Description of Securities
DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPANY’S SECURITIES
REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934, AS AMENDED
As of December 31, 2020, Assembly Biosciences, Inc. (Assembly, the Company, we, us and our) had one class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended: our common stock.
DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL 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 Fifth Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation (our Certificate of Incorporation) and our amended and restated bylaws (our Bylaws), each of which is incorporated by reference as an exhibit to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Authorized Capital Stock
Our authorized capital stock consists of 100,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, and 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $0.001 per share.
The holders of our common stock are entitled to one vote per share on all matters to be voted on by the stockholders, and there are no cumulative voting rights.
The holders of common stock are entitled to receive ratable dividends, if any, payable when and as declared by our board of directors or any authorized committee thereof out of assets or funds legally available therefor, subject to any preferential rights that may be applicable to any outstanding preferred stock. In the event of a liquidation, dissolution or winding up of our company, after payment in full of all outstanding debts and other liabilities, the holders of common stock are entitled to share ratably in all remaining assets, subject to prior distribution rights of preferred stock, if any, then outstanding. No shares of common stock have preemptive rights or other subscription rights to purchase additional shares of common stock. There are no redemption or sinking fund provisions applicable to the common stock.
Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “ASMB.”
Transfer Agent and Registrar
The transfer agent and registrar for our common stock is American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, LLC. The transfer agent and registrar’s address is 6201 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11219.
Our board of directors is authorized to issue up to 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock in one or more series without stockholder approval. Our board of directors may determine the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions, including voting rights, dividend rights, conversion rights, redemption privileges and liquidation preferences, of each series of preferred stock. 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. The existence of authorized but unissued shares of preferred stock may enable our board of directors to render more difficult or to discourage an attempt to obtain control of us by means of a merger, tender offer, proxy contest or otherwise. The rights of holders of our common stock described above will be subject to, and may be adversely affected by, the rights of any preferred stock that we may designate and issue in the future. 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.
Provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws and Delaware Anti-Takeover Law
Certain provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the DGCL), our Certificate of Incorporation and our Bylaws could have the effect of delaying, deferring or discouraging another party from acquiring control of us. These provisions, which are summarized below, are expected to discourage certain types of coercive takeover practices and inadequate takeover bids and, as a consequence, they might also inhibit temporary fluctuations in the market price of our common stock that often result from actual or rumored hostile takeover attempts. These provisions are also designed in part to encourage anyone seeking to acquire control of us or considering unsolicited tender offers or other unilateral takeover proposals to first negotiate with our board of directors rather than pursue non-negotiated takeover attempts. These provisions might also have the effect of preventing changes in our management. It is possible that these provisions could make it more difficult to accomplish transactions that stockholders might otherwise deem to be in their best interests. However, we believe that the advantages gained by protecting our ability to negotiate with any unsolicited and potentially unfriendly acquirer outweigh the disadvantages of discouraging such proposals, including those priced above the then-current market value of our common stock, because, among other reasons, the negotiation of such proposals could improve their terms.
Delaware Anti-Takeover Law
We are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the DGCL (Section 203). 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 such person’s affiliates and associates, owns, or did own within three years prior to such determination, 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 of the corporation approved either the business combination or the transaction that resulted in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder;
upon consummation of the transaction that 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 that is not owned by the interested stockholder.
Our Certificate of Incorporation and our Bylaws include a number of provisions that may have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers or delaying or preventing changes in control or management of our company. First, our Certificate of Incorporation and our Bylaws provide that all stockholder action must be effected at a duly called meeting of stockholders and not by a consent in writing. Further, our Bylaws limit who may call special meetings of the stockholders. Our Certificate of Incorporation does not include a provision for cumulative voting for directors. Under cumulative voting, a minority stockholder holding a sufficient percentage of a class of shares may be able to ensure the election of one or more directors. Our Bylaws provide that the number of directors on our board, which may range from three to ten directors, shall be exclusively fixed by our board, which has set the number of directors at seven. Newly created directorships resulting from any increase in our authorized number of directors and any vacancies in our board resulting from death, resignation, retirement, disqualification or other cause (including removal from office by a vote of the stockholders) will be filled by a majority of our board then in office. Finally, our Bylaws establish procedures and other terms and conditions, including advance notice procedures, regarding special meeting requests by stockholders holding in the aggregate at least 25% of our outstanding common stock, nomination of candidates for election as directors and stockholder proposals. These and other provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation, our Bylaws and Delaware law could discourage potential acquisition proposals and could delay or prevent a change in control or management of our company.
Our Bylaws also provide that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or if such court does not have jurisdiction, the Superior Court of Delaware, or if such other court does not have jurisdiction, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware) will be the exclusive forum for: any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; any action asserting a breach of fiduciary duty; any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to the DGCL, our Certificate of Incorporation or our Bylaws; or any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This provision will not apply to litigation brought to enforce any liability or duty created by: the Securities Act of 1933, as amended; the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended; or the rules and regulations thereunder. The enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies’ organizational documents has been challenged in legal proceedings and, while the Delaware Supreme Court recently upheld the validity of certain choice of forum provisions, 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 Bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable.