A year following the Delaware Chancery Court’s decision in Multiplan Corp. Stockholders Litigation (f/k/a Churchill Capital Corp III), the court again issued an opinion supporting a breach of fiduciary duty cause of action against SPAC directors and sponsors and confirming that a de-SPAC transaction should be reviewed using the “entire fairness” standard. In the January 2023 case of Delman v. Gigacquisitions3, LLC, et al. the Delaware Court denied a motion to dismiss by SPAC sponsors and directors, upholding their potential liability. Interestingly, the Delman motion was in front of the same vice-chancellor as was Multiplan. My blog on the Multiplan Corp. Stockholders Litigation (f/k/a Churchill Capital Corp III) case and its ramifications can be read HERE.
In addition to confirming the inherent conflict of interest of SPAC sponsors and directors, the cases will undoubtedly cause practitioners and market participants to implement new policies and procedures related to proxy statement disclosures, diligence, board discussions, financial valuations, capital raising
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the Garfield v. Boxed, Inc. case in Delaware questioning whether Class A and Class B common stock in a SPAC structure were different series of a same class or different classes of stock requiring separate class voting in certain circumstances (see HERE). The Delaware Chancery court in Garfield v. Boxed, found that in that particular case, the Class A and Class B were separate classes requiring a separate class vote to increase the total outstanding common stock as required by the Delaware General Corporate Law (DGCL) Section 242(b)(2).
Following the Garfield decision, there has been a run on the Chancery Court by post-business-combination SPACs seeking to ratify shareholder approvals obtained during the de-SPAC process, in reliance on DGCL Section 205. Although the wording has varied, in essence each of the companies have asked the Chancery court to (i) validate and declare effective the company’s current certificate of incorporation
In December 2022, the Delaware Chancery Court entered a ruling sending the SPAC world spiraling, for what seems like the 10th time in the last couple of years. As is always the case in a SPAC (or at least 99% of the time), common stock is broken into two series, Class A and Class B. The Class A common stock is issued to the public shareholders in the underwritten initial public offering and the Class B common stock is issued to the sponsor. Upon closing a business combination transaction, the sponsor Class B common stock automatically converts into Class A common stock, leaving one Class of common stock. Also, in the majority of SPAC transactions, the shareholder approval for the business combination transaction involves other changes to the charter documents for the SPAC, including a name change, and changes in authorized capital stock, etc. The term “charter” in this blog refers to the certificate of incorporation and any amendments
On March 30, 2022, the SEC proposed rules related to SPAC and de-SPAC transactions including significantly enhanced disclosure obligations including related to financial projections, making a target company a co-registrant when a SPAC files an S-4 or F-4 registration statement associated with a business combination, and aligning de-SPAC transactions with initial public offering rules. In addition, the SEC has also proposed rules that would deem any business combination transaction involving a reporting shell company, including but not limited to a SPAC, to involve a sale of securities to the reporting shell company’s shareholders. The new rules would amend a number of financial statement requirements applicable to transactions involving shell companies.
In addition, the SEC has proposed a new safe harbor under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (‘40 Act’) that would provide that a SPAC that satisfies the conditions of the proposed rule would not be an investment company and therefore would not be subject to regulation under the