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Cellular Telephone: An Interesting Decision for Valuation Practitioners

A recent Delaware decision in a breach of fiduciary duty case awarded more than triple the amount originally paid to partners who were squeezed out of their collective 1.881% interest in a partnership. Several aspects of this decision are of particular interest to valuation practitioners, especially those whose practice includes litigation services. The case is: In Re Cellular Tel. P’ship Litig.; 2022 Del. Ch. LEXIS 56 (Cellular).

Delaware Chancery Case on Shareholder Dissent Likely to Raise Eyebrows

A practitioner’s commentary on the Cellular case focuses on the tax-affecting issues in the case.

Delaware Chancery rejects partnership valuation in a freeze-out

In a coordinated action involving 13 partnerships that were involved in freeze-out transactions by AT&T of minority shareholders, the court found that AT&T breached its fiduciary duties and effectuated the freeze-out through an unfair process and by paying an unfair price.

In Re Cellular Tel. P’ship Litig.

In this coordinated action involving 13 partnerships that were involved in freeze-out transactions by AT&T of minority shareholders, AT&T breached its fiduciary duties and effectuated the freeze-out through an unfair process and by paying an unfair price. The freeze-out was subject to the entire fairness standard of review. AT&T bore the burden of proving that the freeze-out was entirely fair to the minority partners. AT&T failed in that proof and thereby sought to capture future value for itself. AT&T did not employ any procedures that insured fairness to the minority partners. The lead partner of the valuation firm had a long-standing relationship with AT&T, and internal AT&T personnel influenced the outcome of the valuation. The court determined the fair value of the interest as a remedy to the situation.

Delaware Chancery Court Rejects Partnership Valuation in a Freeze-Out as Unfair to Minority Partners

In this coordinated action involving 13 partnerships that were involved in freeze-out transactions by AT&T of minority shareholders, AT&T breached its fiduciary duties and effectuated the freeze-out through an unfair process and by paying an unfair price. The freeze-out was subject to the entire fairness standard of review. AT&T bore the burden of proving that the freeze-out was entirely fair to the minority partners. AT&T failed in that proof and thereby sought to capture future value for itself. AT&T did not employ any procedures that insured fairness to the minority partners. The lead partner of the valuation firm had a long-standing relationship with AT&T, and internal AT&T personnel influenced the outcome of the valuation. The court determined the fair value of the interest as a remedy to the situation.

In re Multiplan Corp. Stockholders Litig.

This case dealt with a motion to dismiss the claims of the plaintiffs (by the defendants) in a stockholder suit against a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The claims were primarily that the plaintiffs’ claims were derivative, which failed to plead demand futility and that the business judgment rule applied. Many of the parties’ arguments centered around unique characteristics of a SPAC. In concluding that the entire fairness standard of review applied, the Delaware Chancery Court noted that “the fact that a reasonably conceivable impairment of public stockholders’ redemption rights—in the form of materially misleading disclosures—has been pleaded in this case.” The case was to go forward against all but two defendants.

Delaware Chancery Court Allows Breach of Fiduciary Suit to Move Forward on a SPAC

This case dealt with a motion to dismiss the claims of the plaintiffs (by the defendants) in a stockholder suit against a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The claims were primarily that the plaintiffs’ claims were derivative, which failed to plead demand futility and that the business judgment rule applied. Many of the parties’ arguments centered around unique characteristics of a SPAC. In concluding that the entire fairness standard of review applied, the Delaware Chancery Court noted that “the fact that a reasonably conceivable impairment of public stockholders’ redemption rights—in the form of materially misleading disclosures—has been pleaded in this case.” The case was to go forward against all but two defendants.

Court of Chancery sanctions use of asset approach in complex appraisal case

A low-profile appraisal case in front of the Delaware Court of Chancery raised important valuation questions, including how the court should determine the fair value of a nonoperating entity and how it should deal with the value of claims both parties brought on behalf of the company prior to the contested merger.

In re Happy Child World, Inc.

In an entire-fairness-cum-statutory-appraisal case involving nonoperating day care center whose facility was leased on merger date, court approves use of capitalization of earnings and NAV models and averaging results to determine fair value; business model was uncertain on merger date, court notes.

Uncertain Business Model on Merger Date Justifies Use of Income and NAV Models, Court Says

In an entire-fairness-cum-statutory-appraisal case involving nonoperating day care center whose facility was leased on merger date, court approves use of capitalization of earnings and NAV models and averaging results to determine fair value; business model was uncertain on merger date, court notes.

In re Tesla Motors Stockholder Litig.

Court of Chancery says Tesla dissenting shareholders allege sufficient facts to show company CEO, Elon Musk, was a controlling shareholder, despite holding a minority interest; court allows breach of fiduciary claims concerning acquisition of related company to proceed.

Court Allows Tesla Dissenting Shareholder Suit to Go Forward

Court of Chancery says Tesla dissenting shareholders allege sufficient facts to show company CEO, Elon Musk, was a controlling shareholder, despite holding a minority interest; court allows breach of fiduciary claims concerning acquisition of related company to proceed.

Court Validates Use of IPO Valuation in Fair Value Proceeding

In shareholder suit involving pharmaceutical startup with uncertain prospects, appeals court upholds trial court’s rejection of expert testimony based on “traditional” valuation methods in favor of noncontemporary IPO valuation to determine fair value.

Kottayil v. Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

In shareholder suit involving pharmaceutical startup with uncertain prospects, appeals court upholds trial court’s rejection of expert testimony based on “traditional” valuation methods in favor of noncontemporary IPO valuation to determine fair value.

Court Validates Use of IPO Valuation in Fair Value Proceeding

In shareholder suit involving pharmaceutical startup with uncertain prospects, appeals court upholds trial court’s rejection of expert testimony based on “traditional” valuation methods in favor of noncontemporary IPO valuation to determine fair value.

Proxy Disclosed Sufficient Valuation Data to Allow Informed Vote on Merger

Chancery says proxy gave disinterested shareholders sufficient information about valuation analysis underlying financial advisor’s fairness opinion to enable informed vote, and it dismisses breach-of-fiduciary-duty claims under business judgment rule.

Proxy Disclosed Sufficient Valuation Data to Allow Informed Vote on Merger

Chancery says proxy gave disinterested shareholders sufficient information about valuation analysis underlying financial advisor’s fairness opinion to enable informed vote, and it dismisses breach-of-fiduciary-duty claims under business judgment rule.

In re Merge Healthcare Inc. Stockholders Litigation

Chancery says proxy gave disinterested shareholders sufficient information about valuation analysis underlying financial advisor’s fairness opinion to enable informed vote, and it dismisses breach-of-fiduciary-duty claims under business judgment rule.

Corwin v. KKR Fin. Holdings LLC

Regarding breach of fiduciary duty claims, Delaware Supreme Court says business judgment rule (lower standard of review) applies where disinterested stockholder majority approves merger with third party and vote was uncoerced and fully informed.

Valuations Underpin DE Chancery’s Ruling in Going-Private Merger

DE Supreme Court affirms use of business judgment review where controlling stockholder buyout includes two procedural protections for minority and finds valuations from independent financial advisor confirmed merger was favorable to minority stockholders.

Valuations Underpin DE Chancery’s Ruling in Going-Private Merger

DE Chancery adopts business judgment review standard where controlling stockholder buyout includes two procedural protections for minority and finds valuations from independent financial advisor demonstrate merger was favorable to minority stockholders.

Kahn v. M&F Worldwide Corp.

DE Supreme Court affirms use of business judgment review where controlling stockholder buyout includes two procedural protections for minority and finds valuations from independent financial advisor confirmed merger was favorable to minority stockholders.

In re MFW Shareholders Litig.

DE Chancery adopts business judgment review standard where controlling stockholder buyout includes two procedural protections for minority and finds valuations from independent financial advisor demonstrate merger was favorable to minority stockholders.

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