Description of Securities Registered Under Section 12 of the Exchange Act
DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES REGISTERED UNDER SECTION 12 OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
The following description of the common stock, par value $0.001 per share, of Decibel Therapeutics, Inc. (“us,” “our,” “we” or the “Company”), which is the only security of the Company registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), summarizes certain information regarding our common stock in our restated certificate of incorporation, our amended and restated bylaws and applicable provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”), and is qualified by reference to our restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws, which are incorporated by reference as Exhibit 3.1 and Exhibit 3.2, respectively, to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of which this Exhibit 4.3 is a part.
Authorized Capital Stock
Our authorized capital stock consists of 200,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, and 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $0.001 per share. Our common stock is registered under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act.
Voting Rights. Holders of 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. Each election of directors by our stockholders will be determined by a plurality of the votes cast by the stockholders entitled to vote on the election, and all other questions will be decided by a majority of the votes cast by stockholders entitled to vote thereon.
Dividends. 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 outstanding preferred stock that we may designate and issue in the future.
Liquidation and Dissolution. In the event of our liquidation or dissolution, the holders of common stock are entitled to receive proportionately all assets available for distribution to stockholders after the payment of all debts and other liabilities and subject to the prior rights of any of our outstanding preferred stock.
Other Rights. Holders of common stock have no preemptive, subscription, redemption or conversion rights. 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 our preferred stock that we may designate and issue in the future.
Under the terms of our restated certificate of incorporation, our board of directors is authorized 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 Delaware Law and Our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws
Delaware Business Combination Statute. We are subject to Section 203 of the DGCL. Subject to certain exceptions, Section 203 prevents a publicly held Delaware corporation from engaging in a “business combination” with any “interested stockholder” for three years following the date that the person became an interested stockholder, unless either the interested stockholder attained such status with the approval of our board of directors, the business combination is approved by our board of directors and stockholders in a prescribed manner or the
interested stockholder acquired at least 85% of our outstanding voting stock in the transaction in which it became an interested stockholder. A “business combination” includes, among other things, a merger or consolidation involving us and the “interested stockholder” and the sale of more than 10% of our assets. In general, an “interested stockholder” is any entity or person beneficially owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock and any entity or person affiliated with or controlling or controlled by such entity or person.
Staggered Board; Removal of Directors. Our restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws divide our board of directors into three classes with staggered three-year terms. In addition, our restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws provide that directors may be removed only for cause and only by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 75% of our shares of capital stock present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote. Under our restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws, any vacancy on our board of directors, including a vacancy resulting from an enlargement of our board of directors, may be filled only by vote of a majority of our directors then in office. Furthermore, our restated certificate of incorporation provides that the authorized number of directors may be changed only by the resolution of our board of directors. The classification of our board of directors and the limitations on the ability of our stockholders to remove directors, change the authorized number of directors and fill vacancies could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire, or discourage a third party from seeking to acquire, control of our company.
Stockholder Action; Special Meeting of Stockholders; Advance Notice Requirements for Stockholder Proposals and Director Nominations. Our restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws provide that any action required or permitted to be taken by our stockholders at an annual meeting or special meeting of stockholders may only be taken if it is properly brought before such meeting and may not be taken by written action in lieu of a meeting. Our restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws also provide that, except as otherwise required by law, special meetings of the stockholders can only be called by our board of directors. In addition, our amended and restated bylaws establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder proposals to be brought before an annual meeting of stockholders, including proposed nominations of candidates for election to our board of directors. Stockholders at an annual meeting may only 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 of record on the record date for the meeting who is entitled to vote at the meeting and who has delivered timely written notice in proper form to our secretary of the stockholder’s intention to bring such business before the meeting. These provisions could have the effect of delaying until the next stockholder meeting stockholder actions that are favored by the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities. These provisions also could discourage a third party from making a tender offer for our common stock because even if the third party acquired a majority of our outstanding voting stock, it would be able to take action as a stockholder, such as electing new directors or approving a merger, only at a duly called stockholders meeting and not by written consent.
Super-majority Voting. The DGCL provides generally 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 bylaws unless a corporation’s certificate of incorporation or bylaws, as the case may be, requires a greater percentage. Our amended and restated bylaws may be amended or repealed by a majority vote of our board of directors or the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 75% of the votes that all our stockholders would be entitled to cast in any annual election of directors. In addition, the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 75% of the votes that all our stockholders would be entitled to cast in any election of directors is required to amend or repeal or to adopt any provisions inconsistent with any of the provisions of our restated certificate of incorporation described above.
Exclusive Forum Selection. Our restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) shall be the sole and exclusive forum for the following types of proceedings: (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of our company, (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, employees or stockholders to our company or our stockholders, (3) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL or as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, or (4) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of our restated certificate of incorporation or amended and restated bylaws (in each case, as they may be amended from
time to time) or governed by the internal affairs doctrine. These choice of forum provisions will not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act. Furthermore, Section 22 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all such Securities Act actions. Accordingly, both state and federal courts have jurisdiction to entertain such claims. To prevent having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions and the threat of inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations, our restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, be the sole and exclusive forum for the resolution of any claims arising under the Securities Act. While the Delaware courts have determined that such choice of forum provisions are facially valid, a stockholder may nevertheless seek to bring a claim in a venue other than those designated in the exclusive forum provisions. In such instance, we would expect to vigorously assert the validity and enforceability of the exclusive forum provisions of our restated certificate of incorporation. This may require significant additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions and there can be no assurance that the provisions will be enforced by a court in those other jurisdictions.