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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.

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 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.

Harrison v. Envision Mgmt. Holding, Inc.

The U.S. District Court (Colorado) denied a motion to compel arbitration the defendants brought in a case the plaintiff participants brought (a purported class action) in an ESOP the defendant company, et al. established. “The Plaintiff argues that the Defendants’ actions related to the sale caused him and all other ESOP participants to suffer significant losses to their ESOP retirement savings.” The court denied the motion.

U.S. District Court Denies Motion of Defendants in an ESOP Case to Compel Plaintiff Into Arbitration

The U.S. District Court (Colorado) denied a motion to compel arbitration the defendants brought in a case the plaintiff participants brought (a purported class action) in an ESOP the defendant company, et al. established. “The Plaintiff argues that the Defendants’ actions related to the sale caused him and all other ESOP participants to suffer significant losses to their ESOP retirement savings.” The court denied the motion.

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.

Silver lining to Vinoskey ESOP appeal decision

In the well-publicized Vinoskey ESOP case (our latest coverage is here), the appellate court affirmed the district court in deciding that the company owner had extensive knowledge about the company and its prior valuations, and, thus, it was plausible to infer that “something was off.”

Business Valuation Case Law Yearbook, 2022 Edition

January 2022 PDF, Softcover (177 pages)

BVR (editor)

Business Valuation Resources, LLC

The legal coverage and in-depth analysis from the BVR legal team deliver lessons learned to help appraisers reach better and more defensible valuation conclusions. All the cases featured in this book impart important lessons about applicable legal principles, approved and discredited valuation methodology, and the act (and art) of presenting expert opinions. This must-have collection benefits both the generalist as well as the specialist.

Learn more >>

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.

An Inside Look at the Landmark ESOP Valuation Case

For over a decade, the Department of Labor has not lost a major ESOP case on a valuation issue, but its winning streak ended with Walsh v. Bowers. The case involves many key valuation issues, and Ken Pia (Marcum LLP) and Ian Rusk (Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners LLC), expert witnesses for the defense, give their insights.

Court Affirms Violation of ERISA but Allows Offset of Debt Forgiveness in Determining Damages

This case covered the appellate decisions regarding the well-publicized Vinoskey ESOP case. The appellate court affirmed the district court in deciding that the company owner had extensive knowledge about the company and its prior valuations, and thus it was plausible to infer that “something was off.” There was no clear error in the district court finding that the owner violated ERISA. The appellate court also allowed an offset to damages for the debt the owner forgave.

Walsh v. Vinoskey

This case covered the appellate decisions regarding the well-publicized Vinoskey ESOP case. The appellate court affirmed the district court in deciding that the company owner had extensive knowledge about the company and its prior valuations, and thus it was plausible to infer that “something was off.” There was no clear error in the district court finding that the owner violated ERISA. The appellate court also allowed an offset to damages for the debt the owner forgave.

BV News and Trends November 2021

A monthly roundup of key developments of interest to business valuation experts.

Key ESOP case underlines importance of the management interview

In the published opinion in the groundbreaking recent Walsh v Bowers ESOP case, the court noted that the DOL’s valuation expert’s “failure to follow Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) introduced substantial errors into [his] analysis.”

Will the landmark ESOP valuation case open the door?

During an amazing webinar with the testifying experts in the recent Walsh v Bowers ESOP case, a question came in from the audience: “Do you think this case will open the door for the Department of Labor and the valuation profession to work together to develop guidance around ESOP valuations?”

Experts in landmark ESOP valuation case give the inside story

For over a decade, the Department of Labor has not lost a major ESOP case on a valuation issue, but its winning streak ended with Walsh v. Bowers.

BV News and Trends September 2021

A monthly roundup of key developments of interest to business valuation experts.

Major win in ESOP valuation case vs. DOL

A district court has ruled “decisively” against the Department of Labor (DOL) in an ESOP valuation case, stressing that the DOL failed to follow standard valuation practices.

District Court Rules ‘Decisively’ Against the DOL in an ESOP Overvaluation Case

The Department of Labor sued the defendants, which included two individual owners, Bowers & Kubota Consulting Inc. and the Bowers & Kubota ESOP, alleging that the defendants had violated ERISA laws by manipulating data to induce the ESOP to pay $40 million for the shares of the individual shareholders that the DOL claimed was in excess of the fair market value of the shares. After extensive testimony of valuation experts and analysis of the facts of the case, the court determined that no ERISA violations have been established.

Walsh v. Bowers

A district court has ruled “decisively” against the Department of Labor (DOL) in an ESOP valuation case, stressing that the DOL failed to follow standard valuation practices.

BV News and Trends August 2021

A monthly roundup of key developments of interest to business valuation experts.

Recap of recent BV cases of note

A number of recent cases have emerged that contain various valuation issues.

ESOP litigation has become ‘risky business,’ says Alerding

As BVWire recently reported, the latest development in the long-running Brundle ESOP litigation is a lawsuit the trustee has filed against the very ESOP appraiser it once had hired to work on the case.

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