The Capital Commitment

Proskauer on Private Equity Litigation

Michael R. Hackett

Michael R. Hackett

Senior Counsel

Michael R. Hackett is a senior counsel in the Litigation Department and a member of the Asset Management Litigation practice. His practice focuses on disputes and regulation involving private funds, including private equity, venture capital, hedge, real estate and private credit funds, as well as other limited partnerships, where he regularly advises funds, fund sponsors, investment advisers and institutional and individual investors.

Mike’s experience representing private fund clients runs the gamut, from control contests within advisers, to disputes between limited partners and general partners, to representation of investment advisers in connection with regulatory examinations, investigations and enforcement matters.  Mike also routinely represents fund sponsors and their portfolio companies, including in significant post-closing disputes.

Subscribe to all posts by Michael R. Hackett

Third Circuit Discusses Important Differences Between Board Observers and Directors

The Third Circuit recently issued an important decision for private fund advisors who serve on corporate boards.  In a precedential decision on a matter of first impression, the Third Circuit distinguished the role of nonvoting board observers from the function of formal corporate directors.  And while the decision was issued in the context of liability … Continue Reading

Rent the Runway Walks into the Litigation Spotlight

There’s a new unicorn in town, and this time, it isn’t just another tech company. Rent the Runway, also known as RTR, is now officially valued at over $1 billion after its most recent funding round which raised $125 million. The high-end rental clothing brand was launched in 2009 by female founders, including co-founder and CEO Jennifer … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Declines Post-Filing Use of Section 220 Books and Records Inspection Request

A recent decision by the Delaware Chancery Court suggests that a litigant might forego the ability to file a books and records request if it waits to do so until after the lawsuit is filed. Last month the Delaware Chancery Court dismissed just such an action, characterizing the request for a books and records inspection … Continue Reading

The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2019

An increasingly sophisticated and active OCIE division, innovative market disruptors, a maturing credit cycle, and a philosophical change in how the private fund industry views and utilizes litigation are likely to lead to increased regulatory scrutiny and litigation risk for advisers (and their funds) in 2019.  With that backdrop, we are pleased to present our … Continue Reading

2018 Annual Review and 2019 Outlook Highlights Private Equity Fund Litigation Risk Areas

In our recently released 2018 Annual Review and 2019 Outlook for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds and Other Private Funds, we note that innovative market disruptors, a maturing credit cycle, and a philosophical change in how the industry views and utilizes litigation are likely to lead to increased litigation risk for advisers (and their funds) … Continue Reading

SEC Settles with Private Equity Fund Adviser over Alleged Conflicts of Interest

As a sign that the SEC is continuing to actively pursue private equity fund advisers, on April 24, 2018, the SEC announced a settlement with private equity fund adviser WCAS Management Corporation (WCAS) related to allegations of undisclosed conflicts of interest. The specific conflicts resulted from an allegedly undisclosed contractual arrangement whereby a portion of … Continue Reading

The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2018

With the public equity markets at an all-time high and private equity fund raising setting new records, it might seem counterintuitive to forecast litigation and regulatory risks.  The opposite is true.  Disputes typically follow capital, and the steeper the growth curve, the greater the risk of litigation and regulatory scrutiny.  With that backdrop, we are … Continue Reading

Proskauer Private Investment Funds Group Releases Annual Review and Outlook

Proskauer’s Private Investment Funds Group recently released its 2017 Annual Review and Outlook for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds and Other Private Funds.  This yearly publication provides a summary of some of the significant changes and developments that occurred in the past year in the private equity and hedge funds space, as well as certain … Continue Reading

SEC Releases FY 2017 Enforcement Results: Maintaining Focus on Individual Accountability and Investment Advisers

Last night, the SEC announced its enforcement results for the Fiscal Year 2017, accompanied by a report from the Co-Directors of its Division of Enforcement.  While the total number of actions was down slightly from 2016, the percentage of those cases involving investment advisers or investment companies – 18% – remained consistent, and amounted to … Continue Reading

Pay-to-Play – SEC Expands Scope of Rule to CABs

The SEC’s pay-to-play rule has given advisers reason to worry about potential foot faults since its adoption. As we have noted in prior posts, the rule is filled with landmines and is therefore difficult to navigate.  As was evident from the SEC’s announcement of a series of settlements of alleged pay-to-play violations in early 2017, even … Continue Reading

SEC Flags the Top Six Advertising Rule Deficiencies for Investment Advisers

The SEC staff recently published an alert highlighting the most common deficiencies seen in investment advisers’ marketing materials.  Based on its recent examinations and initiatives, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) issued its risk alert to highlight compliance issues relating to Rule 206(4)-1 (the “Advertising Rule”).  Here are the top six: Misleading Performance … Continue Reading

SEC Chairman Identifies Guiding Principles

On July 12, 2017, newly appointed SEC Chairman Jay Clayton delivered a speech at the non-partisan Economic Club of New York wherein he set forth several high-level guiding principles for the agency.  In general, these remarks focused on (i) ensuring protections for retail investors, (ii) positioning the SEC as a regulator which is able to … Continue Reading

SEC Speaks: 2017 Enforcement and Exam Trends for Private Funds

At the recent SEC Speaks program, sponsored by PLI, senior SEC staff members provided valuable insight into the SEC’s 2017 priorities for private funds.  While the tenor of this year’s discussion seemed to focus more on retail investors, the staff discussed several topics that private fund advisers should keep in mind from both an enforcement … Continue Reading

The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2017

Private investment funds and advisers are likely to face new regulatory challenges and increased litigation risks in 2017, not only because of a change in the administration, but also because many advisers have not corrected and aligned past practices with current regulatory guidance.  In this post, we have highlighted ten areas that should be on … Continue Reading

SEC Staff Announces 2017 OCIE Examination Priorities

On January 12, 2017, the staff of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its annual announcement on examination priorities in the coming calendar year. The 2017 examination priorities are organized around three thematic areas: (i) examining matters of importance to retail investors; (ii) focusing on risks … Continue Reading

Outgoing SEC Chair Reflects on the Agency’s Enforcement Program and Advocates for Increased Authority

On November 18, 2016, outgoing SEC Chair Mary Jo White delivered a speech at New York University School of Law entitled “A New Model for SEC Enforcement: Producing Bold and Unrelenting Results.”  Chair White’s remarks covered a broad range of enforcement initiatives and outcomes from her tenure as SEC Chair.  This post summarizes the aspects … Continue Reading

SEC Shake-Up: President-Elect Trump Expected to Make Key Appointments

In the wake of the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, Mary Jo White has announced her intent to step down from her role as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Chair White, the 31st and one of the longest-serving Chairs of the SEC, will be leaving her … Continue Reading

Fund Restructurings: How to Navigate a Conflict-Rich Environment

The number of private equity fund restructurings is likely to rise in the coming years.  The current economic expansion will inevitably come to an end (at 87 months and counting, this expansion is already the third longest post-WWII) making exits more challenging, just as the terms expire on funds raised during the “golden era” (2003-2007). … Continue Reading

SEC Announces Record Number of Investment Adviser Cases for FY 2016

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its enforcement results for fiscal year 2016, reaching new highs in the number of actions filed and money ordered forfeited through disgorgement and penalties.  The SEC noted that it brought the most ever cases involving investment advisers or investment companies, including 8 enforcement actions related to private equity advisers, an area … Continue Reading

Putting a Premium on Illiquidity: Some Reflections on the SEC’s Scrutiny of Valuation Practices and Disclosures

Valuation is typically near the top of the list when the SEC’s enforcement division and exam staff disclose their priority topics for private funds.  We expect that trend to continue and, if anything, the focus on valuation is likely to increase, especially as the market for unicorns shakes out. That said, the SEC rarely challenges … Continue Reading

SEC Whistleblower Settlement Reminds Fund Sponsors to Review Organizational Policies and Procedures

A recent SEC settlement of whistleblower charges should serve as a useful reminder for private fund sponsors to conduct a comprehensive review of their policies and procedures. On August 10, 2016, the SEC announced that BlueLinx Holdings Inc., an Atlanta-based building products distributor, had settled charges that it violated securities laws by using severance agreements … Continue Reading

SEC Announces Settlement with Adviser Found to Have Acted as an Unregistered Broker

The SEC is continuing its pattern of establishing “standards of conduct” for the private equity industry through speeches, enforcement actions, and public settlements. After foreshadowing its concerns in various speeches over the last three years, the SEC recently returned its attention to the “unregistered broker” issue.  In a settlement announced last week, the SEC asserted … Continue Reading

Theranos, the SEC’s Pursuit of Unicorns, and Taking the Reins of Internal Controls

In the wake of a host of negative developments, Theranos Inc. is reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The SEC and DOJ inquiries are likely to focus on whether Theranos misled investors about the state of its technology and operations.  Even beyond potential misrepresentation issues, we believe … Continue Reading

Portfolio Company Litigation: Some Practical Considerations for Board-Designees of Private Funds

Individuals affiliated with private fund managers are increasingly being named as defendants in lawsuits involving fund portfolio companies, particularly where the fund controls one or more seats on the portfolio company’s board, or where an individual affiliated with the fund sponsor serves as a senior executive at the portfolio company. When an individual affiliated with … Continue Reading
LexBlog