For the first time, the Supreme Court has upheld a security right granted under German law, even though the asset had been transferred to Austria. Previously, such rights were terminated once the asset was moved from Germany to Austria. The decision will substantially facilitate the financing of companies with cross-border business.
The Constitutional Court recently ruled on whether the Squeeze-Out Act is compatible with the Constitution. The plaintiff argued that certain provisions of the Squeeze-Out Act violate the Constitution because they restrict shareholders' property rights and the principle of equality (rights enshrined in both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights). However, the Constitutional Court held that this was not the case.
Companies regularly store information about their customers, clients, employees, investors, partners and vendors. Privacy and data security are therefore important aspects of most M&A transactions. Although the risk of non-compliance with privacy laws may result in severe negative consequences, many M&A agreements still lack adequate privacy-related representations and warranties.
In 2014 the Austrian Supreme Court submitted a request to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of EU law regarding cross-border mergers. The ECJ recently ruled that in cases of merger by acquisition, all contracts entered into by the transferor company pass to the acquiring company without novation. Thus, the law applicable to the contracts before the merger also applies to the underlying contracts after the merger.
In a decision that provides additional certainty to dissenting shareholders, the Grand Court has rejected a company's efforts to recast the procedural framework for appraisal proceedings brought under Section 238 of the Companies Law (as revised). This decision follows the significant 2019 ruling of Chief Justice Smellie in JA Solar, which has become the touchstone for directions orders in Section 238 proceedings.
The government recently approved the Private Funds Bill 2020 and an amendment to the Mutual Funds Law (2020 Revision). The legislation is the result of certain EU and other international recommendations and has been developed to align the Cayman Islands investment fund regulatory regime with those of other jurisdictions. This article summarises the key features of both pieces of legislation.
There has been a noticeable rise in foreign investments in Cyprus, with an upswing in mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. This has been the result of various reforms and legislative amendments that have added legal certainty and contributed to the creation of a coherent statutory framework. International investors might well consider these factors when assessing Cyprus as an investment hub for future transactions in the M&A market post-Brexit.
Cyprus boasts an attractive merger and reorganisation regime not only locally (ie, between Cyprus entities), but also at an EU level. Besides the well-known advantages of merging two companies (eg, the transfer of assets and liabilities without the need for the novation of contracts or other cumbersome procedures), mergers and reorganisations in Cyprus are also attractive from a tax perspective, as those which fall within the scope of the law may result in a total tax exemption in Cyprus.
The disclosure, transfer and processing of data raises concerns at several stages of the due diligence process during a transaction and undoubtedly makes things more complicated. Unless companies can navigate their way around the rules set out by the General Data Protection Regulation, it is highly likely that they will encounter significant difficulties and potential data protection breaches in the context of due diligence work undertaken for M&A transactions.
Closing is the ultimate stage in an M&A transaction where all parties meet to seal – and celebrate – their agreement; however, it can be a traumatic process due to the time spent in meeting rooms signing and initialising contracts. Lawyers and clients have long hoped for change in this regard. During the COVID-19 lockdown, signs of a change emerged in the form of electronic signatures, as contracts could not be signed in person and scheduled closings were either dematerialised or delayed.
In the context of the worldwide economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU authorities issued guidelines to reinforce the protection of strategic sectors and vulnerable companies from foreign investment. However, the measures taken by France are not as far reaching as in other EU countries, as the French authorities chose to extend the measures to biotechnologies and take precautionary temporary measures with respect to listed companies.
Following the introduction of EU Regulation 2019/452 and the Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation law, a new decree and ministerial order were published and will enter into effect on 1 April 2020. This new set of regulations takes into account the complexity of the existing structures of investment in private M&A transactions and allows a better understanding of the context of a contemplated transaction by the French administration.
A recent Supreme Court decision validates the substitution mechanisms in the context of M&A transactions. The mechanism is particularly helpful in M&A transactions where a sponsor signs the initial agreements and, once a structure has been agreed, substitutes a special purpose vehicle to carry out the transaction. However, M&A practitioners should remain vigilant when drafting substitution clauses to ensure that they clearly state the parties' intentions as to the full release (or not) of the original party.
The Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation was recently adopted. This ambitious law introduces (among other things) a new arsenal for the French state to monitor foreign investment in sensitive industries. It has also brought with it several answers, clarifications and improvements to existing rules applicable to the preferred shares and free share allocation plans regimes, which will undoubtedly be useful to investors and companies undertaking private M&A transactions.