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Proskauer on Private Fund Litigation

Category Archives: Disputes

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New in the World of SPACs: Arks, Sharks and SPARCs

Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have been one of the success stories of recent years. They have attracted huge volumes of investment as professional and retail parties invest through an initial public offering (IPO) in a ‘cash shell’ company with a mandate to find a suitable unlisted acquisition target. The company then typically merges (often … Continue Reading

Looking Ahead: Top Litigation and Regulatory Risks for Fund Managers Right Now (Webinar)

The regulatory and litigation risks for private funds are greater than at any time since the financial crisis in 2008. From the continued proliferation of digital assets and cryptocurrencies, to the unprecedented activity in SPACs (many of which are merging with PE-backed portfolio companies), to the increased focus on ESG under the Biden Administration, new … Continue Reading

MNPI Update – SEC Pursues “Shadow Trading” Insider Trading Case

The SEC recently charged a former employee of a biopharmaceutical company with insider trading in advance of an acquisition but with a unique twist: Trading the securities of a company unrelated to the merger. The employee, Matthew Panuwat, did not trade his own company’s or the acquiring company’s securities, but instead purchased stock options for … Continue Reading

Bloomberg Law: White Collar Crime Investigation & the Biden Administration

As part of an ongoing series of articles that focus on the top regulatory and litigation risks for private funds in 2021, William C. Komaroff, Seetha Ramachandran and Joseph Hartunian write for Bloomberg Law on the return to civil and criminal collaboration in white collar investigations under the Biden Administration. Read the full article here.… Continue Reading

Space SPAC Draws SEC Enforcement Action for Allegedly Misleading Disclosures and Due Diligence Failures

As one of the first of an expected series of potential enforcement actions, the SEC has brought an enforcement action against a SPAC and its major participants, highlighting enhanced regulatory scrutiny of SPACs and underscoring the importance of following appropriate diligence and other practices in the de-SPAC process. Given the rapid growth in this sector … Continue Reading

The Portfolio Company Playbook: Chapter 4 – Navigating Direct Liability Risks to the Fund

As litigation claims against portfolio companies have increased, so have accompanying claims asserted directly against funds (and their sponsors). Plaintiffs’ reasoning for including funds as defendants is no mystery: funds often have greater financial resources than the defendant portfolio company, particularly where the portfolio company is in distress, and thus represent the proverbial “deep pockets.” … Continue Reading

Three Key Considerations for Fund Sponsors when Participating in Bankruptcy Proceedings

We anticipate a more assertive regulatory enforcement program under the Biden administration, particularly focused on fund managers’ conflicts of interest, advisers’ codes of ethics, and related policies and procedures relating to material nonpublic information.  These concerns may be heightened for fund managers participating in bankruptcy proceedings, where competing fiduciary obligations arise, particularly in the context … Continue Reading

SPACs: Sure, Proceedings Are Coming

Proskauer’s Asset Management Litigation partner Dorothy Murray recently authored an article on litigation risks of SPACs. Dorothy details why the recent popularity of this latest incarnation of so-called “blank cheque” companies will inevitably lead to disputes, and the reasons are all connected to the very features that make SPACs so attractive in the first place. … Continue Reading

The Portfolio Company Playbook – Chapter 3: Navigating Risk from Company Employee Claims

Another source of litigation risk for fund sponsors are claims brought by portfolio company employees.  Sponsors should be aware of these risks, particularly when the portfolio company is in distress or is considering a sale or other transaction affecting the disposition of shares in the company.  We have set forth below just a few examples … Continue Reading

Private Credit Lenders Should Remain Vigilant in 2021

Private credit lenders began 2020 facing the dual challenges of an increased risk of defaults and a lack of strong financial covenants, and the pandemic sparked a significant increase in defaults to 8.1% in Q2. However, borrower defaults in Q3 and Q4 were lower than anticipated following the COVID-fueled spike in Q2, due in part to … Continue Reading

Return to Civil and Criminal Collaboration in White Collar under Biden Administration

Under the Biden Administration, we expect the Department of Justice to reinvigorate the policies aimed at increasing coordination between the criminal and civil divisions.  In a 2015 Memorandum – the “Yates Memo” – former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates pushed for “early and regular communication” between civil and criminal division attorneys in their pursuit of … Continue Reading

Cryptocurrencies and Other Digital Assets: A New Regime

Cryptocurrencies and digital assets will continue to be an area of intense regulatory focus, but a new administration may bring new regulations. SEC Chairman Gensler has extensive experience with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, including a teaching stint at MIT. However, Gensler has alternated between censure and praise, referring to cryptocurrencies and blockchain both as an “innovative irritant” … Continue Reading

Portfolio Companies Continue to be a Source of Litigation Risk

A significant ownership stake in a portfolio company has always raised the specter of claims against funds, sponsors, and sponsor-appointed board designees, if for no other reason than they are perceived by the plaintiffs’ bar to be deep pockets.  This risk has only increased in recent years, as it has become less taboo – indeed, … Continue Reading

Valuation in Times of Market Disruption

Valuation practices will continue to be the subject of disputes. Particularly in times of economic disruption and market volatility, buyers and sellers are more likely to have substantial differences of opinions on valuation, which often lead to the use of earn-outs and resulting post-closing disputes. Use of a cost basis for recently acquired assets may … Continue Reading

FinCEN’s $390 Million case against Capital One – And What it Means for AML Enforcement

As the financial services industry prepares for expanded criminal and civil enforcement under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) with the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, FinCEN’s recent case against Capital One shows how FinCEN’s approach to AML enforcement is evolving.… Continue Reading

Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2021

The regulatory and litigation risks for private funds are greater than at any time since the financial crisis in 2008. Just a few examples prove the point: the pandemic (which caused extraordinary volatility in revenues and valuations for most asset categories); a new administration in Washington D.C. (with a more muscular regulatory agenda); continued proliferation … Continue Reading

The Portfolio Company Playbook – Chapter 2: Navigating Risk from Conflicts of Interest

Private funds frequently negotiate for special rights when making an investment in a portfolio company, such as the right to appoint one or more board directors, voting rights, and liquidation preferences. Fund sponsors often focus solely on the positive aspects of these special rights, such as increased control, without considering fully other implications. As the … Continue Reading

Three Critical Questions That Will (Hopefully) be Answered by the SEC’s Lawsuit against Ripple

Late last year, the SEC filed a litigated action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executive officers (collectively, “Ripple”), alleging that Ripple raised over $1.3 billion in unregistered offerings of the digital asset known as XRP. Ripple opted not to file … Continue Reading

2020 Proskauer Annual Review and Outlook for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds and Other Funds

Proskauer’s Private Investment Funds Group released its 2020 Annual Review. The yearly report provides a summary of some of the significant changes and developments that occurred in the past year in the private equity and hedge fund spaces, as well as certain recommended practices that investment advisers should consider when preparing for 2021. Read the … Continue Reading

Portfolio Company Insolvency: Risk Mitigation Strategies for Fund Sponsors and Board Designees

COVID-19 continues to disrupt normal business operations, creating liquidity problems and negative working capital for many companies.  As fund sponsors take actions to help their portfolio companies navigate through this time, they should also sensitize directors to insolvency issues and the associated litigation risks.  As we have previously highlighted, both funds and fund managers may … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Provides Further Guidance on Books and Records Requests in AmerisourceBergen

This past year, we highlighted a Delaware Chancery case adopting an expansive view in favor of parties seeking information from companies under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law.  The Delaware Supreme Court recently affirmed the Chancery Court’s ruling, providing additional appellate guidance on Section 220 and endorsing limits the Chancery Court set on … Continue Reading

The Portfolio Company Playbook – Chapter 1: A Fund Sponsor’s Guide to Navigating Risks, Conflicts, and Regulatory Concerns Arising from Portfolio Companies

Over the last few years, we have seen an uptick in litigation claims against sponsors and funds arising out of their interests in portfolio companies.  A fund sponsor’s participation on a portfolio company board, in particular, is a risk factor for the entire investment structure (the GP, the Management Company, individual members of the GP … Continue Reading

An Overview of OFAC’s Ongoing Guidance: Chinese Military Companies Trading Ban

Over the past few weeks, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued further guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and General Licenses that clarify the terms of the Order and its Chinese Military Sanctions Program. To a large degree, OFAC’s guidance confirms that the agency will interpret … Continue Reading

Asserting Reliance on Compliance Consultants as a Defense: Admissibility and Effectiveness

Asset managers commonly engage regulatory compliance consultants to aid them in addressing regulatory requirements and implementing compliance programs. The work of those compliance professionals can be drawn into SEC enforcement actions in various contexts.  See, e.g., ZPR Investment Mgmt. Inc. v. SEC (compliance consultant resigned when advice not followed and testified in proceeding). One such context … Continue Reading
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