DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK OF HEALTHPEAK PROPERTIES, INC.
References to “we,” “us” and “our” in this section refer to Healthpeak Properties, Inc.
The following description summarizes the material provisions of the common stock and preferred stock we may offer, as well as certain provisions of Maryland law and of our charter, as amended, which we refer to as our charter, and our amended and restated bylaws, which we refer to as our bylaws. These descriptions are not complete and are subject to, and qualified in their entirety by reference to, our charter and our bylaws and applicable provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law. For a complete description, we refer you to the Maryland General Corporation Law, our charter and our bylaws. Copies of our charter and bylaws are included as exhibits to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019.
Our authorized capital stock consists of 750,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $1.00 per share, and 50,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $1.00 per share.
As of December 31, 2019, there were 505,221,643 shares of common stock outstanding. All shares of common stock participate equally in dividends payable to holders of common stock, when, as and if authorized by our board and declared by us, and in net assets available for distribution to holders of common stock on liquidation, dissolution, or winding up. Each outstanding share of common stock entitles the holder to one vote on all matters submitted to a vote of our stockholders. Holders of common stock do not have cumulative voting rights in the election of directors.
All issued and outstanding shares of common stock are validly issued, fully paid and nonassessable. Holders of common stock do not have preference, conversion, exchange or preemptive rights. The common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE Symbol: PEAK).
As of December 31, 2019, we had no shares of preferred stock outstanding. Under our charter, our board is authorized without further stockholder action to establish and issue, from time to time, up to 50,000,000 shares of our preferred stock, in one or more series. Our board may grant the holders of preferred stock of any series preferences, powers and rights-voting or otherwise-senior to those of holders of shares of our common stock. Our board can authorize the issuance of shares of preferred stock with terms and conditions that could have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control transaction that might involve a premium price for holders of shares of our common stock or otherwise be in their best interest. All shares of preferred stock will, when issued in exchange for the consideration therefor, be fully paid and nonassessable and will have no preemptive rights. The Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter require our board to determine the terms and conditions of any series of preferred stock, including:
the number of shares constituting such series and the distinctive designation thereof;
the voting rights, if any, of such series;
the rate of dividends payable on such series, the time or times when dividends will be payable, the preference to, or any relation to, the payment of dividends to any other class or series of stock and whether the dividends will be cumulative or noncumulative;
whether there shall be a sinking or similar fund for the purchase of shares of such series and, if so, the terms and provisions that shall govern such fund;
the rights of the holders of shares of such series upon our liquidation, dissolution or winding up;
the rights, if any, of holders of shares of such series to convert such shares into, or to exchange such shares for, shares of any other class or classes or any other series of the same or of any other class or classes of our stock or any other securities, the price or prices or rate or rates of exchange, with such adjustments as shall be provided, at which such shares shall be convertible or exchangeable, whether such rights of conversion or exchange shall be exercisable at the option of the holder of the shares or upon the happening of a specified event and any other terms or conditions of such conversion or exchange;
if the shares are redeemable, the prices at which, and the terms and conditions on which, the shares of such series may be redeemed; and
any other preferences, powers and relative participating, optional or other special rights and qualifications, limitations or restrictions of shares of such series.
Transfer and Ownership Restrictions Relating to Our Common Stock
Our charter contains restrictions on the ownership and transfer of our common stock that are intended to assist us in complying with the requirements to continue to qualify as a real estate investment trust, or REIT.
Subject to limited exceptions, no person or entity may own, or be deemed to own by virtue of the applicable constructive ownership provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Internal Revenue Code, more than 9.8% (by number or value of shares, whichever is more restrictive) of the outstanding shares of our common stock. Our board may, but is in no event required to, waive the applicable ownership limit with respect to a particular stockholder if it determines that such ownership will not jeopardize our status as a REIT and our board otherwise decides such action would be in our best interests.
These charter provisions further prohibit:
any person from actually or constructively owning shares of our stock that would result in our being “closely held” under Section 856(h) of the Internal Revenue Code or otherwise cause us to fail to qualify as a real estate investment trust (including but not limited to ownership that would result in us owning, actually or constructively, an interest in a tenant as described in Section 856(d)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code if the income derived by us, either directly or indirectly, from such tenant would cause us to fail to satisfy any of the gross income requirements of Section 856(c) of the Internal Revenue Code); and
any person from transferring shares of our capital stock if such transfer would result in shares of our stock being beneficially owned by fewer than 100 persons (determined without reference to any rules of attribution).
Any person who acquires or attempts or intends to acquire actual or constructive ownership of shares of our stock that will or may violate any of these restrictions on ownership and transfer is required to give notice immediately to us and provide us with such other information as we may request in order to determine the effect of the transfer on our qualification as a REIT. Under our charter, if any purported transfer of our stock or any other event would otherwise result in any person violating the applicable ownership limit or such other limit as permitted by our board, then any such purported transfer is void and of no force or effect with respect to the purported transferee as to that number of shares of our stock in excess of the ownership limit or such other limit, and the transferee will acquire no right or interest in such excess shares. Any excess shares described above are transferred automatically, by operation of law, to a trust, the beneficiary of which is a qualified charitable organization selected by us. Such automatic transfer will be deemed to be effective as of the close of business on the business day prior to the date of such violative transfer. Within 20 days of receiving notice from us of the transfer of shares to the trust, the trustee of the trust is required to sell the excess shares to a person or entity who could own the shares without violating the applicable ownership limit, or such other limit as permitted by our board, and distribute to the prohibited transferee an amount equal to the lesser of the price paid by the prohibited transferee for the excess shares or the sales proceeds received by the trust for the excess shares. Any proceeds in excess of the amount distributable to the prohibited transferee are distributed to the beneficiary of the trust. Prior to a sale of any such excess shares by the trust, the trustee is entitled to receive, in trust for the beneficiary, all dividends and other distributions paid by us with respect to such excess shares, and also is entitled to exercise all voting rights with respect to such excess shares.
Subject to Maryland law, effective as of the date that such shares have been transferred to the trust, the trustee will have the authority, at the trustee's sole discretion:
to rescind as void any vote cast by a prohibited transferee prior to the discovery by us that the shares have been transferred to the trust; or
to recast such vote in accordance with the desires of the trustee acting for the benefit of the beneficiary of the trust.
However, if we have already taken irreversible corporate action, then the trustee will not have the authority to rescind and recast such vote. Any dividend or other distribution paid to the prohibited transferee, prior to the discovery by us that such shares had been automatically transferred to a trust as described above, are required to be repaid to the trustee upon demand for distribution to the beneficiary of the trust. In the event that the transfer to the trust as described above is not automatically effective, for any reason, to prevent violation of the ownership limit or such other limit as permitted by our board, then our charter provides that the transfer of the excess shares is void ab initio.
In addition, shares of common stock held in the trust shall be deemed to have been offered for sale to us, or our designee, at a price per share equal to the lesser of:
the price per share in the transaction that resulted in such transfer to the trust or, in the case of a devise or gift, the market price at the time of such devise or gift; and
the market price on the date we, or our designee, accepted the offer.
We will have the right to accept the offer until the trustee has sold the shares of stock held in the trust. Upon a sale to us, the interest of the beneficiary in the shares sold will terminate and the trustee will distribute the net proceeds of the sale to the prohibited transferee.
If any purported transfer of shares of common stock would cause us to be beneficially owned by fewer than 100 persons, such transfer will be null and void ab initio in its entirety and the intended transferee will acquire no rights to the stock.
All certificates representing shares of common stock bear a legend referring to the restrictions described above. The foregoing ownership limitations could delay, defer or prevent a transaction or a change in control of us that might involve a premium price for the common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.
In addition, if our board shall, at any time and in good faith, be of the opinion that direct or indirect ownership of at least 9.9% of the voting shares of capital stock has or may become concentrated in the hands of one beneficial owner, it shall have the power:
by lot or other means deemed equitable by it to call for the purchase from any stockholder of a number of voting shares sufficient, in the opinion of our board, to maintain or bring the direct or indirect ownership of voting shares of capital stock of the beneficial owner to a level of no more than 9.9% of our outstanding voting shares; and
to refuse to transfer or issue voting shares of capital stock to any person whose acquisition of such voting shares would, in the opinion of the board, result in the direct or indirect ownership by that person of more than 9.9% of the outstanding voting shares of our capital stock.
If our board fails to grant an exemption from this 9.9% ownership limitation, then the transfer of shares, options, warrants, or other securities convertible into voting shares that would create a beneficial owner of more than 9.9% of the outstanding voting shares shall be deemed void ab initio, and the intended transferee shall be deemed never to have had an interest in the transferred securities. The purchase price for any voting shares of capital stock so redeemed shall be equal to the fair market value of the shares reflected in the closing sales price for the shares, if then listed on a national securities exchange, or the average of the closing sales prices for the shares if then listed on more than one national securities exchange, or if the shares are not then listed on a national securities exchange, the latest bid quotation for the shares if then traded over-the-counter, on the last business day immediately preceding the day on which we send notices of such acquisitions, or, if no such closing sales prices or quotations are available, then the purchase price shall be equal to the net asset value of such stock as determined by the board in accordance with the provisions of applicable law. From and after the date fixed for purchase by the board, the holder of any shares so called for purchase shall cease to be entitled to distributions, voting rights and other benefits with respect to such shares, except the right to payment of the purchase price for the shares.
Business Combination Provisions
Our charter requires that, except in some circumstances, “business combinations” between us and a beneficial holder of 10% or more of our outstanding voting stock, which we refer to as a Related Person, be approved by the affirmative vote of at least 90% of our outstanding voting shares. A “business combination” is defined in our charter as:
any merger or consolidation with or into a Related Person;
any sale, lease, exchange, transfer or other disposition, including without limitation a mortgage or any other security device, of all or any “Substantial Part” (as defined below) of our assets, including any voting securities of a subsidiary, to a Related Person;
any merger or consolidation of a Related Person with or into us;
any sale, lease, exchange, transfer or other disposition of all or any Substantial Part of the assets of a Related Person to us;
the issuance of any of our securities, other than by way of pro rata distribution to all stockholders, to a Related Person; and
any agreement, contract or other arrangement providing for any of the transactions described above.
The term “Substantial Part” means more than 10% of the book value of our total assets as of the end of our most recent fiscal year ending prior to the time the determination is being made.
In addition to the restrictions on business combinations contained in our charter, Maryland law also contains restrictions on business combinations. See “Certain Provisions of Maryland Law and Healthpeak Properties, Inc.’s Charter and Bylaws-Business Combinations” below.
The foregoing provisions may have the effect of discouraging unilateral tender offers or other takeover proposals which stockholders might deem to be in their interests or in which they might receive a substantial premium. Our board's authority to issue and establish the terms of currently authorized preferred stock, without stockholder approval, may also have the effect of discouraging takeover attempts. See “-Preferred Stock” above.
The foregoing provisions could also have the effect of insulating current management against the possibility of removal and could, by possibly reducing temporary fluctuations in market price caused by accumulations of shares of our common stock, deprive stockholders of opportunities to sell at a temporarily higher market price. Our board believes, however, that inclusion of the business combination provisions in our charter may help assure fair treatment of our stockholders and preserve our assets.
Transfer and Ownership Restrictions Relating to Our Preferred Stock
Our charter may contain restrictions on the ownership and transfer of preferred stock that are intended to assist us in complying with the requirements to maintain our qualification as a REIT. Subject to limited exceptions, unless otherwise provided for in the terms of a particular series of preferred stock, no person or entity may own, or be deemed to own by virtue of the applicable constructive ownership provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, more than 9.8% (by number or value of shares, whichever is more restrictive) of the outstanding shares of such series of preferred stock. Our board may, but in no event will be required to, waive the applicable ownership limit with respect to a particular stockholder if it determines that such ownership will not jeopardize our qualification as a REIT and our board otherwise decides such action would be in our best interests. The mechanics for the ownership limits on our preferred stock will be similar to the mechanics related to our common stock, as described in “Transfer and Ownership Restrictions Relating to Our Common Stock” above, unless otherwise provided in the terms of a particular series of preferred stock.
Certain Provisions of Maryland Law and of Healthpeak Properties, Inc.’s Charter and Bylaws
Election of Directors
Our bylaws provide that our board may establish, increase or decrease the number of directors, provided that the number thereof shall never be less than three nor more than eleven. Our bylaws also provide for the election of directors, in uncontested elections, by a majority of the votes cast. In contested elections, the election of directors shall be by a plurality of the votes cast. Holders of common stock have no right to cumulative voting for the election of directors. Consequently, at each annual meeting of stockholders, the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of our common stock can elect all of our directors. A vacancy resulting from an increase in the number of directors may be filled by a majority vote of the entire board or by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our shares then entitled to vote at an election of directors. Other vacancies may be filled by the vote of a majority of the remaining directors.
Removal of Directors
Our charter provides that a director of ours may be removed by the affirmative vote of the holders of two-thirds of the outstanding shares of our voting stock or by a unanimous vote of all other directors. Our stockholders may elect a successor to fill any vacancy which results from the removal of a director.
Under Maryland law, “business combinations” between a Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder or an affiliate of an interested stockholder are prohibited for five years after the most recent date on which the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. These business combinations include a merger, consolidation, share exchange, or, in circumstances specified in the statute, an asset transfer or issuance or reclassification of equity securities. An interested stockholder is defined as:
any person who beneficially owns ten percent or more of the voting power of the corporation's shares; or
an affiliate of the corporation who, at any time within the two-year period prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner of ten percent or more of the voting power of the then outstanding voting stock of the corporation.
After the five-year prohibition, any business combination between the Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder generally must be recommended by the board of the corporation and approved by the affirmative vote of at least:
80% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of outstanding shares of voting stock of the corporation; and
two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of voting stock of the corporation other than shares held by the interested stockholder with whom or with whose affiliate the business combination is to be effected or which are held by an affiliate or associate of the interested stockholder.
These super-majority vote requirements do not apply if the corporation's common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined under Maryland law, for their shares in the form of cash or other consideration in the same form as previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares. None of these provisions of Maryland law will apply, however, to business combinations that are approved or exempted by the board of the corporation prior to the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder.
In addition to the restrictions on business combinations provided under Maryland law, our charter also contains restrictions on business combinations. See “Business Combination Provisions” above.
Control Share Acquisitions
Maryland law provides that holders of “control shares” of a Maryland corporation acquired in a “control share acquisition” have no voting rights with respect to the control shares except to the extent approved by a vote of two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Shares of stock owned by the acquiror, by officers or by directors who are employees of the corporation are excluded from shares entitled to vote on the matter. “Control shares” are voting shares of stock which, if aggregated with all other shares of stock owned by the acquiror or shares of stock for which the acquiror is able to exercise or direct the exercise of voting power except solely by virtue of a revocable proxy, would entitle the acquiror to exercise voting power in electing directors within one of the following ranges of voting power:
one-tenth or more but less than one-third;
one-third or more but less than a majority; or
a majority or more of all voting power.
Control shares do not include shares the acquiring person is then entitled to vote as a result of having previously obtained stockholder approval. Except as otherwise specified in the statute, a “control share acquisition” means the acquisition of control shares.
Once a person who has made or proposes to make a control share acquisition has undertaken to pay expenses and satisfied other conditions, the person may compel the board to call a special meeting of stockholders to be held within 50 days of demand to consider the voting rights of the shares. If no request for a meeting is made, the corporation may itself present the question at any stockholders meeting.
If voting rights are not approved at the meeting or if the acquiring person does not deliver an acquiring person statement as required by the statute, then the corporation may be able to redeem any or all of the control shares for fair value, except for control shares for which voting rights previously have been approved. The right of the corporation to redeem control shares is subject to certain conditions and limitations. Fair value is determined without regard to the absence of voting rights for control shares, as of the date of the last control share acquisition by the acquiror or of any meeting of stockholders at which the voting rights of control shares are considered and not approved. If voting rights for control shares are approved at a stockholders meeting and the acquiror becomes entitled to vote a majority of the shares entitled to vote, all other stockholders may exercise appraisal rights. The fair value of the shares as determined for purposes of these appraisal rights may not be less than the highest price per share paid by the acquiror in the control share acquisition. Some of the limitations and restrictions otherwise applicable to the exercise of dissenters' rights do not apply in the context of a control share acquisition.
The control share acquisition statute does not apply to shares acquired in a merger, consolidation or share exchange if the corporation is a party to the transaction or to acquisitions approved or exempted by the charter or bylaws of the corporation. Our bylaws contain a provision exempting acquisitions of shares of our stock from the control share acquisition statute. However, our board may amend our bylaws in the future to repeal or modify this exemption, in which case any control shares of our company acquired in a control share acquisition will be subject to the control share acquisition statute.
Under Maryland law, a Maryland corporation with a class of equity securities registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or the Exchange Act, and at least three independent directors may elect to be subject to certain statutory provisions relating to unsolicited takeovers which, among other things, would automatically classify the board into three classes with staggered terms of three years each and vest in the board the exclusive right to determine the number of directors and the exclusive right, by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors, to fill vacancies on the board, even if the remaining directors do not constitute a quorum. These statutory provisions relating to unsolicited takeovers also provide that any director elected to fill a vacancy shall hold office for the remainder of the full term of the class of directors in which the vacancy occurred, rather than the next annual meeting of directors as would otherwise be the case, and until his successor is elected and qualified.
Our board of directors has adopted a resolution prohibiting us from electing to be subject to the provisions of the unsolicited takeover statute relating to the classification of the board unless such election is first approved by our stockholders
by the affirmative vote of a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. An election to be subject to any or all of the other foregoing statutory provisions may be made in our charter or bylaws, or by resolution of our board without stockholder approval. Any such statutory provision to which we elect to be subject will apply even if other provisions of Maryland law or our charter or bylaws provide to the contrary. Neither our charter nor our bylaws provides that we are subject to any of the foregoing statutory provisions relating to unsolicited takeovers. However, our board could adopt a resolution, without stockholder approval, to elect to become subject to some or all of these statutory provisions except the statutory provisions relating to the classification of the board.
If we made an election, upon stockholder approval of such election, to be subject to the statutory provisions relating to the classification of the board and our board were divided into three classes with staggered terms of office of three years each, the classification and staggered terms of office of our directors would make it more difficult for a third party to gain control of our board since at least two annual meetings of stockholders, instead of one, generally would be required to effect a change in the majority of our board.
Amendments to the Charter
Provisions of our charter on business combinations, the number of directors and certain ownership restrictions may be amended only if approved by our board and by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all of the votes entitled to be cast by our stockholders on the matter. Other amendments to our charter require approval by our board and approval by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast by our stockholders on the matter.
Amendment to the Bylaws
Provisions of our bylaws on the number of directors, in certain circumstances, and the vote required to amend the bylaws may be amended only by unanimous vote of the board or by the affirmative vote of not less than 90% of all of the votes entitled to be cast by our stockholders on the matter. Other amendments to our bylaws require the affirmative vote of a majority of the entire board or the affirmative vote of a majority of all of the votes entitled to be cast by our stockholders on the matter.
Dissolution of Healthpeak Properties, Inc.
Our dissolution must be approved by our board by a majority vote of the entire board and by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast by our stockholders on the matter.
Advance Notice of Director Nominations and New Business; Procedures of Special Meetings Requested by Stockholders
Our bylaws provide that nominations of persons for election to the board and the proposal of business to be considered by stockholders at the annual or special meeting of stockholders may be made only:
pursuant to our notice of the meeting;
by or at the direction of the board; or
by a stockholder who was a stockholder at the time the notice of meeting was given and is entitled to vote at the meeting and who has complied with the advance notice procedures, including the minimum time period, described in the bylaws.
Our bylaws also provide that only the business specified in our notice of meeting may be brought before a special meeting of stockholders. Our bylaws provide that our stockholders have the right to call a special meeting only upon the written request of the stockholders holding in the aggregate not less than 50% of the outstanding shares entitled to vote on the business proposed to be transacted at such meeting.
Our bylaws permit any stockholder or group of up to 25 stockholders (counting as one stockholder, for purposes of the aggregation limit, any two or more funds that are part of the same qualifying fund group, as such term is defined in our bylaws) who have maintained continuous qualifying ownership of 3% or more of our outstanding common stock for at least the previous three years to include up to a specified number of director nominees in our proxy materials for an annual meeting of stockholders. A nominating stockholder is considered to own only the shares for which the stockholder possesses the full voting and investment rights and the full economic interest (including the opportunity for profit and risk of loss). Under this provision, borrowed or hedged shares do not count as “owned” shares. Furthermore, to the extent not otherwise excluded pursuant to this definition of ownership, a nominating stockholder's “short position” as defined in Rule 14e-4 under the Exchange Act is deducted from the shares otherwise “owned.” Loaned shares are counted toward the ownership requirement, provided that certain recall requirements described in our bylaws are met. If a group of stockholders is aggregating its shareholdings in order to meet the 3% ownership requirement, the ownership of the group will be determined by aggregating the lowest number of shares continuously owned by each member during the three-year holding period.
The maximum number of stockholder nominees permitted under the proxy access provisions of our bylaws shall not exceed the greater of (i) two or (ii) 20% of the directors in office as of the last day a notice of nomination may be timely received. If the 20% calculation does not result in a whole number, the maximum number of stockholder nominees is the closest whole number below 20%. If one or more vacancies occurs for any reason after the nomination deadline and our board decides to reduce the size of our board in connection therewith, the 20% calculation will be applied to the reduced size of the board, with the potential result that a stockholder nominee may be disqualified. Stockholder-nominated candidates whose nomination is withdrawn or whom the board determines to include in our proxy materials as board-nominated candidates will be counted against the 20% maximum. In addition, any director in office as of the nomination deadline who was included in our proxy materials as a stockholder nominee for either of the two preceding annual meetings and whom our board decides to renominate for election to the board also will be counted against the 20% maximum.
Notice of a nomination pursuant to the proxy access provisions of our bylaws must be received no earlier than 150 days and no later than 120 days before the anniversary of the date that we distributed our proxy statement for the previous year's annual meeting of stockholders. The proxy access provisions of our bylaws require certain disclosure, representations and agreements to be provided or made by nominating stockholders and contain certain other procedural provisions.
A stockholder nominee will not be eligible for inclusion in our proxy materials if any stockholder has nominated a person pursuant to the advance notice provision of our bylaws, if the nominee would not be independent, if the nominee's election would cause us to violate our bylaws, our charter or any applicable listing standards, laws, rules or regulations, if the nominee is or has been an officer or director of a competitor, as defined in Section 8 of the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, within the past three years, or if the nominee or the stockholder who nominated him or her has provided false and misleading information to us or otherwise breached any of its or their obligations, representations or agreements under the proxy access provisions of our bylaws. Stockholder nominees who are included in our proxy materials but subsequently withdraw from or become ineligible or unavailable for election at the meeting or do not receive at least 10% of the votes cast in the election will be ineligible for nomination under the proxy access provisions of our bylaws for the next two annual meetings. A nomination made under the proxy access provisions of our bylaws will be disregarded at the annual meeting under certain circumstances described in our bylaws.
Anti-Takeover Effect of Provisions of Maryland Law and of Our Charter and Bylaws
The provisions in our charter on removal of directors and business combinations, the business combinations and control share acquisition provisions of Maryland law, the unsolicited takeover provisions of Maryland law (if we elect to become subject to such provisions) and the provisions of our bylaws relating to advance notice, proxy access and stockholder-requested special meetings may delay, deter or prevent a change of control or other transaction in which holders of some, or a majority, of the common stock might receive a premium for their common stock over the then prevailing market price or which such holders might believe to be otherwise in their best interests.
Limitation of Liability and Indemnification
Maryland law permits a Maryland corporation to include in its charter a provision limiting the liability of its directors and officers to the corporation and its stockholders for money damages. However, a Maryland corporation may not limit liability resulting from actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services. Also, liability resulting from active and deliberate dishonesty may not be eliminated if a final judgment establishes that the dishonesty is material to the cause of action. Our charter contains a provision which limits the liability of directors and officers for money damages to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law. This provision does not limit our right or that of our stockholders to obtain equitable relief, such as an injunction or rescission.
Our bylaws obligate us, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, to indemnify and, without requiring a preliminary determination as to the ultimate entitlement to indemnification, to pay or reimburse reasonable expenses before final disposition of a proceeding to:
any present or former director or officer who is made a party to the proceeding by reason of his service in that capacity; or
any individual who, while one of our directors or officers and at our request, serves or has served another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan or any other enterprise as a director, officer, partner or trustee of such corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan, or other enterprise and who is made a party to the proceeding by reason of his service in that capacity.
The bylaws authorize us, with the approval of our board, to provide indemnification and advancement of expenses to our agents and employees. We have entered into indemnification agreements with each of our directors and executive officers.
Unless limited by a corporation's charter, Maryland law requires a corporation to indemnify a director or officer who has been successful, on the merits or otherwise, in the defense of any proceeding to which he is made a party by reason of his
service in that capacity, or in the defense of any claim, issue or matter in the proceeding. Our charter does not alter this requirement.
Maryland law permits a corporation to indemnify its present and former directors and officers, among others, against:
reasonable expenses actually incurred by them in connection with any proceeding to which they may be made a party by reason of their service in those or other capacities.
Maryland law does not permit a corporation to indemnify its present and former directors and officers if it is established that:
the act or omission of the director or officer was material to the matter giving rise to the proceeding and was committed in bad faith or was the result of active and deliberate dishonesty;
the director or officer actually received an improper personal benefit in money, property or services; or
in the case of any criminal proceeding, the director or officer had reasonable cause to believe that the act or omission was unlawful.
Under Maryland law, a Maryland corporation generally may not indemnify for an adverse judgment in a suit by or in the right of the corporation. Also, a Maryland corporation generally may not indemnify for a judgment of liability on the basis that personal benefit was improperly received. In either of these cases, a Maryland corporation may indemnify for expenses only if a court so orders.
Maryland law permits a corporation to advance reasonable expenses to a director or officer. First, however, the corporation must receive a written affirmation by the director or officer of his good faith belief that he has met the standard of conduct necessary for indemnification by the corporation. The corporation must also receive a written undertaking, either by the director or officer or on his behalf, to repay the amount paid or reimbursed by the corporation if it shall ultimately be determined that the standard of conduct was not met. The termination of any proceeding by conviction, or upon a plea of nolo contendere or its equivalent, or an entry of any order of probation prior to judgment, creates a rebuttable presumption that the director or officer did not meet the requisite standard of conduct required for indemnification to be permitted.
It is the position of the Securities and Exchange Commission that indemnification of directors and officers for liabilities arising under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, is against public policy and is unenforceable pursuant to Section 14 of the Securities Act.