The Importance of Alleging Control: Between Corwin and MFW

The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation 2018-04-19

Posted by Steven M. Haas and Meghan Garrant, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, on Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editor's Note: Steven M. Haas is a partner and Meghan Garrant is an associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. This post is based on a Hunton Andrews Kurth publication, and is part of the Delaware law series; links to other posts in the series are available hereRelated research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Independent Directors and Controlling Shareholders, by Lucian Bebchuk and Assaf Hamdani (discussed on the Forum here).

The Delaware Court of Chancery recently held that individual members of Rouse Properties Inc.’s board of directors, who negotiated and approved a merger with the company’s largest stockholder in 2016, were protected under Corwin [1] by the business judgment rule from claims by plaintiff stockholders that the board, allegedly controlled by the stockholder, had breached their fiduciary duties.

Background

In Re Rouse Properties, Inc. Fiduciary Litigation [2] arose out of the 2016 merger between Rouse Properties Inc. (“Rouse”), a Delaware corporation and real estate investment trust, and Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. (“Brookfield”), a Canadian global asset management corporation. In January 2016, Brookfield, owning 33.5% of the outstanding shares of Rouse, made an offer to acquire all of Rouse’s remaining outstanding shares for $17 per share. In response, Rouse formed a special committee of independent directors to negotiate with Brookfield and consider strategic alternatives. The parties ultimately agreed on a price of $18.25 per share and signed a merger agreement, which was subsequently approved by 82.44% of Rouse’s non-Brookfield-affiliated shares.

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