Mergers & Acquisitions

According to the 2019 ABA Private Target M&A Deal Points Study, in the US 52% of purchase agreements examined included references to representation and warranty insurance (“RWI”)[1]. While this trend seems less pervasive in Canada, we are witnessing a growing trend where buyers and sellers are turning to RWI as an additional coverage to standard indemnity mechanisms. This trend, combined with a reduction in M&A activity in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to growing competition among insurers and increased negotiation power for parties seeking RWI. While some companies may struggle with a significant loss in share value, assets may still be valuable to potential buyers, resulting in an anticipated increase in asset-based transactions. In addition, the pandemic will surely give rise to an increase in distressed transactions with buyers turning to RWI as a source of protection for breaches in representations and warranties, including possibly fundamental representations and warranties. We have summarized below key insights and takeaways regarding the current RWI market in Canada to help parties when deciding which policy best fits their needs.


Continue Reading Diagnosing the impact of COVID-19 on representation and warranty insurance

The global coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on businesses and M&A activity worldwide.  In light of current events, companies negotiating deals and the lawyers penning the contracts are paying closer attention to the paperwork.  In particular, careful drafting and thoughtful consideration of the Material Adverse Change (MAC) and Material Adverse Effect (MAE) clauses in transaction agreements (see our previous posts on MAC provisions) and a potential Canadian court decision on MAC clauses (see our previous post of April 30, 2020 and May 7, 2020), as well as the target company’s covenants, representations and warranties and the buyer’s closing conditions related to such representations and warranties, have proven especially important in how parties have been responding to the onset of the pandemic.

In recent months, we have seen a number of attempts in the U.S. to terminate deals on the basis of the impact of the pandemic to target companies’ businesses.  
Continue Reading Terminations of M&A Transactions: Lessons Learned from Victoria’s Secret and WeWork

Further to our earlier post discussing COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change (“MAC”) provisions in mergers and acquisitions agreements and the hearing held last week in connection with an application for the final order (“Final Order Application”) in respect of the proposed plan of arrangement (the “Arrangement”) involving Rifco Inc. (“Rifco”), an alternative auto financing company

Further to our earlier post discussing COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change (“MAC”) provisions in M&A Agreements that addressed the lack of relevant Canadian court decisions and the associated uncertainty in their interpretation, Canadian capital market participants are watching with keen interest the dispute between Rifco Inc. (“Rifco”), an alternative auto financing company that trades on

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a fundamental question for M&A participants: does the outbreak of COVID-19 and the impact on a business constitute a “Material Adverse Change” (referred to as a “MAC”) under merger agreements? The answer is important because if the pandemic is a MAC, then buyers can typically walk away from a deal without penalty or legal exposure. On the other hand, if it is not a MAC and buyers try to walk the seller can seek damages and/or seek specific performance of the agreement to force the buyer to close.

The law on MACs

In Canada there is virtually no case law on what constitutes a MAC, so most M&A practitioners look to the jurisprudence from Delaware for assistance (where there are several thoughtful and well-articulated decisions). Not wanting to empower buyer’s remorse at the expense of public shareholders, Delaware courts have been extremely reluctant to find a MAC to have occurred. In fact, there is only one case in which a Delaware court has found a MAC and allowed a buyer to walk from a merger agreement. See our previous blog post for reference.

Although difficult to establish, the case law has focused on two key elements: that the adverse change is “material” and “durationally significant.” Put differently, a MAC needs to be much more than a short-term drop and essentially reflect a fundamental change in the business to be acquired.
Continue Reading COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change Provisions in M&A Agreements

Introduction

The Yukon Court of Appeal recently released its decision in Carlock v. ExxonMobil Canada Holdings ULC,[1] overturning the Supreme Court of Yukon’s unexpected decision to award dissenting shareholders a 43% premium over the negotiated deal price in ExxonMobil Canada Holdings ULC’s (“ExxonMobil”) acquisition of InterOil Corporation (“InterOil”) in 2017.

The Court of

The latest edition of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Canadian Private Mergers & Acquisitions Deal Points Study was released on December 19, 2019. The study focused on deals signed in 2016 and 2017. A number of members of the Fasken team were involved in the preparation of the study, including the authors of this post.

The ABA deal points studies have been cited in numerous court decisions and are a leading source in seeking to answer the dealmaker’s most basic question: what’s market?  This article highlights some of the key findings from the study and compares certain deal points to recent US studies.

Notwithstanding the importance of the study, readers should be mindful of the nature of the sample used before applying it too broadly. The agreements reviewed are sourced from the System for Electronic Documents and Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) maintained by Canadian securities regulatory authorities for reporting issuers. As result, the study necessarily reviews only a small portion of transactions completed during the relevant time period and is limited to Canadian private targets that are being acquired or sold by public companies. The latest study reviews just 90 agreements and is heavily skewed towards smaller deals (48% are under $50 million and 60% are under $100 million). That said, one of the biggest changes since the last Canadian study is the increase in deals over $200 million (up to 29% from 20% in the 2016 study). As a result of the how the transaction samples are developed for the study, 87% of the deals involved corporate buyers (unchanged from 2016 study) and only 6% involved private equity buyers (down from 10% in the 2016 study). 70% of deals in the study involved corporate sellers (71% in the 2016 study) and 9% involved private equity sellers (8% in the 2016 study).

Of note, the study shows that 21% of deals were in the oil & gas sector (up from 16% in the 2016 study and up from 8% in the 2014 study) and that 4% of deals were in the chemical & basic (natural) resources sector (down from 17% in each of the 2016 and 2014 studies).

Purchase Price Adjustments

The study shows a number of shifts in market practice with respect to post-closing purchase price adjustments. First, 79% of transactions include such an adjustment (up from 72%) with the vast majority of deals adjusting for working capital. Second, and somewhat puzzling, is that that the buyer prepares the first draft of the closing balance sheet in only 59% of deals (down from 76% in 2016 and 61% in 2014). That is in stark contrast to the US study, in which the buyer prepares the first draft of the closing balance sheet in 95% of deals. Some of the change might be attributable to data collection challenges, as 19 of the agreements reviewed did not specify who prepared the closing balance sheet. Finally, Canadian deals tend not to use earn-outs to bridge valuation gaps to the same degree as deals in the US (16% in Canada and 28% in the US), which is consistent with previous studies.


Continue Reading Latest Canadian ABA Private M&A Deal Points Study Released

In recent years, competition/antitrust enforcers around the world, including Canada, have taken a marked interest in private equity deals.  As part of a broader global trend of tougher merger enforcement, private equity firms that have taken ownership positions (controlling or minority) in portfolio companies that are competitors have been subject to heightened scrutiny.  The litigation and subsequent settlement in involving Canada’s Competition Bureau and Thoma Bravo is the most recent example.


Continue Reading Private Equity in the Cross-Hairs of the Competition Regulator: Lessons Learned from Thoma Bravo

Introduction

In a number of recent cases, Canadian courts have demonstrated a willingness to vest mining claims free of royalty rights notwithstanding that those rights might constitute interests in land. One such case before the courts in Ontario is Third Eye Capital Corporation v. Ressources Dianor Inc./Dianor Resources Inc.


Continue Reading Dianor Resolved – Jurisdiction to Vest Off Interests in Land in Receivership Upheld, but GORs Hard to Impair