The Wilmington History Society Hosts “A Deep Dive into the TransPerfect Case” and Welcomes TransPerfect CEO as a Surprise Guest Speaker
On Wednesday, October 17th, The Wilmington History Society convened for an evening discussion with the purpose of taking “A Deep Dive into the TransPerfect Case.” The event would begin with Jacob Jeifa of the University of Delaware, giving society members an overview of the case. Following Mr. Jeifa’s presentation, the floor was open for questions, and an unlikely guest, Philip Shawe, CEO of TransPerfect Global, made an appearance to help aid the discussion.
At least one news outlet reported this was Mr. Shawe’s first foray south into Delaware since he wrested control of his successful company back from the Delaware Chancery Court. The court, in my view, has spent the last few years fleecing the pants off this successful company by forcing Shawe, with court orders, to pay $1,475 an hour for years to the Chancellor’s friend, Bob Pincus of Skadden Arps, not to mention an army of Pincus’ friends. From what I can see, given the amount of money Bouchard passed to engineer a $250 million wealth-transfer out of the company coffers (which ultimately came from the employees) and into the pockets of Bob Pincus, and other lawyers and Delaware elites, it is fair to say that Shawe could have been entering enemy territory going to this meeting in Wilmington. Many believe Shawe and TransPerfect to be the biggest victim of government corruption in modern history, courtesy of Chancellor Andre Bouchard.
I had the opportunity to interview Nathan Field, President of the Wilmington History Society, about how the evening’s events unfolded. While one might have expected a showdown at the OK Corral, I’m told it was a pleasant and informative evening with good questions and a lively debate.
“To hear so directly from a primary source, who was willing to answer any questions directly, was unusually informative,” Field said of Shawe being at the meeting. “It’s not often you get people like that in a bar, willing to answer any question you ask, so that part of the discussion was highly informative as well.”
I wish I could have been there — this man and his company are arguably the greatest victims of judicial corruption in our lifetime — and yet he’s willing to come down to help Delaware understand the case and it’s far reaching implications. I placed a call to Mr. Shawe’s New York offices, but did not hear back before press time.
Still, I commend both Shawe and the Wilmington History Society for their interest in fostering discussion aimed at educating the Delaware public on the case. In my view, the people of Delaware will be paying for the Bouchard-TransPerfect corruption in lost state income, lost jobs, and lower wages for long long time. Our incorporation rankings have definitely taken a beating like never before, and this is our state’s main source of income.
The study of history is largely premised in the notion that by society examining the mistakes of the past, it can avoid them for the future. I can only hope that history will not repeat itself. Shawe had to move his company out of Delaware to escape corruption– with Bouchard’s tentacles no longer siphoning TransPerfect’s bank accounts, it seems Shawe has little to gain by traveling to Delaware and sharing his view and his experiences, so I commend him for doing so.
I’m told a good deal of discussion centered around Justice Karin Valihura’s courageous Dissenting Opinion, in which at great personal peril, she took on Chief Justice Strine and Chancellor’s Bouchard’s ” Good Old Boy Network” — Declaring that Chancellor Bouchard as a neophyte judge had gone “Too far, too fast.” If anyone in Delaware would like to understand the Constitutional Issues at stake with Bouchard stealing Shawe’s stock and putting it up for auction, I encourage you to read Justice Valihura’s decision. It makes it fairly clear that Bouchard putting Shawe’s stock up for sale to benefit his former partner (and not-so-coincidentally, Bouchard’s bosom-buddy Kevin Shannon) was not only unconstitutional, but illegal under Delaware law.
What is the one huge mistake history will judge Delaware by? When faced with obvious abuse of power, abuse of process, and corruption, our legislature did very little. We can take solace in this from Election Day results: The righteous Senators Bonini and Richardson — who tried to stand up against the rich elites, the lawyers, and the “Judges Gone Wild” — got re-elected. Conversely, sell-outs like Greg Lavelle who ran Bouchard’s ZERO-QUESTION confirmation hearings, and stood by his side as if he was paid to do so — was handed walking papers in the form of an election defeat.
Please read the article below. While the title seems sensationalized based on the positive reports I’ve heard about the Wilmington History Society meeting, the article is solid. The establishment has some funny comments, basically: Yes, our Chancellors are unpredictable, but others are more unpredictable; and the Corporate Bar has lined up behind the Chancellor — shocker — given those folks have to go in front of him to argue for 9 more years (less, if there is any justice in this world!).
Finally, while the election didn’t go the way I’d envisioned for Republicans in Delaware, what’s most important is seeing Democracy thriving. No matter which party you side with, a sincere thank you to everyone who got out the vote on Tuesday!
Please click on the link below and read the article which is right on point.
Explaining his decision to reincorporate his business in Nevada, TransPerfect co-founder and CEO Philip R. Shawe returned to Delaware last week to deliver a parting shot to the state’s legal establishment, saying the Delaware Court of Chancery was too quick to order the profitable translation software company to the auction block.
Despite ultimately prevailing in what came to be known as one of the most vexing and contentious cases in the recent history of the Chancery Court, Shawe said last week that the 2015 decision to force the sale of the deadlocked, but profitable, translation software company could have wide-ranging ramifications for Delaware, which sells itself to the corporate and startup communities as a stable, predictable court system.
“If that’s the standard, you could dissolve any company in America,”
Shawe said at an Oct. 17 event hosted by the Wilmington History Society.
The critique has gained some traction, including with one state Supreme Court justice, who said Chancellor Andre Bouchard had gone “too far too fast” in appointing a custodian to oversee a public auction. However, the bulk of the state’s corporate bar has lined up behind the chancellor, arguing that he followed the proper blueprint for resolving corporate deadlock under Delaware law.
The dispute centers on a rarely used provision of Delaware law, which grants the Chancery Court authority to breakup firms when their directors have reached a point of permanent impasse. Under the statute, codified in Section 226 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, a custodian is required to continue the business of a corporation, “except when the court shall otherwise order.”
Shawe, who initially opposed TransPerfect co-founder Elizabeth Elting’s petition to dissolve the company, argued that Bouchard opted to impose an “unpredictable application of Delaware law,” when other, less-intrusive steps could have been taken to resolve TransPerfect’s corporate deadlock.
Earlier this year, Shawe won his bid to purchase Elting’s 50 percent stake for $385 million, finally putting to rest a four-year legal saga between the former business partners and one-time finances over control of the company that they had started together out of a college dorm room. An outspoken critic of the Delaware judiciary, Shawe in late summer changed TransPerfect’s state of incorporation to Nevada, in part so that he would never have to litigate its internal corporate disputes in Delaware again.
“I think there’s a lot Delaware can learn from this case, if it wants to be a hospitable home for entrepreneurs,” he said in an interview.
Shawe said in an interview that Bouchard’s sale order had stretched the company’s resources and shaken the confidence of his senior management team. Instead, Shawe argued, Bouchard should have allowed the custodian to expand the company’s board in order to reach an internal resolution.
Last February, Delaware Supreme Court Justice Karen L. Valihura had recommended the appointment of a custodian in her lone dissent to a 4-1 opinion of the high court upholding the sale. In her opinion, Valihura said that Section 226 had never before been used to sell stock over a shareholder’s objection.
“The absence of authority grounded in the statute, the conceded absence of any similar cases under Section 226, and our common law’s strong preference for the least intrusive remedies in cases involving court-appointed custodians suggest that the chancellor went too far too fast in ordering the modified auction,” she wrote.
Shawe has since seized on Valihura’s dissent to argue that Bouchard’s decision had upset the stability that Delaware corporate law is known for.
But Francis G.X. Pileggi, vice chair of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott’s commercial litigation practice, said Section 226 had functioned as it should in a case of corporate deadlock. Pileggi acknowledged that Valihura’s dissent had a “substantial amount of merit,” but he said that Section 226 cases are, by their nature, “almost inherently unpredictable.”
“Whenever there’s discretion involved, one vice chancellor may reach a different conclusion than another vice chancellor,” he said. “The predictability is that 226 is available to break the deadlock. The unpredictability is how the court decides to break the deadlock.”
Section 226, Pileggi said, only applies to a small group of tightly held companies that incorporate in Delaware, and its application in one case would not have much affect on the broader business community.
It is hard to predict the outcome of any lawsuit, he said, but Delaware has a history of applying the statute on a case-by-case basis and would be better equipped to handle the cases than its counterparts.
“If you don’t know how the Delaware court is going to rule,” he said, “it’s even more difficult to predict how another court is going to rule outside of Delaware.”