Plaintiff law firms continued to challenge nearly all large U.S. merger
and acquisition deals in 2012. These plaintiff law firms filed lawsuits
on behalf of shareholders in 96 percent of M&A deals valued over $500
million and 93 percent of transactions valued over $100 million,
according to Shareholder Litigation Involving Mergers and Acquisitions
by Olga Koumrian, a principal of Cornerstone Research, and Professor
Robert Daines of the Stanford Law School. In addition, deals valued at
over $500 million averaged more than 5 lawsuits per deal.
"It is not plausible to think that 96 percent of target boards did a bad
job selling the firm. Plaintiffs must be filing on cases where there is
no underlying problem," said Professor Daines. "The question is whether
we can tell the good cases from the bad ones and whether the threat of a
lawsuit produces any benefits for shareholders."
© 2013 Cornerstone Research. All rights reserved.
Plaintiff law firms often announced their investigations within hours of
the merger announcement and filed lawsuits an average of 14 days after
the announcement. Most (more than 60 percent) of these cases settled.
The average time between lawsuit filing and settlement was 42 days. In
more than 80 percent of settlements the only relief to shareholders was
additional disclosures. In settlements related to the 2012 deals, the
average agreed-upon plaintiff attorney fee was $725,000. In
disclosure-only settlements, the average requested fees declined for the
third consecutive year to $540,000.
The report's authors found that several factors had influenced the
amount of plaintiff attorney fees awarded by the Delaware Court of
Chancery: the size of the settlement fund, other monetary benefits to
shareholders, the number of suits filed, the time to settlement, and the
overall deal value.
Two of the largest M&A settlements of the last decade were reached
during 2012: $110 million in the El Paso Corp./Kinder Morgan Inc. deal
and $49 million in the acquisition of Delphi Financial Group, Inc. by
Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc. Both of these settlements involved
allegations of significant conflicts of interest-a typical allegation in
most of the lawsuits that resulted in large settlements.
In a new category of lawsuits modeled after M&A litigation, plaintiff
attorneys challenged the compensation disclosures included in annual
proxy statements. In these cases, they asked judges to halt upcoming
shareholder votes unless additional disclosures were made by the
companies involved in the transactions. At least 25 of these lawsuits
were filed last year, and in the last 2 months of 2012 plaintiff law
firms announced investigations of 33 more companies.
The full text of the report is available from Cornerstone
About Cornerstone Research
For more than 25 years, Cornerstone Research staff have provided
economic and financial analysis in all phases of commercial litigation
and regulatory proceedings.
We work with a broad network of testifying experts, including faculty
and industry practitioners, in a distinctive collaboration. Our staff
consultants contribute expertise in economics, finance, accounting, and
marketing, as well as business acumen, familiarity with the litigation
process, and a commitment to produce outstanding results. The experts
with whom we work bring the specialized expertise of researchers or
practitioners required to meet the demands of each assignment.
Cornerstone Research has more than 450 staff and offices in Boston,
Chicago, Los Angeles, Menlo Park, New York, San Francisco, and
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