In acquisitions of group companies, the agreements entered into by the parties are often subject to termination clauses. If the conditions of a termination clause are met, the beneficiary of such clause can choose between terminating the agreement and waiving its termination right in order to obtain the contract's performance. A recent case before the Paris Court of Appeal provides an example of the issues that may arise when a termination clause is insufficiently accurate.
In April 2020 the Financial Markets Regulator (AMF) heavily penalised a hedge fund for omitting to disclose its objectives regarding a takeover bid after it had purchased large amounts of equity swaps in shares of the company subject to the takeover. This decision confirms that the mere fact that equity swaps can give the equity swap holder access to shares of a company that is the subject of a takeover bid is enough for them to fall within the scope of the takeover bid legislation.
Closing is the ultimate stage in an M&A transaction where all parties meet to seal – and celebrate – their agreement; however, it can be a traumatic process due to the time spent in meeting rooms signing and initialising contracts. Lawyers and clients have long hoped for change in this regard. During the COVID-19 lockdown, signs of a change emerged in the form of electronic signatures, as contracts could not be signed in person and scheduled closings were either dematerialised or delayed.
In the context of the worldwide economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU authorities issued guidelines to reinforce the protection of strategic sectors and vulnerable companies from foreign investment. However, the measures taken by France are not as far reaching as in other EU countries, as the French authorities chose to extend the measures to biotechnologies and take precautionary temporary measures with respect to listed companies.
Following the introduction of EU Regulation 2019/452 and the Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation law, a new decree and ministerial order were published and will enter into effect on 1 April 2020. This new set of regulations takes into account the complexity of the existing structures of investment in private M&A transactions and allows a better understanding of the context of a contemplated transaction by the French administration.