Description of Common Stock
DESCRIPTION OF THE REGISTRANT’S SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
As of March 11, 2020, Gritstone had one class of common stock registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”).
The following summary describes our common stock and the material provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation (the “certificate of incorporation”), our amended and restated bylaws (the “bylaws”), the amended and restated investors’ rights agreement (the “investors’ rights agreement”) to which we and certain of our stockholders are parties and of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”). Because the following is only a summary, it does not contain all of the information that may be important to you. For a complete description, you should refer to our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and investors’ rights agreement, filed as Exhibits 3.1, 3.2 and 10., respectively, to our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities Exchange Commission, of which this Exhibit 4.3 is a part. We encourage you to read those documents and the DGCL carefully.
The certificate of incorporation authorizes 300,000,000 shares of common stock, $0.0001 par value per share.
Each holder of our common stock is entitled to one vote for each share on all matters submitted to a vote of the stockholders, including the election of directors. Our stockholders do not have cumulative voting rights in the election of directors. Accordingly, holders of a majority of the voting shares are able to elect all of the directors. In addition, the affirmative vote of holders of 66-2/3% of the voting power of all of the then outstanding voting stock is required to take certain actions, including amending certain provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, such as the provisions relating to amending our amended and restated bylaws, the classified board and director liability.
Subject to preferences that may be applicable to any then outstanding convertible preferred stock, holders of our common stock are entitled to receive dividends, if any, as may be declared from time to time by our board of directors out of legally available funds.
In the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, holders of our common stock are entitled to share ratably in the net assets legally available for distribution to stockholders after the payment of all of our debts and other liabilities and the satisfaction of any liquidation preference granted to the holders of any then outstanding shares of convertible preferred stock.
Rights and Preferences
Holders of our common stock have no preemptive, conversion, subscription or other rights, and there are no redemption or sinking fund provisions applicable to our common stock. The rights, preferences and privileges of the holders of our common stock are subject to and may be adversely affected by the rights of the holders of shares of any series of our convertible preferred stock that we may designate in the future.
Fully Paid and Nonassessable
Undesignated Preferred Stock
Under our certificate of incorporation, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our stockholders, to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock, $0.0001 par value per share, in one or more series and to fix the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions thereof. These rights, preferences and privileges could include dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption, liquidation preferences, sinking fund terms and the number of shares constituting, or the designation of, such series, any or all of which may be greater than the rights of common stock. The issuance of our preferred stock could adversely affect the voting power of holders of common stock and the likelihood that such holders will receive dividend payments and payments upon our liquidation. In addition, the issuance of preferred stock could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control of our company or other corporate action. As of March 11, 2020, no shares of convertible preferred stock were outstanding.
Certain holders of unregistered common stock purchased in private placements, or their permitted transferees, are entitled to rights with respect to the registration of such shares under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). These rights are provided under the terms of an investors’ rights agreement between us and the holders of these shares, or the investors’ rights agreement, and include demand registration rights and piggyback registration rights. All fees, costs and expenses of underwritten registrations will be borne by us and all selling expenses, including underwriting discounts and selling commissions, will be borne by the holders of the shares being registered.
The demand, piggyback and Form S-3 registration rights will expire, with respect to any particular stockholder, upon the earlier of three years after the consummation of our initial public offering or when that stockholder can sell all of its shares under Rule 144 of the Securities Act during any three-month period.
Anti-Takeover Effects of Provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, our Amended and Restated Bylaws and Delaware Law
Some provisions of Delaware law and our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could make the following transactions more difficult: acquisition of us by means of a tender offer; acquisition of us by means of a proxy contest or otherwise; or removal of our incumbent officers and directors. It is possible that these provisions could make it more difficult to accomplish or could deter transactions that stockholders may otherwise consider to be in their best interest or in our best interests, including transactions that might result in a premium over the market price for our shares.
These provisions, summarized below, are expected to discourage coercive takeover practices and inadequate takeover bids. These provisions are also designed to encourage persons seeking to acquire control of us to first negotiate with our board of directors. We believe that the benefits of increased protection of our potential ability to negotiate with the proponent of an unfriendly or unsolicited proposal to acquire or restructure us outweigh the disadvantages of discouraging these proposals because negotiation of these proposals could result in an improvement of their terms.
Delaware Anti-Takeover Statute
We are subject to Section 203 of the DGCL, which prohibits persons deemed “interested stockholders” from engaging in a “business combination” with a publicly-held Delaware corporation for three years following the date these persons become interested stockholders unless the business combination is, or the transaction in which the person became an interested stockholder was, approved in a prescribed manner or another prescribed exception applies. Generally, an “interested stockholder” is a person who, together with affiliates and associates, owns, or within three years prior to the determination of interested stockholder status did own, 15% or more of a corporation’s voting stock. Generally, a “business combination” includes a merger, asset or stock sale, or other
transaction resulting in a financial benefit to the interested stockholder. The existence of this provision may have an anti-takeover effect with respect to transactions not approved in advance by the board of directors, such as discouraging takeover attempts that might result in a premium over the market price of our common stock.
Undesignated Preferred Stock
The ability to authorize undesignated preferred stock makes it possible for our board of directors to issue preferred stock with voting or other rights or preferences that could impede the success of any attempt to change control of us. These and other provisions may have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers or delaying changes in control or management of our company.
Special Stockholder Meetings
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that a special meeting of stockholders may be called by our board of directors, or by our President or Chief Executive Officer.
Requirements for Advance Notification of Stockholder Nominations and Proposals
Our amended and restated bylaws establish advance notice procedures with respect to stockholder proposals and the nomination of candidates for election as directors, other than nominations made by or at the direction of the board of directors or a committee of the board of directors.
Elimination of Stockholder Action by Written Consent
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws eliminate the right of stockholders to act by written consent without a meeting.
Classified Board; Election and Removal of Directors; Filling Vacancies
Our board of directors is divided into three classes. The directors in each class will serve for a three-year term, one class being elected each year by our stockholders, with staggered three-year terms. Only one class of directors will be elected at each annual meeting of our stockholders, with the other classes continuing for the remainder of their respective three-year terms. Because our stockholders do not have cumulative voting rights, our stockholders holding a majority of the shares of common stock outstanding will be able to elect all of our directors. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides for the removal of any of our directors only for cause and requires a stockholder vote by the holders of at least a 66-2/3% of the voting power of the then outstanding voting stock. Furthermore, any vacancy on our board of directors, however occurring, including a vacancy resulting from an increase in the size of the board, may only be filled by a resolution of the board of directors unless the board of directors determines that such vacancies shall be filled by the stockholders. This system of electing and removing directors and filling vacancies may tend to discourage a third party from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us, because it generally makes it more difficult for stockholders to replace a majority of the directors.
Choice of Forum
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is 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 amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws; or any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. The exclusive forum provision will not apply to suits brought to enforce any liability or duty created by the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. In addition, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the U.S. federal district courts are the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. Our exclusive forum provision will not relieve us of our duties to comply with the federal securities
laws and the rules and regulations thereunder, and our stockholders will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with these laws, rules and regulations.
The enforceability of similar federal court choice of forum provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that a court could find this type of provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable. If a court were to find either of the choice of forum provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or amended and restated bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions.
The choice of forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with the company or its directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against the company and its directors, officers and other employees and result in increased costs for investors to bring a claim.
Amendment of the Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws
The amendment of any of the above provisions, except for the provision making it possible for our board of directors to issue undesignated preferred stock, would require approval by a stockholder vote by the holders of at least a 66-2/3% of the voting power of the then outstanding voting stock. The provisions of the DGCL, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws could have the effect of discouraging others from attempting hostile takeovers and, as a consequence, they may also inhibit temporary fluctuations in the market price of our common stock that often result from actual or rumored hostile takeover attempts. These provisions may 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 may otherwise deem to be in their best interests.
Limitations of Liability and Indemnification Matters
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation contains provisions that limit the liability of our directors for monetary damages to the fullest extent permitted by Delaware law. Consequently, our directors will not be personally liable to us or our stockholders for monetary damages for any breach of fiduciary duties as directors, except liability for:
any breach of the director’s duty of loyalty to us or our stockholders;
any act or omission not in good faith or that involves intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of law;
unlawful payments of dividends or unlawful stock repurchases or redemptions as provided in Section 174 of the DGCL; or
any transaction from which the director derived an improper personal benefit.
Each of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws provide that we are required to indemnify our directors and officers, in each case to the fullest extent permitted by Delaware law. Our amended and restated bylaws also obligate us to advance expenses incurred by a director or officer in advance of the final disposition of any action or proceeding, and permit us to secure insurance on behalf of any officer, director, employee or other agent for any liability arising out of his or her actions in that capacity regardless of whether we would otherwise be permitted to indemnify him or her under Delaware law. We have entered and expect to continue to enter into agreements to indemnify our directors, executive officers and other employees as determined by our board of directors. With specified exceptions, these agreements provide for indemnification for related expenses including, among other things, attorneys’ fees, judgments, fines and settlement amounts incurred by any of these individuals in any action or proceeding. We believe that these bylaw provisions and indemnification agreements are necessary to attract and retain qualified persons as directors and officers. We also maintain directors’ and officers’ liability insurance.
The limitation of liability and indemnification provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may discourage stockholders from bringing a lawsuit against our directors and officers for breach of their fiduciary duty. They may also reduce the likelihood of derivative litigation against our directors and officers, even though an action, if successful, might benefit us and our stockholders. Further, a stockholder’s investment may be adversely affected to the extent that we pay the costs of settlement and damages.
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “GRTS.”
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.