Monthly Archives: April 2014

An Upturn in “Inversion” Transactions

Adam Emmerich is a partner in the corporate department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz focusing primarily on mergers and acquisitions and securities law matters. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton firm memorandum by Mr. Emmerich, Jodi J. Schwartz, and Igor Kirman.

Recently, there have been a growing number of large “inversion” transactions involving the migration of a U.S. corporation to a foreign jurisdiction through an M&A transaction. Inversion transactions come in several varieties, with the most common involving a U.S. company merging with a foreign target and redomiciling the combined company to the jurisdiction of the target.

While inversion transactions tend to have strong strategic rationales independent of tax considerations, the tax benefits can be significant. These benefits are varied but start with relatively high U.S. corporate tax rates and U.S. taxation of foreign earnings when repatriated to the U.S. Among other things, an inverted company may achieve a lower effective tax rate on future earnings, be able to access its non-U.S. cash reserves in a tax-efficient way, and have a more favorable profile for future acquisition activity.

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2014 Proxy Season: Early Indications

Richard J. Sandler is a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and co-head of the firm’s global corporate governance group. This post is based on a Davis Polk client memorandum.

It is still early days, but here is what we are seeing as the 2014 proxy season unfolds:

Institutional investors promote governance reforms and engagement efforts. Prior to the season Vanguard sent letters to S&P 500 companies seeking adoption of annual director elections, majority voting and the right of holders of 25% of the common stock to call special meetings. It was an unusually public move for a large institutional investor that, like others of its kind, tends to engage in quiet diplomacy. Also unusual was the call for universal adoption of this set of governance practices, in contrast to the case-by-case approach traditionally taken by institutional investors. It may signal that, at least on the governance side of these institutions, these practices are now viewed more as accepted norms than as just best practices. But there remains a disconnect between the governance and investment sides, as we continue to see institutional investors participate in IPOs for companies with none of these provisions.

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Public Compensation for Private Harm: SEC’s Fair Fund Distribution

The following post comes to us from Urska Velikonja of Emory University School of Law.

The SEC’s success is conventionally measured by the number of enforcement actions it brings, the multimillion-dollar fines it secures, and the high-impact trials it wins. But the SEC does more than punish wrongdoing. Over the last twelve years, the SEC has quietly become an important source of compensation for defrauded investors. Since 2002, the SEC has distributed $14.33 billion [1] to defrauded investors via 236 distribution funds, usually called “fair funds” after the statute that authorizes them. [2]

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Inversions—Upside for Acquisitions

Daniel Wolf is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis focusing on mergers and acquisitions. The following post is based on a Kirkland memorandum by Mr. Wolf and Todd F. Maynes.

With U.S. corporate tax rates among the highest in the world, U.S.-based companies with international operations regularly look for structuring opportunities to reduce the exposure of their overseas earnings to U.S. taxes. A recent trend driving deal activity is the prevalence of acquisition-related inversions whereby the acquiring company redomiciles to a lower-tax jurisdiction concurrently with completing the transaction. While not the exclusive driver, a significant benefit of these inversions is reducing the future tax exposure of the combined company. The tax rules applicable to these inversion transactions are inherently complex and situation-specific. Below, we outline some of the very general principles, as well as some of the opportunities and challenges presented by these transactions.

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Span of Control and Span of Attention

The following post comes to us from Oriana Bandiera, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); Andrea Prat, Professor of Economics at Columbia Business School; and Raffaella Sadun and Julie Wulf, both of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School.

In our paper, Span of Control and Span of Attention, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we use novel data to better understand the role of the CEO and the relationship to the executive team as represented by the CEO’s span of control. We collect detailed time use information for a large sample of CEOs and use it to characterize how CEOs allocate their time. We compare how this new and more comprehensive measure—span of attention—is related to the more traditional notion of span of control.

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Schedule 13D Ten-Day Window and Other Issues: Will the Pershing Square/Valeant Accumulation of a 9.7% Stake in Allergan Lead to Regulatory Action?

Victor Lewkow is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. This post is based on a Cleary Gottlieb memorandum by Mr. Lewkow and Christopher Austin that was issued on April 24, 2014.

As widely reported, a vehicle formed by Pershing Square and Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired just under 5% of Allergan’s shares after Allergan apparently rebuffed confidential efforts by Valeant to get Allergan to negotiate a potential acquisition. The Pershing Square/Valeant vehicle then crossed the 5% threshold and nearly doubled its stake (to 9.7%) over the next ten days, at which point it made the required Schedule 13D disclosures regarding the accumulation and Valeant’s plans to publicly propose an acquisition of Allergan. The acquisition program has raised a number of questions.

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US G-SIB Leverage Surcharge and Basel III Leverage Ratio

The following post comes to us from Luigi L. De Ghenghi and Andrew S. Fei, attorneys in the Financial Institutions Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and is based on a Davis Polk client memorandum; the full publication, including visuals, tables, and flowcharts, is available here.

The U.S. banking agencies have finalized higher leverage capital standards for the eight U.S. bank holding companies that have been identified as global systemically important banks (“U.S. G-SIBs”) and their insured depository institution (“IDI”) subsidiaries. The agencies also proposed important changes to the denominator of the U.S. Basel III supplementary leverage ratio (“SLR”). A number of these proposed changes are intended to implement the Basel Committee’s January 2014 revisions to the Basel III leverage ratio.

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Council of Institutional Investors Presses SEC for Guidance on Interim Vote Tallies

Amy Goodman is a partner and co-chair of the Securities Regulation and Corporate Governance practice group at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The following post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Ms. Goodman, Elizabeth A. Ising, and James Moloney.

Last May, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., the provider of proxy services for over 90% of public companies and mutual funds in North America (“Broadridge”), decided to end its established practice of providing interim vote tallies (sometimes referred to as “preliminary voting results”) to proponents of shareholder proposals. Following this change in practice, the Council of Institutional Investors (“CII”) sent a letter to the SEC asking the Commission to reverse Broadridge’s change in practice. Later in July, Broadridge reviewed its decision, promising to “continue to monitor developments on th[e] issue” and noting that it is contractually obligated to follow client directions regarding release of interim vote tallies.

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A New Takeover Threat: Symbiotic Activism

Trevor Norwitz is a partner in the Corporate Department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and securities law matters. The following post is based on a Wachtell Lipton firm memorandum by Martin Lipton, Adam O. Emmerich, Mr. Norwitz, and Sabastian V. Niles.

The Pershing Square-Valeant hostile bid for Allergan has captured the imagination. Other companies are wondering whether they too will wake up one morning to find a raider-activist tag-team wielding a stealth block of their stock. Serial acquirers are asking whether they should be looking to take advantage of this new maneuver. Speculation and rumor abound of other raider-activist pairings and other targets.

Questions of legality are also being raised. Pershing Square and Valeant are loudly proclaiming that they have very cleverly (and profitably) navigated their way through a series of loopholes to create a new template for hostile acquisitions, one in which the strategic bidder cannot lose and the activist greatly increases its odds of catalyzing a quick profit-yielding event, investing and striking deals on both sides of a transaction in advance of a public announcement.

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Performance Terms in CEO Compensation Contracts

The following post comes to us from David De Angelis of the Finance Area at Rice University and Yaniv Grinstein of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

CEO compensation in U.S. public firms has attracted a great deal of empirical work. Yet our understanding of the contractual terms that govern CEO compensation and especially how the compensation committee ties CEO compensation to performance is still incomplete. The main reason is that CEO compensation contracts are, in general, not observable. For the most part, firms disclose only the realized amounts that their CEOs receive at the end of any given year. The terms by which the board determines these amounts are not fully disclosed.

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