Monthly Archives: May 2014

Bebchuk and Coates Articles Selected Among the Top Ten Corporate and Securities Articles of 2013

This year’s list of the Ten Best Corporate and Securities Articles, selected by an annual poll of corporate and securities law academics, includes two selections from Harvard Law faculty associated with the Program on Corporate Governance: Professor Lucian Bebchuk and Professor John Coates.

The top ten articles were selected from a field of 550 pieces. Professor Robert Thompson of Georgetown Law School conducted the annual poll, and the selected articles will be reprinted in an upcoming issue of the Corporate Practice Commentator.


Open Sesame? Not for now, Alibaba

The following post comes to us from John Chrisman, partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP specializing in mergers & acquisitions and capital markets, and is based on a Dorsey publication by Mr. Chrisman, Eden McMahon, and David Richardson; the full text, including footnotes, is available here.

For months Alibaba Group Holding Limited (“Alibaba”) had tried to convince the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (“SEHK”) that they should open their doors to the internet giant. Alibaba had proposed a system through which a handpicked group of “partners” would nominate a majority of its board. At the time, commentators rushed to report that Alibaba was seeking to implement a dual share class structure, threatening investor protections. Alibaba had offered an alternative take and tried to convince the public that there was no story at all: their proposed partnership structure merely offered an “alternative view of good corporate governance”. Charles Li, the Chief Executive of the SEHK was meanwhile hearing voices from all sides in his dreams.


What Will Result From the SEC’s Current Disclosure Reform Initiative?

The following post comes to us from Betty Moy Huber, co-head of the Environmental Group in the Corporate Department of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and is based on an article by Ms. Huber that first appeared in the American Bar Association’s Environmental Disclosure Committee newsletter.

The SEC is in the midst of what could be a sweeping reform of its disclosure regime. During the course of this year, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, or Corp Fin, will be seeking broad input from companies and investors on how the SEC can improve its disclosure rules. This initiative follows on Corp Fin’s lengthy December 2013 report on this topic. Arguably, the SEC’s disclosure reform initiative could not have come at a better time for sustainability and environmental groups who have been working for years to achieve better corporate sustainability disclosure. These groups are savvy, dedicated, and have trillions of institutional investor (and other) dollars backing them. With social media, they have become well organized and effective advocates for their cause. In addition, investment banks are taking note and becoming interested in better and more uniform sustainability disclosure in their capacity as underwriters as well as investors themselves. Further, shareholder proponents have submitted a record number of environmental and sustainability shareholder proposals in recent proxy seasons. But will these sustainability groups succeed in finding common ground with the SEC and, if necessary, convince the SEC that sustainability issues are material or otherwise a priority?


Investors Buying Stock in NFL Player through First Fantex IPO

The following post comes to us from Brian Korn, of counsel in the Corporate and Securities Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP, and is based on a Pepper Hamilton publication by Mr. Korn and Andrew D. Kupchik.

On April 28, 2014, shares of Fantex, Inc. (Fantex), which are linked to the performance and earnings of Vernon Davis, star tight end of the San Francisco 49ers, were sold to the public. Other professional football players for whom Fantex has filed initial public offering (IPO) registration statements include quarterback EJ Manuel of the Buffalo Bills and running back Arian Foster of the Houston Texans.

What Is Fantex?

Fantex is an online securities exchange that is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

How Does Fantex Work?


The PCAOB Proposed Auditor’s Reporting Model

Alan L. Beller is a partner focusing on complex securities, corporate governance and corporate matters at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. This post is based on Mr. Beller’s testimony at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) public hearing in Washington, D.C. on proposed enhancements to the auditor’s reporting model; the complete text is available here. The views expressed in his testimony are based on his knowledge and experience as both a government official and a legal advisor to private clients.

The proposed enhancements to the auditor’s reporting model would be the first change to the standards in more than 70 years. Furthermore, they could significantly impact the content and format of auditors’ reports; the treatment of that information by investors and other users of financial statements; and the relationship and structure of interactions among management, audit committees and auditors as they have developed since the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.


Do Freezeouts Affect the Performance of the Controlling Shareholder?

The following post comes to us from Fernan Restrepo of Stanford Law School.

Some works in the literature on mergers and acquisitions suggest that mergers do not generate any efficiency for the acquirer and that, in fact, they have a negative effect on operating performance. This work examines whether freezeouts (that is, transactions in which a controlling shareholder acquires the remaining shares of a corporation for cash or stock) also produce a negative effect on the performance of the acquirer.

On a theoretical level, there are legitimate reasons to think that freezeouts should not generate any significant efficiency for the controlling shareholder, especially because, after completing the deal, he maintains control over the same assets he was already controlling before. From this perspective, the only gain arising from a freezeout is the savings in regulatory costs associated with the public status of the target, without much room for significant synergies. Moreover, it is possible that the reduction in public monitoring of the target that results from a freezeout could not only translate into long-term losses for that company, but also affect negatively the controlling shareholder in an indirect way. In this sense, a freezeout could actually be expected to lead to drops in the controlling shareholder’s operating performance.


Curbing Short-Termism in Corporate America: Focus on Executive Compensation

Robert Pozen is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The protest against short termism in corporate America is rising. Business and political leaders are decrying the emphasis on quarterly results—which they claim is preventing corporations from making long-term investments needed for sustainable growth.

However, these critics of short termism have a skewed view of the facts and there are logical flaws in their arguments. Moreover, their proposals would dramatically cut back on shareholder rights to hold companies accountable.

The critics of short termism stress how much the average daily share volume has increased over the last few decades. Although this is factually correct, this sharp average increase is caused primarily by a tremendous rise in intraday trading.


Shareholder Value Enhanced Through Sufficient Time to Generate Alternative Transaction

The following post comes to us from Berl Nadler, partner at Davies, Ward, Phillips & Vineberg LLP, and is based on a Davies publication by Kevin J. Thomson and Peter Hong.

On April 2, 2014, Osisko Mining Corporation announced a superior alternative to Goldcorp Inc.’s unsolicited offer for Osisko in the form of a partnership with Yamana Gold Inc. resulting in Osisko’s shareholders receiving cash and share consideration with an implied value representing a 22% premium to Goldcorp’s offer. This transaction was announced 79 days after Goldcorp announced its intention to launch its unsolicited offer.


Can We Do Better by Ordinary Investors? A Pragmatic Reaction to the Dueling Ideological Mythologists of Corporate Law

The following post is based on a recent Columbia Law Review article, earlier issued as a working paper of the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance, by Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court and a Senior Fellow of the Program. The article, Can We Do Better by Ordinary Investors? A Pragmatic Reaction to the Dueling Ideological Mythologists of Corporate Law, is available here. The article is a response essay to an earlier Columbia Law Review article by Professor Lucian Bebchuk, available here and discussed on the Forum here.

Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court Review and a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance, recently published in the Columbia Law Review a response essay to an essay by Professor Lucian Bebchuk published in the Columbia Law Review several months earlier. Professor Bebchuk’s essay, The Myth that Insulating Boards Serves Long-Term Value, is available here and was featured on the Forum here. Chief Justice Strine’s essay, titled Can We Do Better by Ordinary Investors? A Pragmatic Reaction to the Dueling Ideological Mythologists of Corporate Law, is available here.

The abstract of Chief Justice Strine’s essay summarizes it briefly as follows:


Quack Corporate Governance, Round III?

The following post comes to us from Luca Enriques at LUISS Guido Carli University Department of Law and the European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI), and Dirk Zetzsche at the University of Liechtenstein and Director of the Center for Business & Corporate Law at Heinrich Heine University.

Like in the US, European policy-makers have taken a number of measures as a reaction to the financial crisis, some of which address corporate governance issues of credit institutions and investment firms (hereafter collectively referred to as “banks”). Other than in the U.S., however, and more consistently with the financial origins of the crisis, very little has made its way into legislation that applies to non-financial corporations.


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