Securing Equity in Unsecure Times

Since the beginning of March, 15 companies within the S&P/TSX Composite Index have gone to market to raise capital. All but one did so by raising debt. By comparison, of the largest LSE listed issuers, 23 have raised equity and 10 have raised debt. It is clear – European issuers are favouring equity during this crisis.

Now is the time for Canadian issuers to raise equity.

Early in their response to the COVID-19 crisis, Canadian issuers focused on raising debt. But given the recent strength in the stock market and the risk debt poses to an issuer’s balance sheet, prudent … Continue Reading

Timely, or too soon? Competition Bureau releases guidance on “failing firm” claims in merger reviews

On April 29, in a rare decision based on the “failing firm” rationale, the Competition Bureau announced it would not challenge the acquisition of Total Metal Recovery (TMR) Inc. by American Iron & Metal Company Inc. (AIM), because TMR would have likely exited the market without the merger.

The Bureau released a detailed position statement on the transaction, which will assist parties seeking to rely on a “failing firm” argument. This will be particularly important in the wake of the COVID-19 economic downturn, as many businesses may face failure and seek to be acquired by a competitor if they cannot … Continue Reading

Canadian Government Announces New Policy Applying “Enhanced Scrutiny” to Certain Foreign Investments During COVID-19

Market Contraction

The financial markets and global economy have experienced a precipitous decline and substantial volatility due to the economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This has had a significant and immediate impact on the level of M&A activity, both in Canada and globally, as companies are shelving deals or simply walking away entirely.

In fact, Thomson Reuters, citing data from the financial research firm Refinitiv, recently reported that there was a 57% decline in M&A activity in Q1 2020 as compared to Q1 2019, as Canadian M&A activity dropped to its lowest level since 2015. Globally M&A activity … Continue Reading

Earnouts: Sharing Risk and Reward in Uncertain Times

The turbulent economic environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the M&A world in numerous ways. Among them is the increased focus on earnout provisions, both those in place from legacy deals and those being considered for inclusion in an upcoming transaction. This post provides an overview of the earnout mechanism and describes the alternative approaches dealmakers have at their disposal.

The purpose of an earnout is to allocate risk and reward between a purchaser and a seller in respect of the post-closing success of the acquired business. Earnouts are useful as a means of bridging the valuation gap: … Continue Reading

Private Equity Exits During COVID-19: What the 2008 Crisis Can Teach Us

In a previous post, we discussed the impact of COVID-19 on private equity transactions and how companies can prepare for upcoming economic changes. While opportunities for new investment are on the horizon with private equity funds presently flush with cash, movement on existing investments is likely to slow as sellers wait until markets stabilize before divesting their assets. Recent research suggests that funds with vintage years 2012 through 2017 are facing a lower exit pricing environment, which could lead fund managers to increase their holding periods and delay exiting until they can better recover their investments.

A look at … Continue Reading

Looking Beyond COVID-19: How Companies Can Prepare for the Post-Pandemic Economy

As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the world, it is has undoubtedly taken the global financial markets by storm. Despite the unprecedented social and economic disruptions brought by the pandemic, Ernst & Young’s Capital Confidence Barometer Survey (the Survey) of more than 2,900 C-suite executives globally shows that more than half (56%) of them continue to plan major transformation programs. At the same time, as the extent of COVID-19’s impact on the global economy is gradually revealed, in addition to navigating the current downturn, companies are starting to look beyond the crisis and identify ways to better position their … Continue Reading

Competition Bureau Issues Additional Guidance on Competitor Collaboration During COVID-19 Pandemic

Canadian businesses continue to face unprecedented challenges in light of the rapid spread of COVID-19. On March 20, the commissioner of competition provided some guidance for industry on the continuing application of the Competition Act to competitor collaborations, which we summarized in a recent bulletin. In short, the statement indicated that the Competition Bureau’s pre-existing analytical framework would continue to apply: agreements among competitors to fix prices, allocate markets or restrict output would be pursued criminally, but other agreements among competitors on matters outside these three areas would only be prohibited where they resulted, or were likely to result … Continue Reading

Private Equity Funds & Co-Investment: A Symbiotic Relationship

Broadly, a co-investment is an investment in a specific transaction made by limited partners (LPs) of a main private equity (PE) fund alongside, but not through, such main PE fund. This is often accomplished through a separately structured co-investment vehicle which is governed by a separate set of agreements. Co-investments are attractive to PE funds and LPs alike for a multitude of reasons, including as: a means for PE funds to gain access to supplementary capital; an avenue by which PE funds may make larger single investments that are otherwise unavailable or undesirable; and a means for LPs to attain … Continue Reading

2020 merger review thresholds for Competition Act and Investment Canada Act

The threshold for certain pre-closing net benefit reviews under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) and the threshold for a pre-closing merger notification under the Competition Act have now both been released for 2020. The Commissioner of Competition announced on April 1 that the threshold would remain the same as in 2019.

Competition Act

Canada uses a two-part test for determining whether a pre-merger notification is necessary. The two-part test is based on the size of the parties and the size of the transaction. The transaction size component can be adjusted annually for inflation. Under the size of the parties test, … Continue Reading

Evaluating the Legal Risks of Data Assets in M&A

Data is an essential asset for many businesses, and one that is increasingly acquired through M&A transactions. Identifying and assessing the particular legal challenges of data assets is crucial for acquirers to mitigate the risks associated with these assets and unlock their full value. While issues will depend on the particulars of each transaction, the following is a high-level overview of significant considerations.

What rights in the data assets is the acquiring company receiving?

Evaluating a target company’s rights to their data assets is often more complex and uncertain than for more tangible assets. Such rights are often limited by … Continue Reading

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