Sunday, October 31, 2010

Carl Icahn vs. Lionsgate: A Breakdown

Over the past few weeks, relations have become particularly tense between Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn and Vancouver-based film producer Lionsgate (LGF). Since early 2006, Icahn has been building his ownership stake in Lionsgate and has criticized the company for its "reckless" spending and leverage. He has repeatedly issued hostile bids in an attempt to buyout the struggling media company and to protect his investment. Yesterday, Icahn--who currently owns 33.5% of LGF--extended the deadline of his tender offer of $7.50 per share to November 12, 2010. Throughout the battle, the two parties have gone through standstills and attempts at cooperation--all of which have not only proved ephemeral, but have backfired on both. Icahn and LGF have issued rather vicious and sharp-worded litigation against one another in an attempt to influence the outcome of the proxy battle between the two.


On October 20, 2008, Icahn Capital filed its initial 13D statement with the SEC, revealing a 9.17% ownership stake in Lionsgate. In Item 4 of the filing, the firm stated its belief that the shares were "undervalued", along with its desire "to continue to have discussions with representatives of [LGF]". The shareholder activists' stake later reached 38%, but shortly thereafter was diluted to 33.5%. What happened was this: In June 2010, Lionsgate refinanced Kornitzer Capital Management's $100 million worth of debt into convertible notes redeemable at a price below the then-current market price. Kornitzer then sold the notes to Mark Rachesky, President of MHR Fund Management. The fund then exercised the notes at $6.20 per share. All told, the debt-to-equity swap increased Rackesky's ownership of LGF from 19% to 29%, while effectively diluting Icahn's from 38% to 33.5%. The situation is particularly fascinating in light of the fact that Rachesky was a former protege of Icahn. Many have incorrectly speculated that Rachesky would support Icahn's activist investment, but rather Rachesky has done just the opposite--support LGF's incumbent board of directors and management. As LGF's second largest shareholder (under Icahn), Rachesky will have considerable leverage in shaping the outcome of the proxy fight.


Unhappy with being diluted, Icahn did what--some may argue--he does best: sue the company. On July 26, 2010, he filed his complaint concerning Lionsgate's debt-to-equity swap and its breach in a 10-day standstill agreement to the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the New York Supreme Court, respectively.

In the lawsuit, Winston & Strawn, LLP (Icahn's legal counsel) writes, "This case involves an unlawful sham transaction by which an incumbent Board of Directors and their co-conspirators sought to further entrench their own positions and to protect their personal interests in compensation and perks at the sole expense of their company… and its shareholders". In case you are wondering, Winston & Strawn, LLP repeatedly refer to the debt-to-equity swap as "The Sham Transaction". They continue in Icahn-esque tone, "The Sham Transaction is the antithesis of responsible corporate governance; indeed it belongs more properly in the script for a new reality TV program, 'Mad Management'". Ultimately, Icahn is accusing Lionsgate for unlawful tortuous activity, violating stock exchange rules, violating laws, and violating federal securities law. He has asked the courts to reverse "The Sham Transaction" and to "sterilize" Rachesky's new shares--that is, take away their voting rights. As of now, no ruling has been made.


In April earlier this year, Canadian regulators rejected LGF's poison pill, which had a trigger of 20%. On July 1, 2010, Lionsgate launched a second shareholder rights plan, which would have gone into effect if a shareholder accumulated more than 38%. The board believed that the second poison pill would pass the legal hurdle, because it was established without the presence an active tender offer. Nevertheless, the British Columbia Securities Commission again rejected Lionsgate's poison pill.


Lo and behold, media company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM)--which is facing declining cash flow and high levels of debt--is being asked of its creditors to "discuss alternatives". The company was burdened with debt when it was taken private by a team of investors in 2005 for $2.85 billion--namely by, Sony Corporation, Comcast, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital, DLG Merchant Banking Partners, and Quadrangle Group. (Important Note: creditors were later disappointed with the highest buyout bid--$1.5 billion from the Warner Brothers--following the one in 2005.)

Believing that it can enhance the value of MGM's vast film library--which includes more than 4,000 titles--, on October 12, Lionsgate sought a merger with the media company. Under the LGF-MGM merger, Lionsgate would own 45% of the resulting-company; MGM creditors, 55%. Initially, Icahn was opposed to the merger; but, later supported it. In fact, Icahn supported it so much that he bought up 13% of MGM's $4 billion debt and then pressed other creditors to vote their shares his way--that is, in favor of the Lionsgate-MGM merger over the Spyglass alternative.


On October 28, Icahn got a taste of his own medicine, when Lionsgate sued him over tortious interference, "filing [of] materially false and misleading statements with the [SEC]", and "violat[ing] provisions of federal securities law". 

The company--hiring none other than the famous corporate law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz--writes, "It turns out that Icahn has been misleading Lionsgate all along. While urging shareholders to support his takeover campaign… to ensure that Lionsgate did not pursue what he called a 'delusional' MGM transaction, Icahn was quietly amassing a huge portion in MGM debt with the undisclosed intention of reaping profits from both sides in an eventual merger." Notably, the case has some choice words to describe Icahn: a "corporate raider", "break[s] up companies", involved in a "double game". Fittingly, that day, Icahn extended his $7.50 tender offer, which is set to expire November 12, 2010, at 11:59 p.m (Vancouver time), unless otherwise amended.


Yesterday, October 29, MGM creditors officially voted on which alternative to pursue: either a merger with Lionsgate or bankruptcy reorganization. Ultimately, they "overwhelmingly" favored the latter due to its firmer financing arrangement. Under the accepted alternative, the company will file for Chapter 11 around (humorously) Halloween time. Spyglass Entertainment, operated by Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, will own 5% of the studio, as well as manage it; creditors will have their aggregate debt converted into 95% of the equity of the resulting company. Although MGM is seeking court approval on around December 2010--and thus there is time for reversal--Icahn, as of the present moment, is supporting the accepted merger, contingent upon concessions in deal terms and gaining a board seat on MGM.

Images extracted from (1) and (2).

Posted by David Schatz

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

JCPenney, Fortune Brands Respond to Ackman

Bill Ackman generated considerable enthusiasm and attention at the recent Value Investing Congress. Known for his persistence and aggressive campaigns, Ackman has delivered substantial returns to investors—his fund, Pershing Square, has a historical 24% annual return and $7 billion AUM. He gained public attention from his tense six-year battle against bond insurer MBIA Inc. The activist investor ultimately shorted the company for a net return of more than $1 billion—a fascinating showdown that was later chronicled in Christine Richard’s Confidence Game.  Now Ackman has his eyes set on JCPenney (JCP), Fortune Brands (FO) and General Growth Properties (GGP). Putting his money where his mouth is, Ackman has allocated $2 billion of his fund’s net asset value to taking on esteemed-retailer JCPenney and holding company Fortune Brands.

Thus, it was no surprise that Ackman was the center of attention at the Value Investing Congress. The activist investor first stated that he is bullish on the US economy. Ackman argued that, due to the credit crisis and recession, US companies have been hoarding cash. Cash can be applied to share buybacks, dividend distributions, and other measures that juice up stock price either in the short-term or long-term. (JCP, for example, has $2 billion worth of cash and cash equivalents.) Further, companies are currently undervalued—a quality which makes the environment particularly ripe for activist investing. Ackman added that debt financing is relatively cheap, the improving housing market, revitalization of private equity investments, and so forth, are signs of an improving economy. But what exactly is Ackman likely to push for in JCPenney, Fortune Brands, and General Growth Properties—and how is his investments faring thus far?

Evidently, both the managements of JCP and FO aren’t particularly happy of Pershing Square’s latest 13D findings. Pershing Square currently owns 16.5% of JCP and 10.9% of FO. The two companies have both taken measures to oppose Ackman’s impending proxy battle. Fortune Brands is currently seeking out an investment bank (potentially Credit Suisse) for counsel. Pershing Square has not stated how it specifically aims to reshape the company, but many have speculated that Ackman sees value in spinning-off the company’s divisions from one another.

JCPenney, on the other hand, has taken rather direct actions to defend against shareholder activism. On October 22,  JCP employed a poison pill with a 10% trigger. The company writes, “The Board of Directors authorized the adoption of the Rights Agreement, which has a one-year term, to promote fair and equal treatment of the Company’s stockholders in connection with any initiative to acquire control of the Company and in light of recent rapid accumulations of a significant percentage of the Common Stock”. Notably, the trigger is set just above Vornado Reality Trust’s 9.9% ownership. Stephen Roth, Chairman of Vornado Reality Trust, plans to work alongside Ackman in his activist campaign. Should any investor exceed the 10% threshold, other common stockholders have the right to purchase a fraction of JCP’s preferred shares, thus diluting the 10%+ acquirer’s ownership. The poison pill expires on October 14, 2011. JCPenney’s shares dropped 3% following the news. Lastly, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital (financial assistance) and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (legal assistance) have been hired to help the retailer defend against Pershing Square’s investment. Ackman has mentioned the following as catalysts to boost shareholder value: JCP’s attractive real estate portfolio, excess cash and non-operating assets, cheapness (trading at 3.5x EBITDA), absence of short-term debt, and low company layoffs (relative to the industry).

The Howard Hughes Corporation, a spin-off of GGP that Ackman will chair, is not going to be a REIT. GGP shareholders’ stock will be converted into 0.0983 shares of the spin-off and one new share of GGP. Howard Hughes’ heirs, who resisted the conversion, were promised $230 million. With $250 million worth of commitments, the Howard Hughes Corporation will focus on developing the South Street Seaport, malls, master planned communities, and GGP’s Chicago headquarters. As of now, Ackman’s investment in GGP has increased 650% to $1.5 billion.

While Ackman’s recent stock returns have been considerable, only time will tell whether or not he will be able to generate long-term value for investors and shareholder of JCPenney, Fortune Brands, and General Growth Property. Based on his history, it really can go either way. One thing is for sure, if history repeats, the proxy battles will be exciting to follow.

Posted by David Schatz

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DE Supreme Court Reaffirms Selectica's "NOL" Shareholder Rights Plan

On October 4, 2010, the Supreme Court of Delaware upheld the Court of Chancery’s prior decision in favor of Selectica, Inc.—reaffirming the validity of Selectica’s NOL Poison Pill under state law.


Selectica (SLTC) is a currently profitless Delaware public corporation that provides sales configuration systems and enterprise software solutions for management. Trilogy—which operates in the same industry as Selectica—owns Versata Enterprises as a subsidiary. Versata, in turn, specializes in technology powered business services.

Since going public in March 2000, Selectica has consistently experienced annual losses. Consequentially, the company has accumulated approximately $160 million in net operating loss carryforwards (NOLs). NOLs are tax losses that can be used by a corporation for a limited time to offset taxes to be paid on operating profits. NOLs can be used to refund prior taxes, or be used to shelter future income from taxation. Their value, therefore, is contingent upon the company either having immediate past profit or reporting future profit. Finally, NOLs become worthless if the company fails to generate profit after twenty years.

A rather specific stipulation held in the Internal Revenue Code ultimately exacerbated the long-standing adversarial relationship between Selectica and Trilogy. Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code triggers a decrease in value of a company’s NOLs in the event of “ownership change”. The purpose of this rule is to prevent taxpayers from benefiting from other company’s NOLs. Justice Randy J. Holland clarifies that for the “purposes of [Versata Enterprises, Inc. v. Selectica, Inc.] the only shareholders considered when calculating… ownership change… are those who hold, or have obtained during the testing period, a 5% or greater block of [Selectica’s] shares outstanding”. Selectica ultimately determined that it was necessary to take measures to protect the NOLs value after 30% beneficial ownership changed hands—problematic, since over the past three years 5%+ holders experienced about a 40% ownership change.

The measure that Selectica took to thus protect its most valuable assets was namely to implement a NOL Poison Pill. The pill was an amendment to a previous Shareholder Rights Plan.  It would decrease “the beneficial ownership trigger from 15% to 4.99%, while grandfathering in existing 5% shareholders and permitting them to acquire up to an additional 0.5% [the 0.5% permissible increase being contingent on the original 15% cap] without triggering the NOL Poison Pill”. On December 18, 2009, Trilogy— which has been trying for five years now to buyout Selectica—accumulated even more shares of Selectica, growing its ownership to 6.7% and thus triggering the NOL Poison Pill. Trilogy states that it did this intentionally to “’bring accountability’ to the Board and ‘expose’… the ‘illegal behavior’ by the Board in adopting a pill with such a low trigger”. Ultimately, Selectica’s Shareholder Rights Plan instituted an Exchange that diluted Trilogy’s ownership from 6.7% to 3.3% whilst doubling other SLTC shareholders’ common stock. Selectica then reloaded its poison pill back to the 4.99% trigger.

In reviewing the validity of the NOL Poison Pill, the Exchange, and the Reloaded NOL Poison Pill under state law, the Delaware Supreme Court applied the Unocal test. Under Delaware law, the adoption of a poison pill is valid as an anti-takeover measure so long as it meets three stipulations.  To pass the Unocal test, the Shareholder Rights Plan must be both a reasonable and proportionate response to a threat, and not be preclusive or coercive toward that threat. A defensive measure is preclusive where it renders a bidder “mathematically” unable to “realistically… wage a proxy contest and gain control”.

Believing that Selectica’s actions were proportionate and reasonable, while not precluding Trilogy’s ability to wage a successful proxy context, the Delaware Supreme Court reaffirmed the validity of the NOL Poison Pill, the Exchange, and the Reloaded Poison Pill. (Selectica’s cross-appeal for a refund of attorney fees under the bad faith exception to the American Rule was dismissed.) 

Interestingly, near the decision’s closing, the Court had some scathing words to say about Trilogy. The Court described Trilogy as a belligerent force “act[ing] in bad faith” to “harm… a competitor with a contentious history”. Shareholder activists have had some equally harsh words for Delaware corporate law. In particular, they have criticized Delaware for having what they perceive to be a bias in favor of companies’ board of directors, whilst consequentially depressing the rights of shareholders. As evidence, activist investors point out that more than half of US public companies are incorporated there. Ultimately, Versata Enterprises, Inc. v. Selectica, Inc. is particularly significant in that it is representative of some of the tension between companies and their shareholders.

Posted by David Schatz

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shareholder Activism in the European Union

Pavlos E. Masouros, a Fellow in Corporate Law at Leiden University, recently published a research paper concerning the state of shareholder rights in the European Union following the enactment of the Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD).

"This article is essentially an attempt to show that the deficit in the European corporate governance model with regard to the status of the shareholders persists even in the post-SRD era and that we still have a long distance to cover in order to truly empower shareholders in the EU..."

You may find Masouros’ paper, Is the EU Taking Shareholder Rights Seriously? An Essay on the Impotence of Shareholdership in Corporate Europe, posted under “General Commentary” in our recently launched Activist Investing Resource Blog.

For more information concerning Masouros’ research, click here

Posted by David Schatz

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Busy Week for Bill Ackman

Last week, activist investor Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, was particularly busy. Along with being named the future chairman of the newly formed Howard Hughes Corporation, Ackman filed two Schedule 13D statements: one for J.C. Penney and another for Fortune Brands. Ackman believes that both J.C. Penney and Fortune are "undervalued" and represent "attractive investment[s]". In Item 4 of both filings, Pershing Square states that it "expect[s] to engage in discussions with management, the board, other stockholders of the Issuer and other relevant parties concerning the business, assets, capitalization, financial condition, operations, governance, management, strategy and future plans of the Issuer".  

Hedge Fund Solutions has been closely tracking Pershing Square's activist investments:

General Growth Properties, Inc. ("GGP")
23,953,782 Common Shares (7.5% of the outstanding Common Shares)
54,907,669 Common Shares under certain cash-settled total return swaps

Bill Ackman has been in charge of General Growth's bankruptcy reorganization since the company first entered Chapter 11 in April 2009. Under the reorganization plan, GGP will become two separate companies, financed by $8.5 billion from Pershing Square and other investors. One company will be called General Growth and manage 185 shopping malls; another will be called The Howard Hughes Corporation. The latter spin-off will will consist of a portfolio of real estate assets, master planned communities, malls, GGP's Chicago headquarters, and will be managed by a nine member board. On October 8, 2010, GGP announced that Ackman will become the chairman of The Howard Hughes Corporation.

In a press release, Ackman stated, "I am extremely pleased that we have assembled such an experienced, talented and dynamic group of individuals to serve as directors… I also believe the Howard Hughes name -- which reflects the success and vision of one of our country's greatest entrepreneurs -- is a fitting brand for this world-class portfolio of real estate assets. We look forward to create long-term value for our shareholders"

According to Reuters, "Pershing Square will own 9.5% of Hughes when it emerges from bankruptcy", which GGP expects to occur in November.

General Growth Properties, Inc. (GGP) is a self-managed real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company has ownership interest in, or management responsibility for, over 200 regional shopping malls in 43 states, as well as ownership in master planned communities and commercial office buildings. GGP’s business is focused in two main areas: Retail and Other, which includes the operation, development and management of retail and other rental property, primarily shopping centers and Master Planned Communities, which includes the development and sale of land, primarily in large-scale, long-term community development projects in and around Columbia, Maryland; Summerlin, Nevada, and Houston, Texas and its one residential condominium project located in Natick (Boston), Massachusetts. All of its business is conducted through GGP Limited Partnership (the Operating Partnership or GGPLP).

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. ("JCP")

39,075,771 Common Shares and 4,156,700 American-style call options (16.5% of the outstanding Common Shares)
602,600 notional shares of Common Shares under certain cash-settled total return swaps

Pershing Square started purchasing shares of JCP since August 17, 2010. The activist hedge fund continued to hold below 5% of JCP until September 28 when it purchased call options to 4 million shares. SEC law stipulates that investors have within 10 days to file a Schedule 13D after accumulating 5% or more of a public company's stock. Toward this end, after exceeding the threshold, Ackman started rapidly purchasing JCP to the tune of 23 million additional shares, ~4.2 million American-style call options, and 602,000 cash-settled total return swaps, bringing his aggregate economic exposure to 16.8%. The options' weighted average strike price is $26.23--most of which expire next May; the remainder in January 2012. Pershing Square paid approximately $903 million for its stake in JCP.

Stephen Roth's Vornado Reality Trust also filed a Schedule 13D, revealing its 9.9% ownership of JCP. Vornado is a real estate investment trust (REIT) which owns over 100 million square feet of commercial real estate. Ackman states that he "and the Vornado… intend to consult in connection with each other on strategic matters relating to [J.C. Penney] and their investment in the Common Stock."

Although Ackman has not yet indicated what changes he will specifically push for in JCP, based upon his previous activity with Target and McDonald's, his current investment in General Growth Properties, as well as his overall form of shareholder activism, it is likely that he will focus on real estate catalysts. In his activist campaign against McDonald's Corporation, Ackman stated that the company should not be in the business of operating its own stores. The shift away from a capital-intensive business model, Ackman argued, would allow for McDonald's to repurchase a greater number of its shares and pay out larger dividends to shareholders. For Target Corporation, real estate again was the area of concern for Pershing Square. Ackman proposed an elaborate scheme for Target whereby the company would sell its credit-card business and manage its real estate in a spin-off REIT. Ultimately, Pershing Square lost all of the five board seats that it fought for; however, Target repurchased $10 billion of its shares and sold approximately 50% of its credit-card business. J.C. Penney could very well represent an opportunity for the activist investor to heal the scars earned during the Target battle. In its latest quarterly report, the company stated that it has ~$5.3 billion worth of property and equipment.

In addition to focusing on real estate catalysts, Ackman is also likely to push JCP to pay back some of its debt, distribute dividends, repurchase shares, or some combination of the aforementioned. As of July 31, 2010, the company currently has $2 billion worth of cash and cash equivalents. Furthermore, the retailer has a plan that offers golden parachutes to executives in the event that an investor accumulates more than 20% of the company's stock. (Important Note: a "Group" filing from Pershing and Vornado would exceed the 20% ownership threshold and trigger the right to issue change of control payments) CEO Myron Ullman's golden parachute is worth 2.99 times his target bonus and annual salary. Therefore, corporate governance and "excessive" executive compensation arrangements could be another source of contention for J.C. Penney if it needs to defends itself against shareholder activism.

Lastly, the retailer's stock has struggled to perform on a comparable basis against larger companies like Macy's and Kohl's. According to The New York Times, prior to Ackman's involvement, over the last 12 months J.C. Penney's stock has decreased 7.6%.

J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (JCP) is a holding company whose principal operating subsidiary is J. C. Penney Corporation, Inc. (JCP). The Company is a retailer, operating 1,108 JCPenney department stores in 49 states and Puerto Rico as of January 30, 2010. Its business consists of selling merchandise and services to consumers through its department stores and Direct (Internet/catalog) channels. JCPenney sells family apparel and footwear, accessories, fine and fashion jewelry, beauty products through Sephora inside JCPenney and home furnishings. In addition, its department stores provide with services, such as styling salon, optical, portrait photography and custom decorating.

Fortune Brands ("FO")

16,668,636 Common Shares (10.9% of the outstanding Common Shares)
603,486 notional shares of Common Shares under certain cash-settled total return swaps

Unlike J.C. Penney, Fortune Brands has done incredibly well, rising 30% this year; as a result, it is unsuspecting that an investor would press for changes in such a company. However, Ackman is not your typical investor. He is an activist investor who has taken on well-managed companies in the past (read: Target) and has been relentless in his campaigns from beginning to end--Fortune Brands will probably be no exception.

In particular, the company's eclectic brand mix makes it highly vulnerable to spin-off proposals. Fortune has a golf division, which owns Titleist, FootJoy, Scotty Cameron Putters, and Pinnacle Golf; a home and security division, which owns Waterloo Industries, Masterbrand Cabinets, Moen, Master Lock, American Lock, Fypon, Therma-Tru Doors, Vista Window Company, and Simonton Windows; and lastly a spirits division, particularly noted for its Jim Beam, Sauza tequila, and Maker's Mark bourbon products. Based upon the focus of Pershing Square's previous activist campaigns, Ackman is likely to argue that the disharmony of the company's brand mix is evidence that Fortune will be more valuable existing as separate entities.

Fortune Brands, Inc. (Fortune Brands) is a holding company with operating companies engaged in the manufacture, production and sale of distilled spirits, home and security products, and golf products. Fortune Brands operates in three segments: Spirits, Home & Security and Golf. In June 2009, the Company acquired the EFFEN vodka brand and related assets from the Sazerac Company, Inc. In June 2009, the Company sold the Old Taylor whiskey brand and assets to Sazerac Company, Inc.

Images extracted from (1), (2), (3), and (4).

Posted by David Schatz, Hedge Fund Solutions

Sunday, October 10, 2010

**Newly Launched** Activist Investing Resource Blog

Check out the newly launched Activist Investing Resource Blog, a central repository for published research papers on financially-oriented shareholder activism, activist investing presentations from webinars and investment conferences, books on activism, and much more.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

MacKenzie Strengthens Proxy Fight Team With Seasoned Veteran

New York, NY, October 7, 2010 -- MacKenzie Partners, Inc. today announced that Paul Schulman has joined MacKenzie Partners in their New York City headquarters as Senior Vice President. Paul has over twenty years of experience in the proxy solicitation industry. He was previously with The Altman Group overseeing all corporate proxy solicitation, M&A and shareholder identification projects.

Dan Burch, Chief Executive Officer of MacKenzie Partners, stated, “Paul’s extensive industry expertise and financial services background will greatly benefit the firm’s clients. We are pleased to have been able to recruit Paul to join our already strong team of professionals and he will be able to bring his substantial talents to bear on the firm’s major ongoing contests and in the coming 2011 proxy season.  While Proxy Access may be delayed yet another year, it is clear from the substantial uptick in hostile takeovers, activism and proxy contests this fall, that 2011 will be an extremely busy year for our industry.”

Paul’s primary responsibilities in the recent past have involved representing clients in proxy contests, mergers, tender offers and corporate financings and restructurings. He also counsels clients on corporate governance and compensation issues and advises on shareholder proposals. Paul has extensive experience as the lead on numerous contested solicitation assignments, complex restructurings, hostile and friendly mergers, bankruptcy solicitations, limited partnership transactions and stock surveillance.

Prior to joining The Altman Group, Paul was employed at Georgeson, where he was a Senior Vice President on the M&A Advisory Team and headed the firm’s bankruptcy and restructuring unit.

MacKenzie Partners is a full-service proxy solicitation, investor relations and corporate governance consulting firm specializing in mergers-and-acquisitions related transactions with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Palo Alto and London,

Paul holds a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University.

Monday, October 4, 2010

SEC Grants Stay of Proxy Access

On Sept. 29 Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce filed a legal challenge to the SEC's final rules on proxy access and requested the SEC stay the effectiveness of those rules.  On October 4, the SEC granted that stay.

Excerpted from the Commission's Order:
The Commission has discretion to grant a stay of its rules pending judicial review if it finds that “justice so requires.” Without addressing the merits of petitioners’challenge to the rules, the Commission has determined to exercise its discretion to stay Rule 14a-11 and related amendments to the Commission’s rules, including the
amendment to Rule 14a-8, pending resolution of petitioners’ petition for review by the Court of Appeals.

The Commission finds that, under all of the circumstances of this matter, a stay of Rule 14a-11 and related rule amendments is consistent with what justice requires. Among other things, a stay avoids potentially unnecessary costs, regulatory uncertainty, and disruption that could occur if the rules were to become effective during the pendency of a challenge to their validity. Because the Commission and petitioners will seek expedited review of petitioners’ challenge, questions about the rules’ validity will be resolved as quickly as possible.

The Commission further finds that, under all of the circumstances of this matter, it is consistent with what  justice requires to stay the effectiveness of the amendment to Rule 14a-8 adopted contemporaneously with Rule 14a-11 because the amendment to Rule 14a-8 was designed to complement Rule 14a-11 and is intertwined, and there is a potential for confusion if the amendment to Rule 14a-8 were to become effective while Rule 14a-11 is stayed.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED, pursuant to Exchange Act Section 25(c)(2) and Administrative Procedure Act Section 705, that the motion of petitioners filed on September 29, 2010 for a stay of the effect of Commission Rule 14a-11 and related amendments pending resolution of petitioners’ petition for review by the Court of
Appeals be, and hereby is, granted; and it is further

ORDERED, pursuant to Exchange Act Section 25(c)(2) and Administrative Procedure Act Section 705, that the amendment to Commission Rule 14a-8 adopted on August 25, 2010 is stayed pending resolution of petitioners’ petition for review by the Court of Appeals.