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Full-Text Articles in Law

Being True To Trulia: Do Disclosure-Only Settlements In Merger Objection Lawsuits Harm Shareholders?, Eric L. Talley, Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci Jan 2019

Being True To Trulia: Do Disclosure-Only Settlements In Merger Objection Lawsuits Harm Shareholders?, Eric L. Talley, Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Faculty Scholarship

A significant debate within mergers and acquisitions law concerns the explosive popularity of the “merger objection lawsuit” (MOL), a shareholder action seeking to enjoin an announced deal on fiduciary duty grounds. MOLs blossomed during the Financial Crisis, becoming popularly associated with “shareholder shakedowns,” whereby quick-triggered plaintiff attorneys would file against – and then rapidly settle with – acquirers, typically on non-monetary terms containing modest added disclosures in exchange for blanket class releases and attorney fee awards. This practice unleashed a torrent of criticism from lawyers, commentators, academics, and (ultimately) judges, culminating in a doctrinal shift in Delaware law in the January 2016 ...


Long-Term Bias, Eric L. Talley, Michal Barzuza Jan 2019

Long-Term Bias, Eric L. Talley, Michal Barzuza

Faculty Scholarship

An emerging consensus in certain legal, business, and scholarly communities maintains that corporate managers are pressured unduly into chasing short-term gains at the expense of superior long-term prospects. The forces inducing managerial myopia are easy to spot, typically embodied by activist hedge funds and Wall Street gadflies with outsized appetites for next quarter’s earnings. Warnings about the dangers of “short termism” have become so well established, in fact, that they are now driving changes to mainstream practice, as courts, regulators and practitioners fashion legal and transactional constraints designed to insulate firms and managers from the influence of investor short-termism ...


Activist Directors And Agency Costs: What Happens When An Activist Director Goes On The Board?, John C. Coffee Jr., Robert J. Jackson Jr., Joshua Mitts, Robert Bishop Jan 2018

Activist Directors And Agency Costs: What Happens When An Activist Director Goes On The Board?, John C. Coffee Jr., Robert J. Jackson Jr., Joshua Mitts, Robert Bishop

Faculty Scholarship

We develop and apply a new and more rigorous methodology by which to measure and understand both insider trading and the agency costs of hedge fund activism. We use quantitative data to show a systematic relationship between the appointment of a hedge fund nominated director to a corporate board and an increase in informed trading in that corporation’s stock (with the relationship being most pronounced when the fund’s slate of directors includes a hedge fund employee). This finding is important from two different perspectives. First, from a governance perspective, activist hedge funds represent a new and potent force ...


Economic Democracy And Enterprise Form In Finance, William H. Simon Jan 2018

Economic Democracy And Enterprise Form In Finance, William H. Simon

Faculty Scholarship

This comment – a contribution to a project on “democratizing finance” – considers the relative advantages of alternative enterprise forms from the point of view of public accountability. It compares the business corporation to the state agency or authority, the cooperative, the state corporation, and the charitable nonprofit. These forms can be distinguished in terms of whether they aspire to enhance general electoral democracy or stakeholder democracy and in terms of whether their democratic controls operate directly or indirectly. I suggest that the more indirect democratic forms may be more promising than the more direct ones. I also argue that the project ...


Valuation Disputes In Corporate Bankruptcy, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2018

Valuation Disputes In Corporate Bankruptcy, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Prior scholarship points to disagreements about valuation and judicial valuation error as key drivers of Chapter 11 outcomes. Avoiding valuation disputes and valuation errors is also the underlying driver of most proposed reforms, from Baird’s auctions to Bebchuk’s options. In this paper, we undertake a detailed examination of bankruptcy court opinions involving valuation disputes. Our paper has two goals. The first is to understand how parties and their expert witnesses justify their opposing views to the judge, and how judges decide between them. The second is to provide practical guidance to judges in resolving valuation disputes. We document ...


Economic Individualism And Preference Formation, Andrzej Rapaczynski Jan 2018

Economic Individualism And Preference Formation, Andrzej Rapaczynski

Faculty Scholarship

This note examines some issues involved in an attempt to go beyond the assumption, long-made by most economists, that people’s preferences are simply to be treated as “given” and that the principle of consumer sovereignty entails a refusal to consider some (or some people’s) revealed preferences as more authoritative than others. The most important break with that assumption has been the development of behavioral economics, which shows that people may not always know what they really want, and that economists have to develop a more critical approach, distinguishing people’s true preferences from those that are merely apparent ...


The Macpherson-Henningsen Puzzle, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2017

The Macpherson-Henningsen Puzzle, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

In the landmark case of MacPherson v. Buick, an automobile company was held liable for negligence notwithstanding a lack of privity with the injured driver. Four decades later, in Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors, the court held unconscionable the standard automobile company warranty which limited its responsibility to repair and replacement, even in a case involving physical injury. This suggests a puzzle: if it were so easy for firms to contract out of liability, did MacPherson accomplish anything?


Appraisal Arbitrage And Shareholder Value, Scott Callahan, Darius Palia, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Appraisal Arbitrage And Shareholder Value, Scott Callahan, Darius Palia, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Post-merger appraisal rights have been the focus of heated controversy within mergers and acquisitions circles in recent years. Traditionally perceived as an arcane and cabalistic proceeding, the appraisal action has recently come to occupy center stage through the ascendancy of appraisal arbitrage-whereby investors purchase target-company shares shortly after an announcement principally to pursue appraisal. Such strategies became more feasible and profitable a decade ago, on the heels of two seemingly technocratic reforms in Delaware: (i) the statutory codification of prejudgment interest, pegging a presumptive rate at five percent above the federal discount rate; and (ii) the Transkaryotic opinion, which effectively ...


Investor-Driven Financial Innovation, Kathryn Judge Jan 2017

Investor-Driven Financial Innovation, Kathryn Judge

Faculty Scholarship

Financial regulations often encourage or require market participants to hold particular types of financial assets. One unintended consequence of this form of regulation is that it can spur innovation to increase the effective supply of favored assets. This Article examines when and how changes in the law prompt the spread of “investor-driven financial innovations.” Weaving together theory, recent empirical findings, and illustrations, this Article provides an overview of why investors prefer certain types of financial assets to others, how markets respond, and how the spread of investor-driven innovations can transform the structure of the financial system. This examination suggests that ...


Can Restitution Save Fragile Spiderless Networks?, Ariel Porat, Robert E. Scott Jan 2017

Can Restitution Save Fragile Spiderless Networks?, Ariel Porat, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay examines the dramatic increase in business networks in recent decades and considers whether the law can play a useful role in supporting the efficient functioning of these inter-firm relationships for coordination and cooperation. Repeat play, reputational sanctions, and norms of trust and reciprocity are the common explanations for the flourishing of networks in many industries and places. But the evidence also shows that a certain class of networks often fail to survive or function effectively and beneficial cooperation among these network members is impaired. These fragile networks develop organically without a controlling party or hierarchy at the center ...


Border Adjustments And The Conservation Of Tax Planning, David M. Schizer Jan 2017

Border Adjustments And The Conservation Of Tax Planning, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

This article is based on Schizer’s keynote address at the 17th annual NYU-KPMG Tax Symposium on March 10.

In this article, Schizer argues that U.S. corporate and shareholder taxes need to be reformed, and the corporate rate should be much lower. In reforming this dysfunctional regime, according to Schizer, Congress should keep both of these taxes as a form of built-in redundancy; if one tax is avoided, the other can still be collected. More generally, Congress should be wary of Utopian solutions. Tax reform is more likely to change tax planning than to eliminate it entirely, Schizer concludes ...


Law And Corporate Governance, Robert P. Bartlett, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Law And Corporate Governance, Robert P. Bartlett, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Pragmatic and effective research on corporate governance often turns critically on appreciating the legal institutions surrounding corporate entities – yet such nuances are often unfamiliar or poorly specified to economists and other social scientists without legal training. This chapter organizes and discusses key legal concepts of corporate governance, including statutes, regulations, and jurisprudential doctrines that “govern governance” in private and public companies, with concentration on the for-profit corporation. We review the literature concerning the nature and purpose of the corporation, the objects of fiduciary obligations, the means for decision making within the firm, as well as the overlay of state and ...


The Agency Costs Of Activism: Information Leakage, Thwarted Majorities, And The Public Morality, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 2017

The Agency Costs Of Activism: Information Leakage, Thwarted Majorities, And The Public Morality, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Few doubt that hedge fund activism has radically changed corporate governance in the United States – for better or for worse. Proponents see activists as desirable agents of change who intentionally invest in underperforming companies to organize more passive shareholders to support their proposals to change the target’s business model and/or management. So viewed, the process is fundamentally democratic, with institutional shareholders determining whether or not to support the activist’s proposals.

Skeptics respond that things do not work this simply. Actual proxy contests are few, and most activist engagements are resolved through private settlement negotiations between the activists ...


Patently Risky: Framing, Innovation And Entrepreneurial Preferences, Elizabeth Hoffman, David L. Schwartz, Matthew L. Spitzer, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Patently Risky: Framing, Innovation And Entrepreneurial Preferences, Elizabeth Hoffman, David L. Schwartz, Matthew L. Spitzer, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Innovation policy balances static monopoly rights against dynamic entrepreneurial incentives. In striking this balance, researchers commonly presume that decision makers in innovative settings react to their economic environments in a manner similar to their counterparts in other contexts. This paper reports on a series of experiments that call this presumption into question. Subjects were offered a choice between a sure thing and a risky choice, where our principal manipulation was to alter the decisional frame. Subjects in the control group confronted an unadorned choice between safe and risky options; subjects in the Invest Frame, in contrast, were told that the ...


Can Restitution Save Fragile Spiderless Networks?, Ariel Porat, Robert E. Scott Jan 2017

Can Restitution Save Fragile Spiderless Networks?, Ariel Porat, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay examines the dramatic increase in business networks in recent decades and considers whether the law can play a useful role in supporting the efficient functioning of these inter-firm relationships for coordination and cooperation. Repeat play, reputational sanctions, and norms of trust and reciprocity are the common explanations for the flourishing of networks in many industries and places. But the evidence also shows that a certain class of networks often fail to survive or function effectively and beneficial cooperation among these network members is impaired. These fragile networks develop organically without a controlling party or hierarchy at the center ...


Defensive Tactics And Optimal Search: A Simulation Approach, Ronald J. Gilson, Alan Schwartz Jan 2016

Defensive Tactics And Optimal Search: A Simulation Approach, Ronald J. Gilson, Alan Schwartz

Faculty Scholarship

The appropriate division of authority between a company’s board and its shareholders has been the central issue in the corporate governance debate for decades. This issue presents most vividly for defensive tactics: the extent to which the board of a potential acquisition target is allowed to prevent the shareholders from responding directly to a hostile bid. In the US today, the board’s power is extensive; control largely lies with the board. Normative evaluations of current law face two obstacles. First, defensive tactics raise the social welfare question whether, or to what extent, these tactics deter ex ante efficient ...


Corporate Governance Changes As A Signal: Contextualizing The Performance Link, Merritt B. Fox, Ronald J. Gilson, Darius Palia Jan 2016

Corporate Governance Changes As A Signal: Contextualizing The Performance Link, Merritt B. Fox, Ronald J. Gilson, Darius Palia

Faculty Scholarship

Promoting “good” corporate governance has become an important concern. One result has been the creation of indexes that purport to measure the quality of a firm’s corporate governance structure. Prior scholarship reports a positive relationship between firms with good corporate governance index ratings and stock-price-based measures of a firm’s ability to create share value, such as Tobin’s Q. Little work, however, explores why we observe this relationship.

We hypothesize one reason for the relationship is that a rating-altering change in corporate governance structure can be a signal concerning the quality of a firm’s management. Changes in ...


The New Business Rule And Compensation For Lost Profits, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2016

The New Business Rule And Compensation For Lost Profits, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

For many years most American jurisdictions applied the “new business” rule, denying recovery of lost profits for new businesses. The majority position today rejects the per se rule, treating the issue as a rule of evidence — lost profits must be proved with “reasonable certainty.” This paper argues that the new business rule ought not be viewed as merely a matter of whether the evidence is sufficient to surmount the “reasonable certainty” hurdle. The confusion arises because courts have lumped together a number of different problems. By breaking these out, a more nuanced picture emerges. For one category, in particular, the ...


From Corporate Law To Corporate Governance, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2016

From Corporate Law To Corporate Governance, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

This essay is a contribution to the forthcoming Oxford University Press Handbook of Corporate Law and Governance edited by Jeffery Gordon and Georg Ringe. In the 1960s and 1970s, corporate law and finance scholars recognized that neither discipline was doing a very good job of explaining how corporations were really structured and performed. For legal scholars, Yale Law School professor and then Stanford Law School dean Bayless Manning confessed that corporate law has “nothing left but our great empty corporation statutes – towering skyscrapers of rusted girders, internally welded together and containing nothing but wind.” Michael Jensen and William Meckling made ...


Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel V. Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley Jan 2016

Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel V. Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

For centuries, the duty of loyalty has been the hallowed centerpiece of fiduciary obligation, widely considered one of the few “mandatory” rules of corporate law. That view, however, is no longer true. Beginning in 2000, Delaware dramatically departed from tradition by granting incorporated entities a statutory right to waive a crucial part of the duty of loyalty: the corporate opportunities doctrine. Other states have since followed Delaware’s lead, similarly permitting firms to execute “corporate opportunity waivers.” Surprisingly, more than fifteen years into this reform experiment, no empirical study has attempted to measure either the corporate response to these reforms ...


Impact Investing As A Form Of Lobbying And Its Corporate-Governance Effects, Andrzej Rapaczynski Jan 2016

Impact Investing As A Form Of Lobbying And Its Corporate-Governance Effects, Andrzej Rapaczynski

Faculty Scholarship

Impact investment is attractive to many because it seems to combine support for progressive causes with an apparent commitment to the principles of a market economy. In fact, however, a rational impact investor is not simply creating demand for certain types of corporate actions; he/she is attempting to use corporate governance mechanisms to influence fiduciary decisions of the management. The cost of this tactic for the health of the capitalist economy is potentially very considerable. The American capitalist system relies heavily on a relatively fragile corporate governance arrangement in which the agency problems of a modern corporation are minimized ...


Appraising The "Merger Price" Appraisal Rule, Albert H. Choi, Eric L. Talley Jan 2016

Appraising The "Merger Price" Appraisal Rule, Albert H. Choi, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

This paper develops an auction design framework to study how best to measure “fair value” in post-merger appraisal proceedings. Our inquiry spotlights an approach recently embraced by some courts benchmarking fair value against the merger price itself. We show that merger price deference effectively nullifies the role that appraisal can potentially play in establishing a de facto reserve price for company auctions, thereby depressing both acquisition prices and target shareholders’ expected welfare relative to both the optimal appraisal policy and a variety of other valuation measures. We also examine conditions under which deference to the merger price can be optimal ...


A Model Company Act And A Model Company Court, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2016

A Model Company Act And A Model Company Court, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

This paper is a contribution to a symposium on the European Model Company Act (“EMCA”) in which I argue that a model company court powerfully complements the EMCA. A particular characteristic of company law complicates the intermediating role of a model act in a federal system. Because complex corporate transactions inevitably are associated with significant uncertainty, especially when they present conflicts of interest, transaction designers and legislative drafters tend to frame applicable contractual and legal rules as standards, such as fairness and equal treatment, rather than as rules. In turn, the effectiveness of a standard in the face of complexity ...


A Machine Learning Classifier For Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel V. Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley Jan 2016

A Machine Learning Classifier For Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel V. Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Rauterberg & Talley (2017) develop a data set of “corporate opportunity waivers” (COWs) – significant contractual modifications of fiduciary duties – sampled from SEC filings. Part of their analysis utilizes a machine learning (ML) classifier to extend their data set beyond the hand-coded sample. Because the ML approach is likely unfamiliar to some readers, and in the light of its great potential across other areas of law and finance research, this note explains the basic components using a simple example, and it demonstrates strategies for calibrating and evaluating the classifier.


Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer Jan 2016

Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The US taxes both corporations and shareholders on corporate profits. In principle, the U.S. could rely on only one of these taxes, as many commentators have suggested. Although choosing to tax the corporation or its owners may seem like taking money from one pocket or the other, this Essay emphasizes a key difference: corporate and shareholder taxes prompt different tax planning. Relying on one or the other mitigates some distortions and leaks, while exacerbating others. As a result, choosing which tax to impose is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis.

In response to these dualing distortions, this Essay recommends ...


Short-Termism And Long-Termism, Michal Barzuza, Eric L. Talley Jan 2016

Short-Termism And Long-Termism, Michal Barzuza, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

A significant debate in corporate law and finance concerns the role of activist investors (especially hedge funds) in corporate governance. Activists, it is often alleged, imprudently privilege short term earnings over superior (but less liquid) long term investments. Activists counter that they target managers who unjustifiably cling to questionable strategies. While this debate is hardly new, it has grown increasingly fractious of late. We analyze the activism debate within a theoretical securities-market setting. In our framework – which draws from an emerging literature in empirical and experimental finance – managers are differentially overconfident (causing them to favor long-term projects), while investors are ...


Preserving The Corporate Superego In A Time Of Activism: An Essay On Ethics And Economics, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 2016

Preserving The Corporate Superego In A Time Of Activism: An Essay On Ethics And Economics, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

This essay focuses on the impact of recent changes in corporate governance on ethical behavior within the public corporation. It argues that a style of corporate behavior – one characterized by a risk tolerant, even reckless, pursuit of short-term profits and a disregard for the interests of non-shareholder constituencies – is attributable in significant part to recent changes in corporate governance, including the rise of hedge fund activism, greater use of incentive compensation, and the appearance of blockholder directors. It then surveys feasible responses intended to strengthen the role of the boards as the corporation’s conscience and superego. Given the difficulty ...


The Wolf At The Door: The Impact Of Hedge Fund Activism On Corporate Governance, John C. Coffee Jr., Darius Palia Jan 2015

The Wolf At The Door: The Impact Of Hedge Fund Activism On Corporate Governance, John C. Coffee Jr., Darius Palia

Faculty Scholarship

Hedge fund activism has increased almost hyperbolically. Although some view this trend optimistically as a means for bridging the separation of ownership and control, we review the evidence and find it far more mixed. In particular, engagements by activist hedge funds appear to be producing a significant externality: severe cut-backs in long-term investment (and particularly a reduction in investment in research and development) by both the targeted firms and other firms not targeted but still deterred from making such investments.

We begin by surveying the regulatory and institutional developments that have reduced the costs and increased the expected payoff from ...


Licensing Commercial Value: From Copyright To Trademarks And Back, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2015

Licensing Commercial Value: From Copyright To Trademarks And Back, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

Copyright and trademarks often overlap, particularly in visual characters. The same figure may qualify as a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work on the one hand, and as a registered (or at least used) trademark on the other. The two rights, though resting on distinct foundations, tend to be licensed together. Trademarks symbolize the goodwill of the producer, and are protected insofar as copying that symbol is likely to confuse consumers as to the source or approval of the goods or services in connection with which the mark is used. For famous marks, the dilution action grants a right against uses ...


Reinterpreting The Status-Contract Divide: The Case Of Fiduciaries, Hanoch Dagan, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2015

Reinterpreting The Status-Contract Divide: The Case Of Fiduciaries, Hanoch Dagan, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The distinction between status and contract permeates legal analyses of categories of cooperative interpersonal interactions in which one party has particular obligations to the other. But the current binary understanding of the distinction has facilitated its use as a foil and thus undermined its conceptual and normative significance. This predicament is understandable given that the innate, comprehensive and inalienable status as well as the wholly open-ended contract anticipated by commentators are corner – rather than core – alternatives in a liberal polity. Hence, to clarify these normative debates we introduce two further, intermediate conceptions: office and contract type. Like the innate status ...