Description of Registrants Securities
DESCRIPTION OF THE REGISTRANT’S SECURITIES
REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
The following description of our common stock and preferred stock summarizes the material terms and provisions of our common stock and preferred stock. The following description of our capital stock does not purport to be complete and is subject to, and qualified in its entirety by, our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, which are filed as exhibits to the Annual Report on Form 10-K, and by applicable law. The terms of our common stock and preferred stock may also be affected by Delaware law.
Authorized Capital Stock
Our authorized capital stock consists of 150,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.01 per share, and 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $0.01 per share, all of which shares of preferred stock are undesignated.
The holders of our common stock are entitled to one vote for each share held on all matters submitted to a vote of the stockholders. The holders of our common stock do not have any cumulative voting rights. Holders of our common stock are entitled to receive ratably any dividends declared by our board of directors out of funds legally available for that purpose, subject to any preferential dividend rights of any outstanding preferred stock. Our common stock has no preemptive rights, conversion rights, or other subscription rights or redemption or sinking fund provisions.
In the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, holders of our common stock will be entitled to share ratably in all assets remaining after payment of all debts and other liabilities and any liquidation preference of any outstanding preferred stock. All outstanding shares are fully paid and non-assessable.
The shares of common stock that we have issued are fully paid and non-assessable and will not have, or be subject to, any preemptive or similar rights.
Undesignated Preferred Stock
Our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our stockholders, to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock in one or more series and to fix the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions thereof. These rights, preferences and privileges could include dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption, liquidation preferences, sinking fund terms and the number of shares constituting, or the designation of, such series, any or all of which may be greater than the rights of common stock. The issuance of our preferred stock could adversely affect the voting power of holders of common stock and the likelihood that such holders will receive dividend payments and payments upon our liquidation. In addition, the issuance of preferred stock could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control of our company or other corporate action. The purpose of authorizing our board of directors to issue preferred stock in one or more series and determine the number of shares in the series and its rights and preferences is to eliminate delays associated with a stockholder vote on specific issuances. When we issue shares of preferred stock, the shares will fully be paid and non-assessable and will not be subject to any preemptive or similar rights.
Anti-Takeover Effects of our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws and Delaware Law
Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws include a number of provisions that may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing another party from acquiring control of us and encouraging persons considering unsolicited
tender offers or other unilateral takeover proposals to negotiate with our board of directors rather than pursue non-negotiated takeover attempts. These provisions include the items described below.
Board Composition and Filling Vacancies
Our certificate of incorporation provides for the division of our board of directors into three classes serving staggered three-year terms, with one class being elected each year. Our certificate of incorporation also provides that directors may be removed only for cause and then only by the affirmative vote of the holders of two-thirds or more of the shares then entitled to vote at an election of directors. Furthermore, any vacancy on our board of directors, however occurring, including a vacancy resulting from an increase in the size of our board, may only be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of our directors then in office, even if less than a quorum. The classification of directors, together with the limitations on removal of directors and treatment of vacancies, has the effect of making it more difficult for stockholders to change the composition of our board of directors.
No Written Consent of Stockholders
Our certificate of incorporation provides that all stockholder actions are required to be taken by a vote of the stockholders at an annual or special meeting, and that stockholders may not take any action by written consent in lieu of a meeting. This limit may lengthen the amount of time required to take stockholder actions and would prevent the amendment of our bylaws or removal of directors by our stockholders without holding a meeting of stockholders.
Meetings of Stockholders
Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws provide that only a majority of the members of our board of directors then in office may call special meetings of stockholders and only those matters set forth in the notice of the special meeting may be considered or acted upon at a special meeting of stockholders. Our bylaws limit the business that may be conducted at an annual meeting of stockholders to those matters properly brought before the meeting.
Advance Notice Requirements
Our bylaws establish advance notice procedures with regard to stockholder proposals relating to the nomination of candidates for election as directors or new business to be brought before meetings of our stockholders. These procedures provide that notice of stockholder proposals must be timely given in writing to our corporate secretary prior to the meeting at which the action is to be taken. Generally, to be timely, notice must be received at our principal executive offices not less than 90 days nor more than 120 days prior to the first anniversary date of the annual meeting for the preceding year. Our bylaws specify the requirements as to form and content of all stockholders' notices. These requirements may preclude stockholders from bringing matters before the stockholders at an annual or special meeting.
Amendment to Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws
Any amendment of our certificate of incorporation must first be approved by a majority of our board of directors, and if required by law or our certificate of incorporation, must thereafter be approved by a majority of the outstanding shares entitled to vote on the amendment and a majority of the outstanding shares of each class entitled to vote thereon as a class, except that the amendment of the provisions relating to stockholder action, board composition, limitation of liability and the amendment of our bylaws and certificate of incorporation must be approved by not less than two-thirds of the outstanding shares entitled to vote on the amendment, and not less than two-thirds of the outstanding shares of each class entitled to vote thereon as a class. Our bylaws may be amended by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors then in office, subject to any limitations set forth in the bylaws; and may also be amended by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the outstanding shares entitled to vote on the amendment, or, if our board of directors recommends that the stockholders approve the amendment, by the affirmative vote of the majority of the outstanding shares entitled to vote on the amendment, in each case voting together as a single class.
Undesignated Preferred Stock
Our certificate of incorporation provides for 10,000,000 authorized shares of preferred stock. The existence of authorized but unissued shares of preferred stock may enable our board of directors to discourage an attempt to obtain control of us by means of a merger, tender offer, proxy contest or otherwise. For example, if in the due exercise of its fiduciary obligations, our board of directors were to determine that a takeover proposal is not in the best interests of our stockholders, our board of directors could cause shares of preferred stock to be issued without stockholder approval in one or more private offerings or other transactions that might dilute the voting or other rights of the proposed acquirer or insurgent stockholder or stockholder group. In this regard, our certificate of incorporation grants our board of directors broad power to establish the rights and preferences of authorized and unissued shares of preferred stock. The issuance of shares of preferred stock could decrease the amount of earnings and assets available for distribution to holders of shares of common stock. The issuance may also adversely affect the rights and powers, including voting rights, of these holders and may have the effect of delaying, deterring or preventing a change in control of us.
Choice of Forum
Our amended and restated bylaws provides that, unless we consent in writing to an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of or based on a breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our current or former directors, officers and employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our current or former directors, officers, employees or stockholders arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws, or (iv) any action asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each case subject to the Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. Our amended and restated bylaws further provide that, unless we consent in writing to an alternative forum, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. In addition, our amended and restated bylaws provide that any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our common stock is deemed to have notice of and consented to the foregoing provisions. We have chosen the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois as the exclusive forum for such causes of action because our principal executive offices are located in Evanston, Illinois.
The forum selection clauses in our amended and restated bylaws may limit our stockholders' ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois may also reach different judgments or results than would other courts, including courts where a stockholder considering an action may be located or would otherwise choose to bring the action, and such judgments may be more or less favorable to us than our stockholders. Although we believe this provision benefits us by providing increased consistency in the application of Delaware law in the types of lawsuits to which it applies, the provision may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors and officers.
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. Under Section 203, a business combination between a corporation and an interested stockholder is prohibited unless it satisfies one of the following conditions:
at or after the time the stockholder became interested, the business combination was approved by our board of directors 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.
Section 203 defines a business combination to include:
In general, Section 203 defines an interested stockholder as any entity or person beneficially owning 15% or more of the outstanding voting stock of the corporation and any entity or person affiliated with or controlling or controlled by the entity or person.