Mergers & Acquisitions

In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC to divest its 23 percent interest in Unimark Remedies, Ltd. and its US marketing rights to a generic drug under manufacture by Unimark as a condition to allowing Hikma to complete its acquisition of Roxane Laboratories. The FTC was concerned that Hikma’s continued holding of a 23 percent interest in Unimark after consummation of its proposed acquisition of Roxane would create the incentive and ability for Hikma to eliminate future competition between Roxane and Hikma/Unimark in the sale of generic flecainide tablets (a drug used to treat abnormally fast heart rhythms) in the United States.

Read the full article.

In the last two years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) brought, and won, several litigated merger cases by establishing narrow markets comprised of a subset of customers for a product. This narrow market theory, known as price discrimination market definition, allowed the agencies to allege markets in which the merging parties faced few rivals and, therefore, estimate high post-merger market shares.

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division have been actively challenging mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across a variety of industries where there is not a viable or acceptable remedy to mitigate the agencies’ competitive concerns. Parties to M&A transactions that the FTC or the DOJ believe are likely to harm competition may remedy those concerns by divesting certain businesses or assets.

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McDermott Will & Emery has released the October 2015 issue of Inside M&A, which focuses on current issues surrounding special-purpose acquisition companies. Articles in this issue include:

Overview of SPACs and Latest Trends
A number of recent successful business combination transactions involving special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) led by prominent sponsors have driven a resurgence in the SPAC inital public offering (IPO) market and an evolution in some SPAC terms. In this article, we provide an overview of SPACs and discuss the latest trends in SPAC structures and terms.

Creative Business Combination Structures Allow SPACs to Successfully Compete with Non-SPAC Bidders
Certain structural features of SPACs that offer benefits to their public investors often put SPACs at a competitive dis-advantage when they are among multiple bidders for a target company. Recent SPAC business combination transactions demonstrate, however, that careful structuring of a transaction to meet the needs of the target’s owners can overcome these structural challenges and level the playing field for SPACs in a competitive bidding process.

SPAC Directors Cannot Take the Protection of the Business Judgment Rule for Granted
A recent decision by the New York State Supreme Court’s Commercial Division—in AP Services, LLP v. Lobell, et al., No. 651613/12—suggests that certain structural terms of SPACs may make it more challenging for the business judgment rule to apply to decisions by SPAC directors to enter into agreements for business combination transactions.

View the full issue (PDF).

The latest analysis by PitchBook would indicate buyout activity is trending down as deal volume and values continue to slide from recent quarters. In the latest report, the triggers for the current market is discussed covering EBITA multiples, debt levels and valuations, as well as where opportunities exist based on the transactional activities of private equity funds.

Read the PitchBook report.

 

McDermott Will & Emery recently published its latest issue of International News, which covers a range of legal developments of interest to those operating internationally. This issue focuses on Private Equity.

Read the full issue.

Focus on Private Equity

The Impact of Regulatory Changes on Private Equity Firms

Taking Advantage of the Consequences of Delisting or Downlisting in Germany

Equity Bridge Facilities and the French Private Equity Market

Will Private Equity Bet on the Price of Oil?

International investors with corporate transactions in Germany are often surprised to learn that significant costs can be incurred by a German notary as part of a normal corporate transaction.  The involvement of a German notary is in many cases required by law, and the corresponding costs for such notary are set by the German federal statutory cost order (Gerichts- und Notarkostengesetz – GNotKG) with certain caps, however, amounting up to EUR 53,170.  A recent change in the German federal statutory cost order for notaries has increased these costs.

In practice, structures can be modified to save notarial fees without any material deviations of the transaction documents.  For instance, international transaction documents are drafted often as bilingual documents. Under the changes in the new statutory cost order, the value of bilingual documents has increased by 30 percent.  It is worth considering if such translated documents should necessarily become a part of the notarial deed at all or if they may be attached as a non-binding convenience translation to save costs.  In addition, a choice of law clause, which leads to another 30 percent increase in the value of the transaction and unexpectedly higher notary costs, may be (and sometimes even has to be) avoided.

The notarial deed may also incorporate legal issues that increase costs but that do not have to be notarized at all.  Provided that this does not affect the completeness of the notarial deed, certain provisions that would trigger further notary costs (for example, a choice of law clause) can be separated from the notarial deed.  In addition, other legal facts that have to be notarized may be incorporated in one deed instead of two separate ones, thus saving costs as the German federal statutory cost order reduces the overall costs in a percentage basis the higher they are.  Certain transactions such as sales and transfers, or pledges of shares in a GmbH, can also be notarized by a Swiss notary, whose costs can be substantially lower than a German notary´s costs.

In sum, (international) investors should carefully consider ways to avoid increasing notarial fees when entering into corporate transactions in Germany.

International companies with operations in France, or those that conduct regular business with French commercial partners, should be aware that their longtime French commercial partners could be entitled to claim compensation for the termination of the contractual relationship well beyond the scope of the original contractual provisions.

However, recent decisions of the French Supreme Court suggest that judges increasingly take into consideration the existence of economic difficulties as acceptable justification for the termination.

The French Commercial Code provides that the total or partial termination of any kind of longstanding commercial relationship may be qualified as abusive if insufficient notice of termination is given to the contractual partner.  This law, considered as a mandatory public policy statute, applies to all existing commercial relationships.  As a result, a company that terminates a contractual relationship with a French commercial partner must not only consider the contractual notice period, but must also take into account the notion of “reasonable” notice and the criteria developed by the French courts to be able to fully gauge any potential future claims for compensation against it.

In deciding what the appropriate duration of a “reasonable” notice is and the resulting adequate compensation for the terminated party, French case law provides a rule of thumb: three months is usually acceptable when the commercial relationship between the two companies lasted between two and three years; six months in cases in which the contractual relationship between the commercial parties was longer; and even longer notice periods exceeding 12 months can be accepted under French case law when the terminated party was financially dependent on its terminated partner.  Courts then assess the amount of damages based on the loss of profit that the terminated party should have made during the missing months of the “reasonable” notice period.

How can foreign companies mitigate this risk?  To mitigate the risk of a contractual termination being considered as abusive by French courts, companies should try to manage the expectations of their commercial partners and inform them of any potential complete or partial termination of their commercial relationship in writing, well before the contemplated date of termination.  By providing its commercial partner with such information in advance, it will serve to weaken any potential claims for compensation brought by the French commercial partner that was terminated.

If the termination results from the closure of a site, the timing for providing such information is, however, limited by French employment law, which requires a consultation of employee representatives before the decision to close facilities may be made.  Accordingly, it is highly advisable for an international company to consult with legal counsel to ascertain the best approach for handling such a situation.

Nevertheless, the French Supreme Court seems to be increasingly aware that companies face economic circumstances beyond their control, which make terminating the commercial relationship imperative.  As a result, under the recent case law of the French Supreme Court, a termination subsequent to a substantial decrease in the volume of orders may not be considered as abusive if the terminating party is able to provide sufficient evidence of a diminished commercial activity and if the external reasons bring about such a decrease in the volume of orders.

Accordingly, if the termination of the commercial relationship results from the closure of a site, which itself is due to economic difficulties, the international company should make clear in the notice it sends to its commercial partner, that the termination was not a deliberate choice but was necessary due to external economic conditions.