Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Mergers & Acquisitions

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Google Inc. and On2 Technologies, Inc. entered into a merger agreement in 2009. Thereafter, Plaintiff brought a class action on behalf of himself and other similarly situated On2 shareholders, alleging that On2’s board of directors had breached its fiduciary duty to its shareholders. Plaintiffs subsequently agreed with One2 and its directors to settle all claims with respect to the merger. After a hearing, Supreme Court found the settlement to be fair and in the best interest of the class members but refused to approve the settlement because it did not afford out-of-state class members of the opportunity to opt out, thereby prohibiting class members from pursuing any individual claims that are separate and apart from the class settlement. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the lower courts properly refused to approve the proposed settlement because the settlement would deprive out-of-state class members of a cognizable property interest. View "Jiannaras v. Alfant" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Defendant Kenneth Cole proposed a going-private merger of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. that was subject to approval by both a special committee of independent directors and a majority of the minority shareholders. Several shareholders, including Plaintiff, commenced separate class actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty by Cole and the directors. Although the shareholder vote occurred after an amended complaint was filed, 99.8 percent of the minority shareholders voted in favor of the merger. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff sought a judgment declaring that Cole and the directors had breached the fiduciary duties they owed to the minority shareholders, an award of damages to the class, and a judgment enjoining the merger. Supreme Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) in reviewing challenges to going-private mergers, New York courts should apply the business judgment rule as long as certain shareholder-protective conditions are present; (2) if those measures are not present, the entire fairness standard should be applied; and (3) applying that standard to this case, the courts below properly determined that Plaintiff’s allegations did not withstand Defendants’ motions to dismiss. View "In re Kenneth Cole Prods., Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner and Ajmal Khan, principal of Verus Investment Holdings, purchased securities in a company to arbitrage a merger between that company and another company (the trade). Petitioner and Khal used Verus' account at Jefferies & Co. and Winton Capital Holding to complete the purchase. After the merger, Jefferies wired to Verus the original investment and profits attributable to the Winton funds. Verus wired the investment money to Winton and the profits to Doris Lindbergh, a friend of Petitioner. Tax authorities later informed Jefferies it owed withholding tax on the trade. Pursuant to an arbitration clause in an agreement between Jefferies and Verus, Jefferies commenced an arbitration against Verus for the unpaid taxes. Verus, in turn, asserted thirty-party arbitration claims against Petitioner, Lindbergh, and others for their share of the taxes. After a hearing, Supreme Court determined that nonsignatories Petitioner and Lindbergh could not be compelled to arbitrate. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Petitioner should be estopped from avoiding arbitration because he knowingly exploited and received direct benefits from the agreement between Jefferies and Verus. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Petitioner did not receive a direct benefit from the arbitration agreement and could not be compelled to arbitrate. View "Belzberg v. Verus Invs. Holdings Inc." on Justia Law