Akorn, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi AG: Suit for Specific Performance of Merger Agreement

In Akorn, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi AG (Del. Ch. 2018 WL 4719347), the plaintiff pharmaceutical company (“Akorn”) brought suit against Fresenius seeking specific performance of its signed merger agreement. Fresenius argued it was permitted to terminate the merger agreement because Akorn’s actions, performance, and misrepresentations following execution of the agreement constituted a materially adverse effect (“MAE”) under the terms of the merger agreement and thus excused Fresenius’s obligation to perform. The court held that Fresenius legally terminated its merger agreement with Akorn because: (1) Akorn made material misrepresentations with regard to its business operations and the status of its regulatory compliance before the closing date, (2) Akorn did not materially comply with or perform its obligations under the merger agreement prior to the effective closing date, and (3) Akorn suffered a general MAE that allowed Fresenius to terminate the agreement.

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How did the Government Shutdown Affect the Lyft and Uber IPOs? What are the Future Implications?

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.

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Should Shareholders Expect Greater Boardroom Accountability in 2019 with the Appointment of “Third Point Nominees”?

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.

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Response to Jonathan Levin’s Top Three Predictions for Cryptocurrency in 2019

Last year, financial regulators around the world adapted to the rise of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Approaches to regulation have varied, but most major financial markets are striving to better understand the technology and develop methods for investor transparency and protection. In 2018, regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) reacted to the cryptocurrency marketplace with heightened attention. (Jonathan Levin, Bloomberg). Last year, for example, the SEC started to examine smaller brokerage firms dealing virtual tokens for potential enforcement actions. Outside the United States, French regulator Autorite des Marches Financiers (“AMF”) blacklisted new cryptocurrency investment websites, while Russia drafted legislation to implement cryptocurrency regulation.

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Increasing GDPR Concerns Cause M&A Transactions to Stall or Collapse Entirely

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).

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E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding acquires German data analysis start-up, Artisans

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”) [1]. (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).

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