DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK
The following description of the capital stock of Acceleron Pharma Inc. (“us,” “our,” “we” or the “Company”) is intended as a summary only. This summary is qualified in its entirety by reference to our restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated by-laws, both of which have been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and are incorporated by reference to this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, and to the applicable provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law. We refer in this section to our restated certificate of incorporation as our certificate of incorporation, and we refer to our amended and restated by-laws as our by-laws.
Our authorized capital stock consists of 175,000,000 shares of our common stock, par value $0.001 per share, and 25,000,000 shares of our preferred stock, par value $0.001 per share, all of which preferred stock is undesignated. The common stock is registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.
Dividend Rights. Subject to preferences that may apply to shares of preferred stock outstanding at the time, holders of outstanding shares of common stock will be entitled to receive dividends out of assets legally available at the times and in the amounts as the board of directors may from time to time determine.
Voting Rights. Each outstanding share of common stock will be entitled to one vote on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders. Holders of shares of our common stock shall have no cumulative voting rights.
Preemptive Rights. Our common stock will not be entitled to preemptive or other similar subscription rights to purchase any of our securities.
Conversion or Redemption Rights. Our common stock will be neither convertible nor redeemable.
Liquidation Rights. Upon our liquidation, the holders of our common stock will be entitled to receive pro rata our assets which are legally available for distribution, after payment of all debts and other liabilities and subject to the prior rights of any holders of preferred stock then outstanding.
Listing. Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol "XLRN".
Transfer Agent and Registrar. The transfer agent and registrar for our common stock is Computershare Trust Company, N.A.
Our board of directors may, without further action by our stockholders, from time to time, direct the issuance of shares of preferred stock in series and may, at the time of issuance, determine the designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights as well as the qualifications, limitations or restrictions thereof, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights of the common stock. Satisfaction of any dividend preferences of outstanding shares of preferred stock would reduce the amount of funds available for the payment of dividends on shares of our common stock. Holders of shares of preferred stock may be entitled to receive a preference payment in the event of our liquidation before any payment is made to the holders of shares of our common stock. Under certain circumstances, the issuance of shares of preferred stock may render more difficult or tend to discourage a merger, tender offer or proxy contest, the assumption of control by a holder of a large block of our securities or the removal of incumbent management. Upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the total number of directors then in office, our board of directors, without stockholder approval, may issue shares of preferred stock with voting and conversion rights which could adversely affect the holders of shares of our common stock and the market value of our common stock. There are no shares of preferred stock outstanding, and we have no present intention to issue any shares of preferred stock.
We are party to an amended and restated registration rights agreement with certain holders of our common stock.
Under the amended and restated registration rights agreement, holders of registrable shares can demand that we file a registration statement or request that their shares be included on a registration statement that we are otherwise filing, in either case, registering the resale of their shares of common stock. These registration rights are subject to conditions and limitations, including the right, in certain circumstances, of the underwriters of an offering to limit the number of shares included in such registration and our right, in certain circumstances, not to effect a requested S-1 or S-3 registration within 60 days before the Company's estimated date of filing a registration statement or six months following the effective date of a registration statement pertaining to an underwritten public offering of securities for the account of the Company.
Demand Registration Rights. The holders of at least a majority of the registrable shares may require us to file a registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act") at our expense with respect to the resale of their registrable shares, and we are required to use our best efforts to effect the registration.
Piggyback Registration Rights. If we propose to register any of our securities under the Securities Act for our own account or the account of any other holder, the holders of registrable shares are entitled to notice of such registration and to request that we include registrable shares for resale on such registration statement, subject to the right of any underwriter to limit the number of shares included in such registration.
We will pay all registration expenses, other than underwriting discounts and commissions, related to any demand or piggyback registration. The amended and restated registration rights agreement contains customary cross-indemnification provisions, pursuant to which we are obligated to indemnify the selling stockholders, in the event of misstatements or omissions in the registration statement attributable to us and they are obligated to indemnify us for misstatements or omissions attributable to them, in each case, except in the event of fraud. The registration rights will not terminate until all registrable shares have been sold or no longer qualify as registrable shares.
Anti-Takeover Effects of Our Certificate of Incorporation and Our By-Laws
Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws contain certain provisions that are intended to enhance the likelihood of continuity and stability in the composition of our board of directors and which may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a future takeover or change in control of the company unless such takeover or change in control is approved by our board of directors.
These provisions include:
Classified Board. Our certificate of incorporation provides that our board of directors be divided into three classes of directors, with the classes as nearly equal in number as possible. As a result, approximately one-third of our board of directors will be elected each year. The classification of directors has the effect of making it more difficult for stockholders to change the composition of our board. Our certificate of incorporation also provides that, subject to any rights of holders of preferred stock to elect additional directors under specified circumstances, the number of directors is fixed exclusively pursuant to a resolution adopted by our board of directors.
Action by Written Consent; Special Meetings of Stockholders. Our certificate of incorporation provides that, except as otherwise provided for by a resolution of the board of directors providing for the issuance of a series of preferred stock, stockholder action can be taken only at an annual or special meeting of stockholders and cannot be taken by written consent in lieu of a meeting. Our certificate of incorporation and the by-laws also provide that, except as otherwise required by law, and subject to any special rights of the holders of preferred stock, special meetings of the stockholders can only be called pursuant to a resolution adopted by a majority of the board of directors. Except as described above, stockholders are not permitted to call a special meeting or to require the board of directors to call a special meeting.
Removal of Directors. Our certificate of incorporation provides that, subject to any special rights of holders of preferred stock, our directors may be removed only for cause by the affirmative vote of at least 75% of the voting power of our outstanding shares of capital stock, voting together as a single class. This requirement of a supermajority vote to remove directors could enable holders of a minority of our capital stock to prevent a change in the composition of our board.
Advance Notice Procedures. Our by-laws establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder proposals to be brought before an annual meeting of our stockholders, including proposed nominations of persons for election to the board of directors. Stockholders at an annual meeting will only be able to consider proposals or nominations specified in the notice of meeting or brought before the meeting by or at the direction of the board of directors or by
a stockholder who was a stockholder of record on the record date for the meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting and who has given our Secretary timely written notice, in proper form, of the stockholder's intention to bring that business before the meeting. Although the by-laws do not give the board of directors the power to approve or disapprove stockholder nominations of candidates or proposals regarding other business to be conducted at a special or annual meeting, the by-laws may have the effect of precluding the conduct of certain business at a meeting if the proper procedures are not followed or may discourage or deter a potential acquiror from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect its own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of the company.
Supermajority Approval Requirements. The Delaware General Corporation Law generally provides that the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares entitled to vote on any matter is required to amend a corporation's certificate of incorporation or by-laws, unless either a corporation's certificate of incorporation or by-laws require a greater percentage. Our certificate of incorporation provides that the affirmative vote of holders of at least 75% of the voting power of the outstanding shares of our capital stock is required to amend, alter, change or repeal our by-laws. This requirement of a supermajority vote to approve amendments to our by-laws could enable holders of a minority of our capital stock to exercise veto power over any such amendments.
Authorized but Unissued Shares. Our authorized but unissued shares of common stock and preferred stock will be available for future issuance without stockholder approval. These additional shares may be utilized for a variety of corporate purposes, including future public offerings to raise additional capital, corporate acquisitions and employee benefit plans. The existence of authorized but unissued shares of common stock and preferred stock could render more difficult or discourage an attempt to obtain control of a majority of our common stock by means of a proxy contest, tender offer, merger or otherwise.
Exclusive Forum. Our certificate of incorporation provides that, subject to limited exceptions, the state or federal court located within the State of Delaware is the sole and exclusive forum for (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders, (3) any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation or our by-laws, or (4) any other action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the provisions of our certificate of incorporation described above. Although we believe these provisions benefit us by providing increased consistency in the application of Delaware law for the specified types of actions and proceedings, the provisions may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors and officers. The enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies' certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that, in connection with one or more actions or proceedings described above, a court could find the choice of forum provisions contained in our certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable.
Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. We are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. In general, Section 203 prohibits a publicly held Delaware corporation from engaging in a "business combination" with an "interested stockholder" for a three-year period following the time that this stockholder becomes an interested stockholder, unless the business combination is approved in a prescribed manner. A "business combination" includes, among other things, a merger, asset or stock sale or other transaction resulting in a financial benefit to the interested stockholder. An "interested stockholder" is a person who, together with affiliates and associates, owns, or did own within three years prior to the determination of interested stockholder status, 15% or more of the corporation's voting stock.
Under Section 203, a business combination between a corporation and an interested stockholder is prohibited unless it satisfies one of the following conditions: before the stockholder became interested, the board of directors approved either the business combination or the transaction which resulted in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder; upon consummation of the transaction which resulted in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder, the interested stockholder owned at least 85% of the voting stock of the corporation outstanding at the time the transaction commenced, excluding for purposes of determining the voting stock outstanding, shares owned by persons who are directors and also officers, and employee stock plans, in some instances; or at or after the time the stockholder became interested, the business combination was approved by the board of directors of the corporation and authorized at an annual or special meeting of the stockholders by the
affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the outstanding voting stock which is not owned by the interested stockholder.
A Delaware corporation may "opt out" of these provisions with an express provision in its original certificate of incorporation or an express provision in its certificate of incorporation or by-laws resulting from a stockholders' amendment approved by at least a majority of the outstanding voting shares. We have not opted out of these provisions. As a result, mergers or other takeover or change in control attempts of us may be discouraged or prevented.