The so-called “Bump-Up” Exclusion found in many D&O insurance policies excludes coverage for claims alleging that the insured company, as the acquiror, underpaid or sought to underpay for the acquisition of a target company. However, in a recent decision following a bench trial, in which the court interpreted an exclusion that arguably applied to preclude coverage whether or not the insured company was the acquiror or the acquisition target, the court held that the exclusion unambiguously precluded coverage for the settlement of a claim that the directors of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, the insured company, had breached their duties by accepting an inadequate amount for the sale of their company. EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was revised on February 12, 2023. Continue Reading Exclusion Bars Coverage for Insured Company’s Acquisition Underpayment
In the following guest post, Sarah Abrams, Head of Professional Liability Claims at Bowhead Specialty Underwriters, takes a look at the implications for D&O insurers of the growing investment interest of private equity firms in the healthcare sector. I would like to thank Sarah for allowing me to publish her article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: As Private Equity Healthcare Investments Grow, Will D&O Liability Exposure Increase?
As I have noted in prior posts (most recently here), one of the most significant recent securities litigation trends has been the number of filings against post-SPAC-merger publicly traded companies. In the latest of these SPAC-related suit filings, last week a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities class action lawsuit against Arquit Quantum, a U.K.-based cybersecurity firm that merged with a SPAC in September 2021. Though this latest lawsuit is in many ways representative of the emerging SPAC-related securities litigation, it also has some distinct features as well, as discussed further below. A copy of the May 6, 2022 complaint in the case can be found here.
Continue Reading U.K-Based Cybersecurity Firm Hit with SPAC-Related Securities Suit
As I have noted elsewhere on this site (for example here), the number of federal court merger objection class action lawsuits declined significantly during 2021. But as I and others have also noted, the decline in class actions had not necessarily meant less merger objection litigation overall. The merger objection suits are still being filed; they are just being filed as individual actions rather than as class actions. In the following article, Gregory Markel, Vincent Sama, Daphne Morduchowitz, Andrew Escobar, and Matthew Catalano of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm take a closer look at these changing merger objection lawsuit patterns and discuss the implications. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Plaintiffs’ Abusive Tax on M&A Deals Changed Form But Continued in 2021
Several years ago, when it became clear that plaintiffs’ lawyers were going to file merger objection lawsuits in connection with essentially every M&A transaction, the D&O insurers responded by adding a separate, larger retention for M&A-related claims. The larger M&A-related claim retention quickly became pretty much a standard feature of public company D&O insurance policies. However, because the M&A claim retention is in many instances substantially larger than the retention that would otherwise apply, the question of whether the larger retention applies to a particular claim can be a significant one. In a recent case, the Delaware Superior Court addressed a D&O insurance coverage dispute in which, among other things, the insurers and the policyholder disagreed on whether the larger M&A-related claim retention applied to the underlying litigation. In an interesting November 23, 2021 opinion (here), Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis held that the larger M&A retention did not apply.
Continue Reading Court Holds Larger M&A-Related Retention Does Not Apply to Securities Claim
The percentage of M&A transactions valued over $100 million attracting at least one merger objection lawsuit continued to decline in 2017, according to a recent Cornerstone Research study. The July 18, 2018 study, entitled “Shareholder Litigation Involving Acquisitions of Public Companies: Review of 2017 M&A Litigation” (here), also reports that the average number of lawsuits filed per M&A deal and the percentage of M&A deal litigation voluntarily dismissed declined in 2017, as well. Cornerstone Research’s July 18, 2018 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading Percentage of M&A Deals Attracting Litigation Continued to Decline in 2017
Representations and warranties insurance has been around for years, but it is becoming an increasingly important part of M&A transactions, according to an August 24, 2015 Law 360 article (here). According to the article, more buyers are “embracing representations and warranties insurance” in order to “stand out in crowded auctions,” particularly where the seller is a private equity firm. The insurance product is “increasingly deemed a prerequisite toward sealing middle-market deals.”
Continue Reading Reps and Warranties Insurance: Increasingly Indispensable Part of M&A Deals
One of the most distinctive corporate and securities litigation phenomena over the last several years has been the rise in merger objection lawsuits. We are now to the point that virtually every M&A transaction attracts at least one lawsuit. These suits present a number of challenges, including, among other things, questions arising in connection with D&O insurance coverage for the companies and individuals named as defendants in the lawsuits, particularly with respect to the price change exclusion, sometimes referred to as the “bump up” exclusion.
In the following guest post, Peter M. Gillon and Alexander Hardiman of the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP law firm take a look at the insurance coverage issues that frequently arise in these types of cases and offer some practical advice about the ways that insureds can maximize their insurance coverage when these claims arise, particularly in dealing with issues involving the bump up exclusion. Peter is a Partner and Alex is Counsel at the Pillsbury law firm. A version of this article was recently published as a Pillsbury client alert.
I would like to thank Peter and Alex for their willingness to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Peter and Alex’s guest post.
With the explosion of “merger objection” lawsuits being filed by the plaintiffs’ securities bar in the last decade, policyholders seeking coverage under their directors’ and officers’ (D&O) liability insurance for those suits have increasingly been bumping heads with their insurance carriers over the application of the “price change exclusion” (also referred to as the “bump-up” exclusion). This has been a major source of frustration for companies reasonably expecting their policies to respond fully to merger objection suits – especially shareholder suits claiming breach of fiduciary duties by the target company’s Board of Directors in approving the sale of the target. Many companies and their securities defense counsel have capitulated in the face of their carriers’ declinations of coverage. But, as this note explains, it is critical to consult with coverage counsel on these matters as insurers’ assertion of the price change exclusion is often misplaced.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Maximizing the Return on Your D&O Insurance for Merger Objection Lawsuit
In recent years, the uptake for M&A representations and warranties insurance has increased. Just the same, even now, the participants in the M&A transaction often do not always fully understand what they need to know about the insurance. In particular, some transaction parties don’t always appreciate why they need reps and warranties insurance protection.
Insurance to provide coverage for breaches of representations or warranties in M&A transaction documents has been available in the marketplace for several years, but the specialty insurance product has not always been fully understood. More recently, interest in the product has grown and the product has improved, and so take-up for the product has increased…