In valuing the shares of a minority shareholder, a trial court must consider any valuation technique that is generally acceptable in the financial communities. Determining fair value is an art, not a science.
Directors that hold a majority interest in a closely held business have a duty to deal fairly with the minority and in a merger to make full and fair disclosures and offer a fair price in exchange for shares.
A minority shareholder that sits by or acquiesces to wrongful conduct by the majority waives the right to later pursue a claim based on that behavior.
Fee awards are available only to shareholders with a statutory right to dissent and in the discretion of the judge.
Casey v. Brennan, 344 N.J. Super. 83 (App. Div. 2001)
Statutes: NJSA 14A:11-1, NJSA 14A11-3; NJSA 14A:6-14: NJSA 14A:11-6; NJSA 14A:11-10
Action challenging the valuation provided by controlling directors (also majority shareholders) in corporate reorganization as plan to reduce number of shareholders to 75 or less to qualify for subchapter S status. Directors approved plan of merger at $73 a share in reorganization plan requiring small shareholders to sell. Trial Judge set value at $90 a share. (Opinion here.) The Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division. (Opinion here.)
Facts: Community Bank adopted a plan of merger as part of a plan of reorganization that would reduce the number of shareholders by acquring holdings of persons with less than 15,000 sharesat a price of $73 per share. Statutory dissenters and non-statutory dissenters brought various actions consolidated for trial. Trial court holding that proxy statement was misleading and provided non-statutory dissenters with right to sue, and determined fair value $90 per share. Affirmed in part and remanded for reconsideration of valuation issues that were rejected by trial court. Continue reading