In late October the SEC issued its first updated Staff Legal Bulletin on shareholder proposals in years – Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14H (“SLB 14H”). Please see my blog on SLB 14H HERE. On the same day the SEC published two new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“C&DI”) related to the unbundling of matters presented for a vote to shareholders in merger and acquisition transactions. The new C&DI has in essence granted voting rights to target company shareholders, on acquiring company organizational documents, where none existed before and has in essence pre-empted state law on the issue.
Unbundling under Rule 14a-4(a)(3) in the M&A Context
Exchange Act Rule 14a-4 relates to the requirements for a proxy card general. Rule 14a-4(a) provides:
(a) The form of proxy:
(1) Shall indicate in bold-face type whether or not the proxy is solicited on behalf of the registrant’s board of directors or, if provided other than by a majority of the board
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Generally a name change is completed through an amendment to a company’s articles of incorporation. Moreover, amendments to articles of incorporation generally require shareholder consent, which can be time-consuming and expensive and become even more so if the company is subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
All companies with securities registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, (i.e., through the filing of a Form 10 or Form 8-A) are subject to the Exchange Act proxy requirements found in Section 14 and the rules promulgated thereunder. The proxy rules govern the disclosure in materials used to solicit shareholders’ votes in annual or special meetings held for the approval of any corporate action requiring shareholder approval. The information contained in proxy materials must be filed with the SEC in advance of any solicitation to ensure compliance with the disclosure