The recent government shutdown prevented privately held companies from submitting their requests to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to offer their shares to the public. The SEC is responsible for reviewing a company’s registration documents and financial data necessary for initial public offerings (“IPOs”). Prior to the shutdown, the SEC urged companies to file accelerated registration statements so that they could be approved. (Associated Press, New York Times). Although companies may go public without SEC approved registration statements, the company would certainly be subject to SEC scrutiny upon the government’s reopening. (Rob Crilly, The National). Consequently, most companies decided to wait for approval from the SEC prior to their IPOs being made available.Read More
Proxy contests are one means through which shareholders can voice concerns about board action. Due to their excessively high cost, proxy contests were once somewhat rare; today, however, they are much more common due to the flourish of hedge funds. (Warren S. de Wied, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Westlaw Practical Law). One such hedge fund contributing to these proxy contests is Third Point, LLC (“Third Point”), founded by Daniel S. Loeb in New York in 1995. (Campbell Soup Co.). This note introduces readers to current trends in activist-led proxy contests, summarizes a recent proxy fight between Third Point and Campbell Soup Co. (“Campbell”), and speculates on how this and similar contests may affect corporate accountability in 2019.Read More
On May 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) began the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with the aim of protecting all citizens residing within the EU from privacy and data breaches. (GDPR Key Changes, GDPR.org). Approximately 40% of acquiring companies that engage in merger and acquisition transactions discover cybersecurity issues in their newly-acquired entities, and companies are starting to become wearier of acquisition transactions due to the expensive repercussions of non-compliance with GDPR rules. (Harroch, Forbes). Approximately $1.3 trillion of deals have failed with 900 transactions being terminated or withdrawn due to GDPR concerns, despite 2018 being a notable year overall for mergers and acquisitions. (Thomson, Bloomberg Law).Read More
Alibaba Group Holding (“Alibaba”), a Chinese multinational corporation, which provides internet infrastructure, e-commerce, online financial, and internet content services, has acquired German start-up data analysis company, Data Artisans (“Artisans”) . (Reuters, Bloomberg). Alibaba has been called the Chinese “Amazon” and is currently the world's fifth-largest internet company by revenue. (Yahoo Finance). Artisans, which was founded in 2014 by Kostas Tzoumas and Stephan Ewen, is attributed with creating Apache Flink, an open source stream processing framework for high-performance, scalable, and accurate real-time applications. (Ververica). The Apache Flink application essentially analyzes large quantities of data as it comes in, rather than once it is saved, providing for a more efficient stream processing method. (Stephan Scheuer, Handelsblatt).Read More
Following Democratic control of the House, a new resolution was passed in January as a means to limit lawmakers’ control over public companies. Specifically, the resolution amended the Rules of the House of Representatives to ban House lawmakers’ membership on public company boards, with exceptions for nonprofits and board positions that do not provide compensation. (H. Res. 1043). Other rules passed at the same time direct the House Committee of Ethics to address conflict of interest concerns arising from lawmakers’ participation in other company roles. (Andrea Vittorio, Bloomberg Law). Although a similar ban and exceptions have existed for members of the Senate, until now there were no equivalent rules for the House.Read More
Is political endorsement considered good corporate governance practice? Patagonia says yes.
Shortly before the November 6, 2018 midterm election, Patagonia publicly endorsed two Democratic senatorial candidates, Jon Tester from Montana and Jacky Rosen from Nevada, what appears to be a first for any corporation. Patagonia stated that it endorsed the candidates because of their commitment to public lands and waters. (Dino Grandoni, Power Post). Both Tester and Rosen were victorious in the midterm elections.Read More