The Capital Commitment

Proskauer on Private Equity Litigation

On Monday the SEC announced its enforcement results for FY 2020, accompanied by a report from the Director of its Division of Enforcement. This report confirms what we have seen over the past year for private fund managers: although OCIE has been more active on adviser examinations, we’ve seen a bit less enforcement activity. Yet in spite of the headwinds posed by the global pandemic, the Commission brought 715 enforcement actions in FY 2020, representing only a 17% decrease from FY 2019. It also obtained record-breaking monetary remedies with total penalties and disgorgement reaching $4.68 billion, an 8% increase…
Proskauer partner Josh Newville discussed the SEC’s focus on valuation of private fund investments at the recent Securities Enforcement Forum West 2020. The global COVID-19 crisis has added a layer of complexity to the valuation process, requiring special care. As we predicted in our 2020 Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds, ongoing economic uncertainty will likely lead to increased scrutiny on fund managers’ valuation of privately-held portfolio companies from both the SEC and investors. At the recent securities enforcement conference, Josh addressed the following potential risks. In light of recent events surrounding tech unicorn…
We have seen the SEC increase its focus on valuation of privately-held portfolio companies recently. The SEC’s increased focus is in line with our predication made in the Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2020 post from the start of this year, and we expect the trend to continue. The global COVID-19 crisis has added a layer of complexity to the valuation process, which for illiquid assets can be challenging during even calm economic conditions. While some companies have benefited from the changes brought on by COVID-19, the overall market conditions resulting from the crisis have…
Shareholder rights plans, commonly known as “poison pills,” are arrangements that can be used by companies to stave off hostile takeovers or activist investors seeking to exert control over a company without paying a control premium. A typical rights plan, if triggered, would allow all shareholders except the triggering person to purchase additional shares in the company at a substantial discount. The resulting share dilution makes it significantly more expensive for the triggering person to purchase a controlling stake in the company. Because of this, it is extremely rare for a rights plan to be triggered; instead, rights plans can…
Many portfolio companies continue to confront business disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even prior to the pandemic, we were seeing an uptick in litigation claims against sponsors and funds arising out of portfolio companies. The liquidity challenges since March have increased those risks at some companies. For sponsors, many of these risks arise from director positions and conflicts of interest, whether real or alleged. Below we provide tangible ways for fund sponsors to identify risks, educate their directors, and mitigate risk.…
With more people working remotely than ever before in light of COVID-19, firms in the private equity and hedge fund space should review their Regulation S-P privacy and information-safeguarding policies to ensure they are compliant and ready for a prolonged period of remote work. In particular, in view of SEC guidance, firms should focus on several key areas including personal devices and personally identifiable information.…
A new and unprecedented investment environment has been created during the current COVID emergency as every state that has price gouging laws on its books has activated them, and states without official statues are regulating prices by executive order or existing consumer protection and unfair trade practice laws. Never before have price controls been active across the entire United States, and for such a lengthy period of time, requiring fund managers to consider the risks of price gouging enforcement and assess portfolio investments in light of key attributes of price gouging statues. In this article, we review these potential risks…
We at The Capital Commitment blog have previously discussed several steps for fund managers and others to weather the storm brought by COVID-19.  One of those steps is assessing the likelihood of a carried interest return obligation under a fund agreement’s general partner clawback provision (and planning for how to mitigate those obligations, if necessary).  A recent article from our colleagues in Proskauer’s Private Funds group highlights the important role that general partner clawbacks play in ensuring the economic deal between a fund manager and the fund’s limited partners is protected, regardless of how market disruptions, such as those…
The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has significant implications for the asset management industry globally, forcing both sponsors and investors to consider the immediate impact on their investments, and to re-prioritize both immediate and longer term issues.  In the United Kingdom, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) issued a series of communications to firms to address the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. Despite complexities caused by COVID-19, the FCA warns in its recently published 2020/21 Business Plan that it will remain vigilant to potential misconduct and reminds firms that where it finds poor practice, “[it] will clamp down with all relevant force”.…
The impact of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been rapidly evolving, causing disruption in global commerce across a wide range of industries. Private fund managers are not immune to the disruption. According to PitchBook’s latest analysis, private equity and venture ­­capital still have record amounts of dry powder ($2.4 trillion) to weather the storm and step in to provide liquidity to businesses. However, operations, fundraising, deal sourcing, and performance will likely be negatively affected, at least in the near-term, by the economic deterioration caused by COVID-19.…