence v. First Citizens BancShares Inc. et al., C.A. No. 9795-CB (Del. Ch. Sept. 8, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Bouchard, C.) held that a minority shareholder's claims against a Delaware...more

1, 2 or 3 Years? How Should Boards Decide The Frequency Of Say-On-Pay Votes?

Although the initial ruckus over how to determine the outcome of executive compensation say-on-frequency votes has subsided, I still maintain that the Securities and Exchange Commission botched the rule (§240.14a-21(b)). ...more

Activism: An Overview from the Company Perspective

Increasingly, companies are being confronted with shareholders seeking to exercise power and influence over business activities. The term “activism” has become a buzzword to refer to shareholders seeking to make operational,...more

Delaware Court of Chancery Reaffirms Enforceability of Forum Selection Bylaws

In City of Providence v. First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (Del. Ch. September 8, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery upheld a forum selection bylaw that designated North Carolina as the exclusive forum for certain...more

SEC Charges Insiders for Violations of Section 16(a) and Section 13

On September 10, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against 28 officers, directors, and major shareholders for violating federal securities laws requiring them to report information about their...more

Delaware Supreme Court Rules That Privileged Documents Must Be Produced To Shareholders Investigating Corporate Misconduct

The Delaware Supreme Court recently held that, in certain circumstances, shareholders may be able to obtain access to privileged, internal documents in order to investigate potential breaches of fiduciary duty. In Wal-Mart...more

The Root Cause of Skyrocketing Securities Class Action Defense Costs

Why do the costs of defending securities class actions continue to increase? Because of my writing on the subject) I’m asked about the issue a lot. My answer has evolved from blaming biglaw economics – a combination of...more

Activism and Engagement: Yadda, Yadda, Yadda or a Useful tool (or a Little of Both)

Activism is on the rise and everyone's activism defense playbook includes engagement, engagement and more engagement as the principal response. The experts in the field are well versed in when to engage, who to engage...more

Creative Shareholder Engagement–Director Videos?

Much has been written lately about the importance of shareholder engagement. (See this Doug’s Note, for example.) There has even been recent clambering to involve directors directly in shareholder engagement....more

Director Liability for Cybersecurity Risks

If a corporation is the target of a cyberattack resulting in a data breach, its board may be the target of a shareholder derivative action claiming breach of fiduciary duty. A recent example is Palkon v. Holmes, No....more

Directors and stockholder engagement: what path to take?

For many decades, independent directors in most public companies generally avoided face-to-face interaction with stockholders. At most, large stockholders would receive a visit from management on a swing through New York or...more

Significant Legislation Affecting Business Passed by General Assembly

At the end of last week, the North Carolina General Assembly passed significant legislation affecting the State’s business legal climate. With large bipartisan majorities, the Legislature adopted Senate Bill 853 (SB 853),...more

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