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viernes, 4 de junio de 2010

La nueva "poison pill"

In 2007 Amylin Pharmaceuticals issued 3.00% convertible senior notes due 2014. The Note Indenture gives the noteholders the right to demand redemption of any or all of their notes at face value upon the occurrence of "Fundamental Change," which occurs, among other time, when “the Continuing Directors do not constitute a majority of the Company’s Board of Directors . . . .” The Indenture defines “Continuing Directors” as follows: (i) individuals who on the Issue Date constituted the Board of Directors and (ii) any new directors whose election to the Board of Directors or whose nomination for election by the stockholders of the Company was approved by at least a majority of the directors then still in office (or a duly constituted committee thereof) either who were directors on the Issue Date or whose election or nomination for election was previously so approved.

Este resumen lo hemos tomado de aquí

Y el juez, tras decir que la cláusula era válida, dice
This case does highlight the troubling reality that corporations and their counsel routinely negotiate contract terms that may, in some circumstances, impinge on the free exercise of the stockholder franchise. In the context of the negotiation of a debt instrument, this is particularly troubling, for two reasons. First, as a matter of course, there are few events which have the potential to be more catastrophic for a corporation than the triggering of an event of default under one of its debt agreements. Second, the board, when negotiating with rights that belong first and foremost to the stockholders (i.e., the stockholder franchise), must be especially solicitous to its duties both to the corporation and to its stockholders. This is never more true than when negotiating with debtholders, whose interests at times may be directly adverse to those of the stockholders. Outside counsel advising a board in such circumstances should be especially mindful of the board’s continuing duties to the stockholders to protect their interests. Specifically, terms which may affect the stockholders’ range of discretion in exercising the franchise should, even if considered customary, be highlighted to the board. In this way, the board will be able to exercise its fully informed business judgment

La sentencia la hemos tomado de aquí.Del caso, nos hemos enterado aquí

Lo interesante. En primer lugar, que la medida anti-OPA se refiera, no ya al supuesto de que un pretendiente hostil se haga con una participación significativa en el capital de la compañía y amenace, de esa forma, con hacerse con el control y destituir a los administradores, sino que refuerce el control de los administradores sobre la composición del Consejo. La cláusula, al obligar a la compañía a pagar inmediatamente la deuda representada en la emisión correspondiente, dificulta los cambios que se producen, no mediante la adquisición de la mayoría del capital, sino mediante la agrupación del voto de los accionistas dispersos lograda a través de un mecanismo como la solicitud pública de representación, esto es, dirigiéndose a los accionistas de la sociedad, no para que vendan sus acciones al que pretende el control, sino para que les deleguen su voto en la junta. Las disputas por las delegaciones de voto (proxy fights) no conducirán a un cambio en la gestión si los que la emprenden han de temer que el valor de las acciones baje al tener que devolverse la deuda anticipadamente. 

También es llamativo que el Juez apele a los deberes profesionales de los abogados que incluyen estas cláusulas en los contratos de emisión de deuda ¿cómo puede decirse que una cláusula semejante beneficia a la compañía que emite la deuda? Sería interesante saber si, en contratos de este tipo que se negocien con los acreedores, éstos insisten en incluir una cláusula semejante.

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