Tag: Public firms


Are Public Companies Required to Disclose Government Investigations?

Jon N. Eisenberg is partner in the Government Enforcement practice at K&L Gates LLP. This post is based on a K&L Gates publication by Mr. Eisenberg.

For many public companies, the first issue they have to confront after they receive a government subpoena or Civil Investigative Demand (“CID”) is whether to disclose publicly that they are under investigation. Curiously, the standards for disclosure of investigations are more muddled than one would expect. As a result, disclosure practices vary—investigations are sometimes disclosed upon receipt of a subpoena or CID, sometimes when the staff advises a company that it has tentatively decided to recommend an enforcement action, sometimes not until the end of the process, and sometimes at other intermediate stages along the way. In many cases, differences in the timing of disclosure may reflect different approaches to disclosure. We discuss below the standards that govern the disclosure decision and practical considerations. We then provide five representative examples of language that companies used when they disclosed investigations at an early stage.

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SPAC-and-Span: A Clean Exit?

Carol Anne Huff is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis who practices corporate and securities laws, with an emphasis on the representation of private equity firms and public companies in capital markets transactions and in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. The following post is based on a Kirkland memorandum by Ms. Huff and Daniel Wolf.

While robust M&A and IPO markets have given investors solid liquidity options, in some cases selling a company to a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, can be an appealing alternative. Recent examples in the United States include the $500 million acquisition by Levy Acquisition Corp. of Del Taco in June 2015 and the pending $879 million acquisition by Boulevard Acquisition Corp. of AgroFresh Inc., a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. In the UK, notable examples include Burger King going public in 2012 through a $1.4 billion merger with a UK SPAC.

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2015 Spin-Off Guide

Gregory E. Ostling is a partner in the Corporate Department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. This post is based on the introduction to a Wachtell Lipton memorandum; the complete publication, including annexes, is available here.

A spin-off involves the separation of a company’s businesses through the creation of one or more separate, publicly traded companies. Spin-offs have been popular because many investors, boards and managers believe that certain businesses may command higher valuations if owned and managed separately, rather than as part of the same enterprise. An added benefit is that a spin-off can often be accomplished in a manner that is tax-free to both the existing public company (referred to as the parent) and its shareholders. Moreover, robust debt markets have enabled companies to lock in low borrowing costs for the business being separated and monetize a portion of its value. For example, in connection with its $55 billion spin-off from Abbott Laboratories in 2012, AbbVie conducted a $14.7 billion bond offering, which at the time was the largest ever investment- grade corporate bond deal in the United States, at a weighted average interest rate of approximately two percent. Other notable recent spin-offs include Penn National Gaming’s spin-off of its real estate assets into the first-ever casino REIT, Rayonier’s spin-off of its performance fibers division, Energizer Holdings’ planned spin-off of its personal care business, Gannett’s planned spin-off of its publishing business, DuPont’s planned spin-off of its performance chemicals business, Yahoo!’s planned spin-off of its stake in Alibaba, eBay’s planned spin- off of PayPal, HP’s planned separation of its PC and printer business and its enterprise business and W.R. Grace’s planned separation of its construction and packaging business and its catalyst and materials technologies business. There were 204 spin-offs announced in 2014 and 201 in 2013.

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IRS Releases Final Regulations Under Section 162(m)

The following post comes to us from Edmond T. FitzGerald, partner and head of the Executive Compensation Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and is based on a Davis Polk client memorandum by Kyoko Takahashi Lin.

On March 31, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service published final regulations under Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code. As it did when it proposed these regulations in 2011, the IRS has indicated that these regulations are not intended to reflect substantive changes to existing requirements of Section 162(m), but rather to clarify them.

The final regulations clarify two requirements for exceptions from the Section 162(m) tax deductibility limit:

  • the need for per-employee limits on equity awards in order to qualify stock options and stock appreciation rights (SARs) for the “qualified performance-based compensation” exception; and
  • the treatment of restricted stock units (RSUs) or phantom stock arrangements under the transition period exception for certain compensation “paid” by newly public companies.

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2015 IPO Study

The following post comes to us from Proskauer Rose LLP and is based on the Executive Summary of a Proskauer publication; the complete publication, including extensive analysis of multiple industry sectors and foreign private issuers, is available here.

We examined 119 U.S.-listed IPOs with a minimum deal size of $50 million in 2014, representing about half of the overall market for deals meeting those criteria. Our study covered a range of industries and included foreign private issuers and master limited partnerships, but excluded certain uncommon deal structures.

This edition expands on last year’s study (discussed on the Forum here) in several important ways. Collectively, these enhancements widen our perspective and, in the process, deepen our analysis.

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Corporate Investment and Stock Market Listing: A Puzzle?

The following post comes to us from John Asker, Professor of Economics at UCLA; Joan Farre-Mensa of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School; and Alexander Ljungqvist, Professor of Finance at NYU.

Economists have long worried that a stock market listing can induce short-termist pressures that distort the investment decisions of public firms. Back in 1985 Narayanan wrote in the Journal of Finance that “American managers tend to make decisions that yield short-term gains at the expense of the long-term interests of the shareholders.” More recently, a growing number of commentators blame the sluggish performance of the U.S. economy since the 2008–2009 financial crisis on short-termism. For example, in a recent Harvard Business Review article, Barton and Wiseman, global managing director at McKinsey & Co. and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, respectively, argue that “the ongoing short-termism in the business world is undermining corporate investment, holding back economic growth.”

Yet, systematic empirical evidence of widespread short-termism has proved elusive, largely because identifying its effects is challenging. A chief challenge is the difficulty of finding a plausible counterfactual for how firms would invest absent short-termist pressures. In our paper, Corporate Investment and Stock Market Listing: A Puzzle?, which is forthcoming at the Review of Financial Studies, we address this difficulty by comparing the investment behavior of stock market-listed firms to that of comparable privately held firms, using a novel panel dataset of private U.S. firms covering more than 400,000 firm years over the period 2001–2011. Building on prior work, our key identification assumption is that, on average, private firms suffer from fewer agency problems and, in particular, are subject to fewer short-termist pressures than are their listed counterparts. This assumption is motivated by the fact that private firms are often owner managed and, even when not, are both illiquid and typically have highly concentrated ownership. These features encourage their owners to monitor management more closely to ensure long-term value is maximized.

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An IPO’s Impact on Rival Firms

The following post comes to us from Matthew Spiegel, Professor of Finance at Yale University, and Heather Tookes, Professor of Finance at Yale University.

An initial public offering (IPO) is a major event in the life of any firm. But what does an IPO imply for the industry’s future? In our paper, An IPO’s Impact on Rival Firms, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we take a structural approach that allows different industries to progress in different ways post IPO. If one is forced to make a sweeping generalization, then this paper finds an IPO augurs in an era of reduced profits and greater consumer mobility within an industry. Unlike a static model, a structural model’s parameters produce implications about magnitudes rather than just signs. This permits one to assess whether the estimates are economically “reasonable in a straightforward manner.”

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The Spotlight on Boards

Martin Lipton is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton.

The ever evolving challenges facing corporate boards prompts an updated snapshot of what is expected from the board of directors of a major public company—not just the legal rules, but also the aspirational “best practices” that have come to have almost as much influence on board and company behavior.

Boards are expected to:

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The JOBS Act and Information Uncertainty in IPO Firms

The following post comes to us from Mary Barth, Professor of Accounting at Stanford University; Wayne Landsman, Professor of Accounting at the University of North Carolina; and Daniel Taylor, Assistant Professor of Accounting at the University of Pennsylvania.

In our paper, The JOBS Act and Information Uncertainty in IPO Firms, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we examine whether the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) increases information uncertainty in firms with initial public offerings (IPOs). The JOBS Act, which was signed into law in April 2012, creates a new category of issuer, the Emerging Growth Company (EGC), and eases regulations for EGCs to encourage initial public offerings of their shares. Specifically, the Act includes provisions that allow firms with EGC status to reduce the scope of mandatory disclosure of financial statement and executive compensation information, to file draft registration statements confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to delay application of new or revised accounting standards, and to delay compliance with Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which relates to auditor attestation on internal controls. We find evidence consistent with the easing of these regulations increasing information uncertainty in the IPO market.

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2014 IPO Study

The following post comes to us from Julie M. Allen, Partner in the Corporate Department and co-head of the Capital Markets Group at Proskauer Rose LLP, and is based on the Executive Summary of a Proskauer publication; the complete publication, including extensive analysis of multiple industry sectors, is available here.

Our study provides a comprehensive analysis of the 2013 US IPO market.

We examined several key aspects of IPOs, including:

  • The JOBS Act
  • Financial profiles and accounting disclosures
  • SEC comments and timing
  • Corporate governance
  • IPO expenses
  • Deal structure
  • Lock-ups
  • Sponsor-backed companies

We reviewed 100 of the 136 IPOs that priced in 2013 and met our study criteria.

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