Description of Registered Securities
DESCRIPTION OF THE REGISTRANT’S SECURITIES
REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
The following summary describes all material provisions of the common stock, par value $0.01 per share, of Beam Therapeutics Inc. The description of our common stock is qualified by reference to our certificate of incorporation, bylaws, and investor rights agreement, which are included as exhibits to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of which this Exhibit 4.3 is a part.
Our authorized capital stock consists of 275,000,000 shares, all with a par value of $0.01 per share, of which:
250,000,000 shares are designated as common stock; and
25,000,000 shares are designated as preferred stock.
Holders of our common stock are entitled to one vote for each share held on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders and do not have cumulative voting rights. An election of directors by our stockholders shall be determined by a plurality of the votes cast by the stockholders entitled to vote on the election. Holders of common stock are entitled to receive proportionately any dividends as may be declared by our board of directors, subject to any preferential dividend rights of any series of preferred stock that we may designate and issue in the future.
In the event of our liquidation or dissolution, the holders of common stock are entitled to receive proportionately our net assets available for distribution to stockholders after the payment of all debts and other liabilities and subject to the prior rights of any outstanding preferred stock. Holders of common stock have no preemptive, subscription, redemption or conversion rights. Our outstanding shares of common stock are validly issued, fully paid and nonassessable. The rights, preferences and privileges of holders of common stock are subject to and may be adversely affected by the rights of the holders of shares of any series of preferred stock that we may designate and issue in the future.
Under the terms of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, our board of directors is authorized to direct us to issue shares of preferred stock in one or more series without stockholder approval. Our board of directors has the discretion to 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 and determine its rights and preferences is to eliminate delays associated with a stockholder vote on specific issuances. The issuance of preferred stock, while providing flexibility in connection with possible acquisitions, future financings and other corporate purposes, could have the effect of making it more difficult for a third-party to acquire, or could discourage a third-party from seeking to acquire, a majority of our outstanding voting stock.
Anti-takeover effects of our certificate of incorporation and our by-laws
Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws contains certain provisions that are intended to enhance the likelihood of continuity and stability in the composition of our board of directors but which may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a future takeover or change in control of us 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 will 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 are elected each year. The classification of directors will have 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 will be 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 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 provides that, except as otherwise required by law, special meetings of the stockholders can only be called pursuant to a resolution adopted by a majority of our board of directors. Except as described above, stockholders are not permitted to call a special meeting or to require our board of directors to call a special meeting.
Removal of directors. Our certificate of incorporation provides that 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 a minority of our stockholders 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 are only able to consider proposals or nominations specified in the notice of meeting or brought before the meeting by or at the direction of our 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 our 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 acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect its own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.
Supermajority approval requirements. The DGCL 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 requires a greater percentage. Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws provide that the affirmative vote of holders of at least 75% of the total votes eligible to be cast in the election of directors is required to amend, alter, change or repeal specified provisions. This requirement of a supermajority vote to approve amendments to our certificate of incorporation and by-laws could enable a minority of our stockholders to exercise veto power over any such amendments.
Authorized but unissued shares. Our authorized but unissued shares of common stock and preferred stock are 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 requires, to the fullest extent permitted by law, that derivative actions brought in the name of the Company, actions against directors, officers and employees for breach of a fiduciary duty and other similar actions may be brought only in specified courts in the State of Delaware. Under our certificate of incorporation, this exclusive forum provision will not apply to claims that are vested in the exclusive jurisdiction of a court or forum other than the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, or for which the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware does not have subject matter jurisdiction and explicitly does not apply to actions arising under federal securities laws, including suits brought to enforce any liability or duty created by the Securities Act, Exchange Act, or the rules and regulations thereunder. Furthermore, our amended and restated by-laws also provide that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States shall be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any compliant asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. Although we believe these provisions benefit us by providing increased consistency in the
application of Delaware law in the types of lawsuits to which it applies, these provisions may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors and officers. See “Risk factors—Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated by-laws designates the state or federal courts within the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.”
Section 203 of the DGCL
We are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the DGCL. 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, our 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 our 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.
Transfer agent and registrar
The transfer agent and registrar for our common stock is Computershare Trust Company, N.A.
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol BEAM.