DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK
The following description of the capital stock of Exicure, Inc. (“us,” “our,” “we” or the “Company”) is a summary of the rights of our common stock and certain provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws currently in effect. This summary does not purport to be complete and is qualified in its entirety by the provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, as amended, and amended and restated bylaws, each previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and incorporated by reference as an exhibit to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of which this Exhibit 4.4 is a part, as well as to the applicable provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”). We encourage you to read our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and the applicable portions of the DGCL carefully.
Authorized Capital Stock
Our authorized capital stock consists of 200,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, and 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $0.0001 per share, all of which shares of preferred stock are undesignated.
The holders of our common stock are entitled to one vote per share on all matters to be voted upon by our stockholders. The holders of our common stock do not have any cumulative voting rights. Subject to preferences that may be applicable to any outstanding preferred stock, the holders of shares of our common stock are entitled to receive ratably any dividends that may be declared from time to time by our board of directors out of funds legally available for that purpose. We have never paid cash dividends on our common stock. Moreover, we do not anticipate paying periodic cash dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future. Any future determination about the payment of dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon our earnings, if any, capital requirements, operating and financial conditions and on such other factors as our board of directors deems relevant. Our common stock has no preemptive or conversion rights or other subscription rights. There are no redemption or sinking fund provisions applicable to our common stock.
In the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, the holders of shares of our common stock are entitled to share ratably in all assets remaining after payment of liabilities, subject to prior distribution rights of preferred stock then outstanding.
Our board of directors has the authority, without further action by the 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 granted to or imposed upon the preferred stock. Any or all of these rights may be greater than the rights of our common stock. Our board of directors may specify the following characteristics of any preferred stock:
the maximum number of shares;
the designation of the shares;
the annual dividend rate, if any, whether the dividend rate is fixed or variable, the date or dates on which dividends will accrue, the dividend payment dates, and whether dividends will be cumulative;
the price and the terms and conditions for redemption, if any, including redemption at our option or at the option of the holders, including the time period for redemption, and any accumulated dividends or premiums;
the liquidation preference, if any, and any accumulated dividends upon the liquidation, dissolution or winding up of our affairs;
any sinking fund or similar provision, and, if so, the terms and provisions relating to the purpose and operation of the fund;
the terms and conditions, if any, for conversion or exchange of shares of any other class or classes of our capital stock or any series of any other class or classes, or of any other series of the same class, or any other securities or assets, including the price or the rate of conversion or exchange and the method, if any, of adjustment;
any or all other preferences and relative, participating, optional or other special rights, privileges or qualifications, limitations or restrictions.
Our board of directors, without stockholder approval, can issue preferred stock with voting, conversion or other rights that could negatively affect the voting power and other rights of the holders of our common stock. Preferred stock could thus be
issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of us or make it more difficult to remove our management.
We currently have no shares of preferred stock outstanding.
Anti-Takeover Effects of Our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws and Delaware Law
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated 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 amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides for our board of directors to be divided into three classes serving staggered terms. Approximately one-third of the board of directors will be elected each year. The provision for a classified board could prevent a party who acquires control of a majority of our outstanding voting stock from obtaining control of our board of directors until the second annual stockholders meeting following the date the acquirer obtains the controlling stock interest. The classified board provision could discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us and could increase the likelihood that incumbent directors will retain their positions. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that directors may be removed only for cause by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least two-thirds of the voting power of all of our outstanding stock. The classification of directors, together with the limitations on removal of directors, 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 amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws do not allow our stockholders to act by written consent without a meeting. Without the availability of stockholder action by written consent, a holder controlling a majority of our capital stock would not be able to amend our amended and restated bylaws or remove directors without holding a stockholders’ 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.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation also 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 any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, employees or agents to us or our stockholders, any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or 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 and the claim not being one which is vested in the exclusive jurisdiction of a court or forum other than the Court of Chancery or for which the Court of Chancery does not have subject matter jurisdiction. However, this exclusive forum provision would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Furthermore, this provision applies to Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) claims and Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act or the rules and regulations thereunder. Accordingly, there is uncertainty as to whether a court would enforce such provision, and our stockholders will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. This exclusive-forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees.
Meetings of stockholders
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that a special meeting of our stockholders may be called only by our corporate secretary and at the direction of our board of directors by resolution adopted by a majority of our board of directors. Because our stockholders do not have the right to call a special meeting, a stockholder could not force stockholder consideration of a proposal over the opposition of our board of directors by calling a special meeting of stockholders prior to such time as a majority of our board of directors, the chairperson of our board of directors, the president or the chief executive officer believed
the matter should be considered or until the next annual meeting provided that the requestor met the notice requirements. The restriction on the ability of stockholders to call a special meeting means that a proposal to replace our board of directors also could be delayed until the next annual meeting.
Our amended and restated bylaws 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 our board of directors. At an annual meeting, stockholders may only consider proposals specified in the notice of meeting or brought before the meeting by or at the direction of our board of directors. Additionally, at an annual meeting, stockholders may only consider nominations brought before the meeting by or at the direction of our board of directors. Stockholders may also consider a proposal or nomination by a person who was a stockholder at the time of giving notice and at the time of the meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting and who has complied with the notice requirements of our amended and restated bylaws in all respects. The amended and restated bylaws 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 of our stockholders. However, our amended and restated bylaws may have the effect of precluding the conduct of certain business at a meeting if the proper procedures are not followed. These provisions may also discourage or deter a potential acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquirer’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of our company.
Advance notice requirements
Our amended and restated 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 our charter documents
Any amendment of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation must first be approved by a majority of our board of directors, and if required by law or our amended and restated 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, exclusive-forum and requirements for amendment of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation must be approved by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least two-thirds of the voting power of all of the then-outstanding shares of our capital stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class. Our amended and restated bylaws may be amended by the affirmative vote of a majority of the authorized directors, subject to any limitations set forth in our amended and restated bylaws; and may also be amended by the affirmative vote of a majority of the outstanding shares entitled to vote on the amendment, voting together as a single class; provided that, in addition to any vote of the holders of any class or series of our stock required by law or by our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, such action by stockholders shall require the affirmative vote of the holders of at least two-thirds of the voting power of all of the then-outstanding shares of our capital stock entitled to vote at an election of directors. These provisions could discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of our company and could delay changes in management.
Undesignated preferred stock
Our amended and restated 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 amended and restated 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.
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:
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, but not the outstanding voting stock owned by the interested stockholder; or
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:
any merger or consolidation involving the corporation and the interested stockholder;
any sale, transfer, lease, pledge or other disposition involving the interested stockholder of 10% or more of the assets of the corporation;
subject to exceptions, any transaction that results in the issuance or transfer by the corporation of any stock of the corporation to the interested stockholder;
subject to exceptions, any transaction involving the corporation that has the effect of increasing the proportionate share of the stock of any class or series of the corporation beneficially owned by the interested stockholder; and
the receipt by the interested stockholder of the benefit of any loans, advances, guarantees, pledges, or other financial benefits provided by or through the corporation.
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.
Nasdaq Global Select Market Listing
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the trading symbol “XCUR.”
Transfer Agent and Registrar
The transfer agent and registrar for our common stock is American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, LLC.