By Gardner Davis and Danielle Whitley
In a recent decision, the Delaware Chancery Court allowed a buyer to terminate a merger agreement and walk from the deal because the target suffered a material adverse effect or “MAE”. Akorn, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi AG is believed to the first case of its kind in Delaware, which is the leading source of law governing M&A transactions.
Almost all acquisition agreements today provide the buyer with some type of walk right for an MAE. However, the overwhelming majority of acquisition agreements offer no definition for the key term “material”. In practice, most buyers and sellers find it very difficult to agree on a particular percentage or dollar amount as constituting the grounds to call off the deal and therefore by not doing so they essentially punt and leave the difficult issue to the court’s discretion.
Until the Akorn decision, the M&A community has been operating largely in the dark when it comes to an objective standard for what constitutes an MAE under Delaware law.
The Merger Agreement
Akorn involved the merger agreement signed in April 2017 by Fresenius Kabi AG, a German pharmaceutical company, and Akorn, Inc., an American generic pharmaceutical company,providing for Fresenius to acquire Akorn for $ 4.75 billion.
The merger agreement contained customary terms and in light of the nature of Akorn’s business as a pharmaceutical company, Akorn also made extensive representations about its compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.
The merger agreement conditioned the buyer’s obligation to close on Akorn’s representations being true and correct both at signing and at closing, except where the failure to be true and correct would not reasonably be expected to have a contractually defined “Material Adverse Effect”. This type of provision is typically referred to as the “bring-down condition”.
In addition, the buyer’s obligation to close was conditioned on Akorn not having suffered any change, event or occurrence that, individually or in the aggregate, has had or would reasonably be expected to have a contractually defined Material Adverse Effect. This type of provision is often referred to as the “general MAE condition”.
The general MAE condition is not tied to a particular representation about a specific issue.However, the bring-down condition examines the inaccuracy of specific representations and uses as a measuring stick whether the deviation between the as-represented condition and actual condition constitutes an MAE.
The merger agreement contained a relatively standard, albeit convoluted definition of “Material Adverse Effect”. The agreement defined the termto include “any effect, change, event or occurrence that, individually or in the aggregate . . . has a material adverse effect on the business, results of operations or financial condition of the Company and its Subsidiaries, taken as a whole”.
Target’s Business Falls Off A Cliff
After the signing of the merger agreement, Akorn’s business performance deteriorated dramatically, or as Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster colorfully put it -“fell off a cliff”.
Akorn’s full-year EBITDA showed an 86% decline. Akorn’s full-year adjusted EBITDA declined 51%. These declines represented a departure from Akorn’s historical trend. Over the prioe five-year span, Akorn grew consistently, year over year, when measured by revenue.
After signing the merger agreement, Fresenius discovered serious and pervasive data integrity problems that rendered Akorn’s representations regarding its regulatory compliance inaccurate.
Fresenius concluded that the merger was a bad deal and sought to terminate the merger agreement. Fresenius asserted that Akorn’s representations regarding regulatory compliance were so inaccurate that the deviation could reasonably be expected to result in a material adverse effect. Fresenius also cited the section in the merger agreement that conditioned Fresenius’ obligations to close on Akorn’s not having suffered a material adverse effect.
Akorn responded by filing an action in the Delaware Chancery Court seeking a declaration that Fresenius’ attempt to terminate the merger agreement was invalid and a decree of specific performance compelling Fresenius to close.
In prior cases, the Delaware Chancery Court consistently ruled against buyers who sought to back out of acquisitions on the grounds of the MAE provision in the contract.
Court Examines Buyer’s Claim of MAE
Vice Chancellor Laster found that Fresenius made the necessary showing to establish a general MAE. He also found the bring-down condition was not satisfied because the inaccuracy of Akorn’s regulatory compliance representation constituted an MAE.
The Delaware Chancery Court’s decision in Akorngives the M&A community new guidance regarding what will constitute an MAE under Delaware law:
- In order to constitute a general MAE, the decline in business performance must be durationally-significant from a long term perspective. A short term hiccup will not qualify. A minimum of two bad quarters, measured on a year-over-year basis, is probably required.
- In order to constitute a general MAE, the decline in business performance must be greater than 10%.A decline of 40% or more will probably be a general MAE. Although Akorn does not provide specific guidance in the intermediate range of declines, a decline resulting in the loss of 20% of the target’s value may be the threshold. However, Akorn cautioned the reader not to fixate on a particular percentage as establishing a bright-line test.
- In order to constitute an MAE for purposes of a bring-down condition, the breach of the representation must be both qualitatively and quantitatively significant when viewed from the longer-term perspective of a reasonable acquiror.
- In order to constitute an MAE for purposes of a bring-down condition, the difference between the as-represented condition of the company and the actual condition at closing probably must represent a decline in value equal to approximately 15% to 20% of the target’s equity value.
Using payments to streamline everyday transport
By Venceslas Cartier, Global Head of Transportation & Smart Mobility at Ingenico Enterprise Retail
Once upon a time the only way to get from A to B on public transport was with cash – and likely a pre-paid ticket bought from a physical office. Nowadays, thanks to technological developments, options range from contactless and mobile payments, to in-app tickets and more. As payment methods advance, consumers and merchants are naturally moving towards Mobility as a Service (MaaS) systems, integrating various forms of transport services into a single mobility service, accessible on demand.
This move towards MaaS does not only streamline the consumer experience, it has other positive impacts too. Incentivising public transport use reduces environmental pollution, improves mental wellbeing by reducing travel-related stress, and aids productivity by freeing up time otherwise spent driving. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the current trends affecting the transport sector, as well as how payments can optimise transportation for both operators and consumers alike.
Optimising transport with payments
The payment process is integral to any service. A payment service provider (PSP) can provide a range of key benefits to operators by proving a gateway to the transportation open payment ecosystem, and ensuring they meet objectives in 3 key areas.
- Environmentally, by reducing the use of personal cars and alleviating pollution and congestion.
- Societally, making urban mobility more inclusive in terms of improving access to all areas and for all socioeconomic classes.
- Economically, by optimising investment in eco-structure and fostering financial transactions, therefore improving the wealth of the city.
Payments professionals’ expertise and technological solutions can make payments easy again for transport operators. They can provide a range of options so that the customer can choose which one is right for them, leveraging the capabilities of the mobility services’ infrastructure (contactless, mobile wallets, P2P, closed-loop, QR code, and blockchain).
Furthermore, they can help promote inclusion and sustainable urban development. For example, methods such as prepaid virtual cards, or mobility accounts linked to a prepaid account can reduce the risks of excluding the unbanked. The environmental impact per kilometre can also be reduced, along with the use of vehicles with lower emissions per person per kilometre.
Finally, PSPs can put merchants’ minds at ease, providing payment liability, allowing aggregation of all due amounts from all mobility service providers, and collecting payments in one single transaction from users while dispatching revenue between mobility service providers.
COVID-19’s disruption to the travel industry cannot be overlooked. In fact, research suggests that public transit ridership is down 70% across the globe since the onset of the virus, longer distance travel has seen reductions of up to 90%, and payment by cash has seen a 60% drop.
Being realistic, these behavioural shifts are unlikely to revert anytime soon, so it’s important for merchants to keep this in mind when thinking about payment methods. More than 70% of consumers and travellers say they are likely to avoid the use of cash over the next six months. As a result, more than 40 countries have already raised their contactless payment threshold, further helping consumers to avoid contact with frequently touched pin pads.
However, the pandemic has only accelerated the way things were heading already and highlighted the benefits. Within the context of the pandemic, transportation needs to reinvent itself and adapt its processes to suit the shift in commuter habits that we’ve already seen and will continue to see in the future.
Other trends to keep an eye on
Contactless has been steadily growing on the transport scene, as have mobile payments and in-app purchases. In fact, the recent move to mobile and online ticketing is the most promising method so far, having seen significant growth in the last few years and having been accelerated by COVID-19 as discussed above. Once consumers move to these easy, convenient, and seamless methods, it’s rare that they revert – so it’s a good idea for operators to think how they can cater to these preferences.
Speed and convenience are a must for busy travellers – but not at the expense of data security. Finding the right payments partner is therefore crucial so operators can safeguard their customers’ personal data, while also keeping on top of other security regulations/features such as P2P encryption, PCI certification, and tokenisation.
Next steps for operators
Public transport is essential for many peoples’ everyday lives – COVID-19 or no COVID-19. As such, mobility service providers can make a great difference to their service and operations by implementing the right solutions.
Grey skies ahead – Malta prepares for a gloomy 2021 if they can’t tackle financial crime
By Dhanum Nursigadoo, ComplyAdvantage
With the summer drawing to a close, many countries who rely significantly on warm weather tourism will be assessing the impact of Covid-19. Being a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean you would expect Malta to be taking a significant economical hit – just like we are seeing in other popular European holiday destinations – but this doesn’t take into account the strength of the Maltese economy.
Emerging from the eurozone crisis with one of the most dynamic economies strategically positioned between three continents, Malta has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU and has recently seen its GDP growth expand year-on-year. But perhaps the most important aspect of the Maltese economy has been its attraction for foreign businesses with only a 5% tax on profits. It is no secret that Malta is a tax haven, probably one of the most effective tax havens in the world.
But you can’t pick and choose who takes shelter, and it’s no secret that money launderers have been taking advantage of the regulatory landscape in this archipelago.
The conditions of a tax haven suit criminal enterprises, who can take advantage of the opaque environment and blend their illegal activities with the same operations enjoyed by high net worth individuals and corporations who are looking to reduce their tax bill. And last year Malta’s keenness for secrecy and avoidance resulted in a damning report by Moneyval – the Council of Europe’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) body – which found that while the nation had made some efforts to curb money laundering there was still much to be desired in order to bring the tax haven up to standard. Overall, they were of the opinion that Malta viewed combating money laundering as a non-priority and this resulted in branding Malta with low to partial ratings for 30 out of the 40 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.
The findings of the report were stated to have the potential to “create within the wider public the perception that there may exist a culture of inactivity or impunity”. This follows on from a series of international high-profile stories regarding Malta and financial crime. Most shocking was the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – who investigated corruption and money laundering in her native country – and was killed by a car-bomb three years ago leading to international outrage and condemnation.
Now Malta is in a race against time to turn their reputation around or they will suffer genuine consequences. The FATF have threatened to place Malta on a “greylist” of high-risk jurisdictions unless they have shown a genuine commitment to combatting financial crime and implemented the recommendations of the Moneyval report. If they fail, this would make Malta the first EU country to make the list and join others such as Panama, Syria and Zimbabwe.
The pandemic has actually given Malta more time to meet these obligations, and it has been widely reported that an initial summer deadline has now been moved to October due to the widespread disruption.
As we head into the autumn, there are signs that Malta has begun to take action. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has created and established an empowered AML now headed up by Anthony Eddington, formerly of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and who has previous experience of tackling anti-financial crime at Deutsche Bank. This team has already begun working closely with international experts, specifically partners in the US through the US embassy in Malta and the United States Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). In May this collaboration led to 25 new cases focused on money laundering in particular, and with plans to increase standard inspections and on-site investigations into businesses in Malta, it appears there is a change to the country’s priorities.
Importantly, the report highlighted a problem for countries that choose to become tax havens. In some cases it was not that the Maltese authorities deliberately turned a blind-eye, but simply that they did not have the necessary knowledge to effectively tackle financial crime in the first place. Law enforcement appeared unable to even recognise when crime was occurring.
But this blurring of financial compliance will not help businesses if Malta does indeed become “greylisted” this year. While not as devastating as being blacklisted (the two occupants of this list are Iran and North Korea) there are significant detrimental effects to being put on the FATF greylist. Although this signals that the country is committed to developing AML/CFT plans (unlike the blacklist) it still sends out a warning signal to the world that this is a high-risk area, with the country in question subject to increased monitoring and potential sanctions from the IMF and the World Bank. Make no mistake, being put on the greylist will be catastrophic for Malta’s economy.
It remains to be seen how the work to avoid such a calamity will affect Malta’s tax haven status. Perhaps with an increased fight against financial crime there will be less ability to defend one of Europe’s most competitive tax regimes. But if Malta does not show they are genuinely committed to tackling this problem, then the pandemic disruption to the island’s tourism may be minor in comparison to the grey clouds that now approach their shores.
How will the UK prepare a supply chain for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines?
By Don Marshall, Marketing role at Exporta.
The challenge of mobilising a supply chain for the introduction of a global and nationwide vaccine will be enormously complex. The process will be costly, and it’s likely the figures will stretch to the hundreds of millions for both the production of the vaccine itself and its distribution across the UK. We must prepare and plan a supply chain strategy to ensure it reaches those most in need in a timely and safe manner.
The task of immunising a whole population is something that has never been planned or likely imagined by anyone within a standard supply chain. A supply chain that goes directly from the manufacturer to the end consumer, or user/ patient in this case, is complex and goes beyond the scope of any single logistics company. It would have to be conceived and delivered via a large joint effort and collaboration between multiple organisations. Effectively distributing the vaccine will depend on the source of manufacture, its storage requirements, and protection of the vaccines from manufacture through to patient administration.
The majority of vaccines require storage within a specific temperature range and need to be handled safely and in hygienic conditions. Depending on where the vaccines are manufactured, the transport legs will vary; if they are coming from overseas, air freight will increase cost and complexity. In addition to supplying the vaccine, syringes, needles and containers also need to be taken into account when preparing the supply chain.
Securing the specific types of boxes or containers i.e. the lidded containers normally used for transporting pharmaceutical products will mean acquiring them from all available stockists and manufacturers. Delivery vehicles would then need to be considered, with temperature-control factored in. The medical supply chain can inform their approach to distribution by assessing data from previous supply chains, and how large quantities of vaccines have been sent out in the past. Collating successful vaccine delivery examples from other parts of the world would be advantageous here, the more we can do to prepare for a logistical challenge of this magnitude, the better.
The distribution of this COVID vaccine will be unique in its scale and for that reason, additional supply chains will need to be mobilised. Apart from medical supply chains, those best suited for this type of transportation are the fresh/frozen food industries and supermarkets. I would mobilise these businesses to assist with the vaccine’s distribution wherever possible and use their car parks and facilities for the temporary medical centres needed to administer the vaccine to the public.
Using the food industry and supermarket networks would leave the current pharmaceutical supply chains intact for health services, pharmacies and the NHS. It would protect those vital services and continue to serve communities across the UK. Inevitably, it would place a short term strain on food supply chains, but these are supply chains that are well-equipped and versed in coping with excess demand i.e. the spike endured from the brief spell of public panic buying at the start of the crisis. With adequate resourcing and planning, I believe the UK supply chain can and will handle this challenge.
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