Description of Capital Stock

Contract Categories: Business Finance - Stock Agreements
EX-4.1 2 gern-ex41_123.htm DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK gern-ex41_123.htm




References herein to “Geron,” “our,” “we,” “us” and the “Company” refer only to Geron Corporation.


Our restated certificate of incorporation, as amended, or the Restated Certificate, authorizes us to issue 675,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, and 3,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $0.001 per share.

The following summary description of our capital stock is based on the provisions of our Restated Certificate, our amended and restated bylaws, as amended, or the Bylaws, and applicable provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law, or DGCL. This information may not be complete in all respects and is qualified entirely by reference to the applicable provisions of our Restated Certificate, our Bylaws and the DGCL. The Restated Certificate and the Bylaws are filed as exhibits to this Annual Report on Form 10-K to which this Description of Capital Stock is an exhibit.

Common Stock

Shares of our common stock are the only security of the Company registered pursuant to Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. The holders of common stock are entitled to one vote for each share held of record on all matters submitted to a vote of the stockholders. Subject to preferences that may be applicable to any outstanding shares of the preferred stock, the holders of common stock are entitled to receive ratably such dividends as may be declared by the board of directors out of legally available funds. Upon our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, holders of our common stock are entitled to share ratably in all assets remaining after payment of liabilities and the liquidation preferences of any outstanding shares of preferred stock legally available for distribution to stockholders. Holders of common stock have no preemptive rights and no right to convert their common stock into any other securities. There are no redemption or sinking fund provisions applicable to the common stock.

Preferred Stock

Pursuant to our Restated Certificate, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our stockholders, to issue up to 3,000,000 shares of preferred stock in one or more series and to fix the designations, powers, preferences, privileges and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions thereof, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights of the common stock. The board of directors, without stockholder approval, can issue preferred stock with voting, conversion or other rights that could adversely affect the voting power and other rights of the holders of common stock. Preferred stock could thus be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our Company or make removal of management more difficult. Additionally, the issuance of preferred stock may have the effect of decreasing the market price of the common stock and may adversely affect the voting power of holders of common stock and reduce the likelihood that common stockholders will receive dividend payments and payments upon liquidation.

Anti-takeover Effects of Provisions of Charter Documents and Delaware Law

Charter Documents. Our Restated Certificate and Bylaws contain provisions that could discourage potential takeover attempts and make it more difficult for stockholders to change management, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock. Our Restated Certificate limits the personal liability for monetary damages for breach of fiduciary duty of our directors to Geron and our stockholders to the fullest extent permitted by the DGCL. The inclusion of this provision in our Restated Certificate may reduce the likelihood of derivative litigation




against directors and may discourage or deter stockholders or management from bringing a lawsuit against directors for breach of their fiduciary duty. Our Restated Certificate provides that all stockholder action must be effected at a meeting of stockholders and not by a consent in writing.

In addition, our Bylaws provide that special meetings of stockholders may only be called by the board of directors pursuant to a resolution adopted by a majority of the total number of authorized directors, the chairman of the board of directors, the chief executive officer or president (in the absence of a chief executive officer), or at the request in writing of stockholders owning a majority of the amount of our entire capital stock issued and outstanding and entitled to vote. Further, our Bylaws establish procedures, including advance notice procedures, with regard to the nomination of candidates for election as directors and stockholder proposals. Finally, our Bylaws provide that our stockholders may alter, amend or repeal our Bylaws or adopt new bylaws only by the affirmative vote of 66⅔% of the outstanding voting stock, but our board of directors may also unilaterally alter, amend, repeal our Bylaws or adopt new bylaws.

Our Bylaws also provide for the board of directors to be divided into three classes of directors, with each class as nearly equal in number as possible, serving staggered three-year terms. As a result, approximately one-third of the board of directors will be elected each year. The classified board provision could have the effect of discouraging a third party from making a tender offer or attempting to obtain control of us. In addition, the classified board provision could delay stockholders who do not agree with the policies of the board of directors from removing a majority of the board of directors for two years.

These provisions may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control and may also delay or prevent changes in management of Geron, which could have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.

Delaware Law. We are subject to Section 203 of the DGCL. Section 203 generally prohibits a public Delaware corporation such as us from engaging in a "business combination" with an "interested stockholder" for a period of three years following the time that the stockholder became an interested stockholder, unless:

prior to the time the stockholder became an interested stockholder, the 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 our voting stock outstanding at the time the transaction commenced, excluding for purposes of determining the number of shares outstanding (but not the outstanding voting stock owned by the interested stockholder) (a) those shares owned by persons who are directors and also officers and (b) employee stock plans in which employee participants do not have the right to determine confidentially whether shares held subject to the plan will be tendered in a tender or exchange offer; or

at or subsequent to the time the stockholder became an interested stockholder, the business combination is approved by the board of directors and authorized at an annual or special meeting of stockholders, and not by written consent, by the affirmative vote of at least 66⅔% 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, lease, exchange, mortgage, pledge, transfer or other disposition (in one transaction or a series of transactions) involving the interested stockholder of 10% of the aggregate market value, determined on a consolidated basis, of either all of the assets of the corporation or its outstanding stock;




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, directly or indirectly, of increasing the proportionate share of the stock or any class or series of the corporation beneficially owned by the interested stockholder; and

the receipt by the interested stockholder of the benefit, directly or indirectly (except proportionately as a stockholder of such corporation), of any loans, advances, guarantees, pledges or other financial benefits, other than certain benefits set forth in Section 203, provided by or through the corporation.

In general, Section 203 defines an “interested stockholder” as an entity or person who, together with the person’s affiliates and associates, beneficially owns, or within three years prior to the time of determination of interested stockholder status did own, 15% or more of the outstanding voting stock of the corporation.

Although Section 203 permits us to elect not to be governed by its provisions, we have not made this election. As a result of the application of Section 203, potential acquirers of Geron may be discouraged from attempting to effect an acquisition transaction with us, thereby possibly depriving holders of our securities of certain opportunities to sell or otherwise dispose of such securities at above-market prices pursuant to such transactions.

Forum Selection Bylaw

Unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the sole and exclusive forum for (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of Geron, (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any current or former director, officer, other employee or stockholder of Geron to Geron or to our stockholders, (3) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL, the Restated Certificate or the Bylaws or (4) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine shall be a state or federal court located within the state of Delaware, in all cases subject to the court’s having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring or holding any interest in shares of capital stock of Geron is deemed to have notice of and consented to the forum selection provisions of the Bylaws. This provision does not apply to actions arising under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act, or any claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction.