Topic: M&A

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Determining fair value in appraisal proceedings: the Supreme Court of Canada dismisses application for leave to appeal in Carlock v ExxonMobil Canada Holdings ULC

On August 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada (the SCC) dismissed the application for leave to appeal in the case of Carlock v ExxonMobil Canada Holdings ULC (Carlock), indicating that the negotiated deal price in a transaction between well-informed, sophisticated, arms-length parties that is the result of a vigorous sale process provides strong objective evidence of fair value in appraisal proceedings before Canadian courts. This aligns with the recent U.S. decision in DFC Global Corp. v Muirfield Value Partners, LP, where the Delaware Supreme Court strongly endorsed deal price as often “the best evidence of … Continue Reading

M&A in the Consumer & Retail Sector: Before and After the Pandemic

This article will provide a high level discussion of M&A trends in the Consumer & Retail (C&R) sector, beginning with a brief summary of the activity we saw in 2019, what trends were anticipated to occur in 2020 and how the COVID-19 pandemic (the Pandemic) is expected to affect M&A in this industry.

Pre-Pandemic Trends

Earlier this year, KPMG published their Global Consumer & Retail M&A Outlook 2020 Report (the KPMG Report) which reviewed deal activity in the C&R sector in 2019 and provided insight about the expected trends for 2020. As was seen in preceding … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Series: Considerations and Modifications of Certain Provisions in M&A Agreements (Valuation and Post-Closing Pricing Mechanisms)

In recognition that businesses are adjusting to their “new normal” and some companies are exploring acquisitions or divestitures as opportunities to strengthen their bottom line, we will be publishing a series of blogs aimed at highlighting some of the considerations and key drafting areas in a purchase and sale agreement that parties to Canadian private M&A transactions should consider in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Valuation Gaps

The impact of COVID-19 creates a lot of challenges in determining the valuation of a target – which ultimately, helps the parties determine the price of the shares or assets being sold/purchased. For … Continue Reading

Fintech M&A Activity in 2020: The Digital Economy is Here

Paying for Payments

While uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down most deal activity, Fintech, in particular the payments space, is a big exception. Recent analysis from KPMG revealed that UK payment deals in the first quarter of 2020 alone exceeded the total number of deals in 2019. Granted, deal sizes were relatively low value, but the incredible rate highlights how the usual frantic activity in this area has only been propelled by the unique challenges this pandemic has presented, namely the need to switch to cashless and contactless transactions. Canadian Fintech is also poised for more deal … Continue Reading

Threading the Needle: Drag-Along Clauses and Asset Deals

While continued economic uncertainty has dampened M&A activity in the past months, the transition from crisis management to recovery mode in the short to medium term will likely see many companies explore potential divestitures in an effort to dispose of underperforming assets, to increase cash on hand and business resiliency and to mitigate risk.

When seeking approval for divestitures, many companies that have a shareholders’ agreement in place rely on drag-along provisions contained therein to quickly approve the transaction. However, in the context of an asset sale, the applicability of a drag-along is not always clear and both sellers and … Continue Reading

(Re) Starting-Up: Corporate records are the key to M&A in the age of COVID-19

M&A as a catalyst for recovery

As many jurisdictions begin to ease restrictions on commercial activities, economic uncertainty remains and the landscape of M&A activity is undoubtedly very different from early 2020 pre-COVID-19. As you begin to lead your company towards recovery, it is worth noting that in the midst of such upheaval, there are a number of promising indicators for the future of M&A activity and steps you can take to maximize your company’s chances of success.

In a recent global survey of 2,900 C-suite executives released at the end of March, EY found that “despite unprecedented social and … Continue Reading

Providing or Procuring Ed-Tech Products? Educate Yourself about Privacy Matters

A new wave of advancement in the education industry has emerged. Schools, universities and colleges are relying more on technology now than they ever have before – and this reliance on technology will only increase in the coming years. Educational institutions are using technological solutions to assist in teaching, engaging in discussions with their students and more recently, in evaluating student performance and proctoring examinations on a remote basis.

As an educational institution entering into contracts with service providers who are offering ed-tech solutions or as a company providing such technological tools to various institutions, it is important to consider … Continue Reading

Diamond In The Rough: Mining as a potential bright spot in M&A

The mining sector has been one of the few bright spots in Canadian M&A since the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the landscape for transactions, with several large deals announced and continuing despite the pandemic.

As with other business sectors, mining has been significantly impacted by regulations and the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. However M&A opportunities for Canadian mining companies have persisted despite these issues.

One of the first significant deals announced during the COVID-19 pandemic was Endeavor Mining Corporation’s combination with SEMAFO Inc., which valued SEMAFO at $1 billion. Other recent deals include Shandong Gold Group acquiring Canadian-based … Continue Reading

Purchasing Companies That Sell Technology to the Government: The Details Matter

Procurement contracts are increasingly used in both Canada and the United States (US), particularly with respect to technological services. Federal procurement expenditures for Canada amount to an average of CAD $22 billion in goods and services annually. Further, the US typically awards USD $500 billion in contracts annually, with Canadian companies actively participating in that market.

Where an acquirer is purchasing or investing in a vendor selling to government entities, the diligence process and subsequent transaction documents should carefully consider the risks arising from such dealings. Government contracting with respect to technological services, such as cloud computing, provide unique risk … Continue Reading

Measuring The Impact Of COVID-19 On Canadian M&A

The future of M&A beyond the COVID-19 pandemic remains fiercely debated and quite unclear. We’ve already seen transactions and their underlying agreements change in a number of ways, including more scrutinized structures, and more detailed negotiations regarding contractual carve-outs, such as material adverse change and force majeure clauses. As previously noted, this will undoubtedly lead to significant changes to M&A transactions in the near future. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown to have a macro-level impact on M&A transactions. Indeed, EY’s recent M&A report “Global Capital Confidence Barometer” (the Report) has analyzed COVID-19’s influence on M&A to-date, and … 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

M&A Activity: 2020 Outlook

J.P. Morgan’s “2020 Global M&A Outlook” (the Report) reviews what we can expect with regards to M&A activity this year. Some of the key takeaways from the Report include:

  • Anticipated Trends in International M&A: We can expect to see an increase in the global M&A market due to greater geopolitical certainty and financially competitive opportunities in regions such as Japan.
  • The Role of Private Equity Firms in the M&A Market: With record levels of capital to deploy, private equity firms will continue to be active players in the M&A market.
  • Shareholder Activism: Shareholder activists will continue to
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Acqui-hiring: What we know and what we need to know from a Canadian perspective

“Acqui-hire” transactions, which are particularly prevalent in the context of start-up technology-related M&A transactions in the U.S., focus on acquiring a company primarily to obtain its employees and their skills, in addition to other possible assets (see our earlier post on acqui-hires). In these type of transactions, it is thought that the greatest perceived value in the target lies in its employee base or segment(s) thereof. If there is also perceived value in the intellectual property (IP) or other assets of the target company, an acquiror might purchase those assets and possibly license them back. In some cases, … Continue Reading

Examining data analytics in M&A

The M&A world continues to evolve as transactions are becoming more diverse and complex. Timelines are getting shorter and acquirors have less time to assess their targets but more pressure to justify their acquisitions. Acquirors must simplify the process of acquiring a target, while simultaneously improving the accuracy of their predictions about the acquisition’s profitability. Could data analytics be one of the solutions?

More data is being created today than ever before. Generally, there are two kinds of data relevant to M&A transactions. The first is data created by companies spontaneously (e.g. social media chatter, CRM data, user … Continue Reading

How to ensure that emails of former employees do not fall through the cracks when purchasing a business

The importance of email in the workplace presents a variety of legal challenges when purchasing a business. Among those are concerns relating to emails and the email addresses of the seller’s employees who are no longer employed by the purchaser after closing.

First, there are confidentiality concerns in connection with former employees receiving information they should no longer have access to. Second, there are concerns that customers or other relevant individuals may be emailing former employees instead of the current employees of the purchaser. This can result in missed sales opportunities, gaps in customer service and a negative impact on … Continue Reading

Let’s see the money! Debt finance options in M&A

In many cases purchasers in an M&A deal will obtain debt financing to cover a portion of the purchase price. Fortunately, in Canada the options for acquisition financing are plentiful. Common ‘types’ include:

Senior Debt: the Bank Loan

Banks and other senior lenders can design a range of tailored solutions to purchasers’ funding needs. Broadly speaking, these loans can be classified as follows:

  • Fixed Term Loan or Revolver: The fixed term loan is credit for a fixed amount to be funded, and paid back, according to a pre-determined schedule. A revolving loan allows a borrower to drawdown, pay back and
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