Mergers & Acquisitions

Introduction

Recently, the Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”) released its reasons for a September order dismissing an application for exemptive relief from the minimum tender requirement under Canada’s securities take-over bid regime.[1] ESW Capital, LLC (“ESW”), the largest shareholder of Optiva Inc. (“Optiva”), sought the relief in connection with

The author wishes to thank Gilles Leclerc for his advice and contributions.

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” This quote from Estragon, one of the main characters in Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot”, summarizes well the previous year from an economic and social perspective. Today, while the hopes of a vaccine rollout and economic recovery are looming on the horizon,
the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a material adverse impact on our economy. It poses widespread challenges for many businesses, including challenges in reporting and disclosing the effect of Covid-19 to investors.

In a series of bulletins[1] published last year, we highlighted the guidance provided by both the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA“) and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission relating to the continuous disclosure obligations of public issuers in the context of Covid-19. On February 25, 2021,  CSA issued Staff Notice 51-362 (the “Staff Notice“) to report the results of  their review of the disclosure provided by reporting issuers on the impact of Covid-19 on their business. CSA examined the filings of approximately 90 issuers
Continue Reading Continuous Disclosure Obligations in Times of a Continuous Pandemic: Canadian Securities Regulators’ Review of Issuers’ Disclosure

The Competition Bureau announced the 2021 transaction-size pre-merger notification threshold under the Competition Act is decreasing to C$93 million, effective February 13, 2021. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada also announced new, lower foreign investment review thresholds under the Investment Canada Act, effective January 1, 2021.

These thresholds are adjusted annually based on GDP formulas.

On January 14, 2021, Laurel Hill Advisory Group (“Laurel Hill”) and Fasken hosted a webinar on ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations of which companies should be aware for the upcoming 2021 proxy season. The webinar’s panelists were David Salmon of Laurel Hill and Emilie Bundock, Stephen Erlichman and Grant McGlaughlin of Fasken and was moderated by Gordon Raman of Fasken. Set out below are some of the comments made by the speakers on the webinar.

Background

The importance of ESG considerations in today’s corporate governance model has developed over the past 50 years.  In the early 1970’s the Milton Friedman view of corporations was the dominant business mindset.  In a forceful New York Times article he said that business leaders that “believed business is not concerned ‘merely’ with profit but also with promoting desirable ‘social’ ends …[were]… preaching pure and unadulterated socialism”.  Since that time, certainly in North America,  corporations have assumed a central role in the growth of economies.  With that central role has come the recognition that corporations play a greater role in society, as noted in 2017 by Larry Fink, the head of Blackrock.  In his annual letter to CEOs he wrote: “ To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
Continue Reading Proxy Season Preview 2021: ESG Considerations

Several months ago we asked whether a COVID-19-related impact on a business might constitute a “Material Adverse Change” (referred to as a “MAC,” or a material adverse effect, “MAE”) under merger agreements, and we noted the near complete absence of case law on the issue in Canada (see: “COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change Provisions

Further to our earlier post discussing COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change (“MAC”) provisions in merger and acquisition agreements, and the procedural ruling in respect of the dispute involving Rifco Inc. (“Rifco”), ACC Holdings Inc. (“Purchaser”), and the Purchaser’s parent company, CanCap Management Inc. (“CanCap”), each of Rifco, the Purchaser and CanCap, (collectively, the “Parties”) settled

The Deal 

On December 15, 2019, United Kingdom-based Cineworld Group plc (“Cineworld”), the second largest cinema chain worldwide, entered into an arrangement agreement (the “Arrangement Agreement”) with Cineplex Inc. (“Cineplex”) whereby Cineworld would acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Cineplex for $34 per share in cash, representing a premium of 42% to

What is CSIS?

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (“CSIS”) is Canada’s principal national intelligence service. CSIS investigates actions believed to constitute a threat to the security and safety of Canada. Arguably, CSIS’ role is even greater given the population’s need to trust and rely on its national intuitions, including its security and intelligence, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  CSIS’ uniquely defensive purpose is to monitor, collect and investigate Canada’s security threats, including economic espionage and foreign-influenced activities.

Canadian Intelligence Service’s 2019 Public Report

On May 20, 2020, CSIS issued a statement in connection with the recent release of its 2019 Public Report (“Report”).  The Report aims to provide, amongst other things, a summary of the threats to Canada and its national interests.  As globalization continues to dominate, the global community, including the potential threats that it may pose to national security, has a wider reach on Canadian businesses and Canadian life generally.

The Report discusses many topics relevant to Canada in 2018/2019, including the current state of terrorism and violent extremism and the ongoing need to protect democratic institutions, but the area of focus here is CSIS’ review as it relates to foreign investment and Canada’s economic security.
Continue Reading CSIS cautions on foreign investment’s potentially negative impact to Canadian businesses and economic security; tighter rules for foreign investment

We have been tracking the impact of Material Adverse Change (MAC) and Material Adverse Effect (MAE) clauses on M&A transactions and how parties to certain M&A transactions are navigating the issues surrounding the termination of transactions in the context of changing business realities due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Another recent case involves Juweel Investors Limited (“Juweel”), the owner of the company carrying on the business of American Express Global Business Travel (“GBT”), a corporate global business travel enterprise with over 10,000 clients in more than 140 countries.  In its complaint filed in the Court of Chancery in Delaware on May 11, 2020,  Juweel sought an expedited trial to obtain an order to compel several entities related to The Carlyle Group Inc. (“Carlyle”) and GIC (Ventures) Pte. Ltd (through Pure Magenta Investment Pte Ltd.) (collectively, “GIC”, and together with Carlyle, the “Purchasers”) to complete a transaction in which the Purchasers had agreed to acquire an ownership interest in GBT.

The transactions contemplated by the Share Purchase Agreement, dated December 16, 2019 (“SPA”), were scheduled to close on May 7, 2020.  As was seen in the Victoria’s Secret case reported on in our earlier post, the Purchasers claim that there was an MAE[1] and that GBT failed to comply with interim operating covenants between signing and closing by not operating in the ordinary course of business.
Continue Reading Terminations of M&A Transactions: Lessons Learned from American Express Global Business Travel