Description of Securities
Registered Pursuant to Section 12 of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
All references below to “National Vision Holdings, Inc.,” “National Vision,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us” refer to National Vision Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and not to its subsidiaries. As of December 28, 2019, National Vision had one class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended: common stock, par value $0.01 per share.
The following description of our common stock is a summary and does not purport to be complete. It is subject to and qualified in its entirety by reference to our Second Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, as amended (our “certificate of incorporation”) and our Second Amended and Restated Bylaws (our “bylaws”), which are each incorporated by reference as an exhibit to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of which this Exhibit is a part. We encourage you to read our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, and the applicable provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law ("DGCL") for additional information.
Authorized Capital Stock
Our authorized capital stock consists of 200,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.01 per share, and 50,000,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $0.01 per share.
Our certificate of incorporation authorizes our board of directors (the “Board of Directors”) to establish one or more series of preferred stock (including convertible preferred stock). Unless required by law or by NASDAQ, the authorized shares of preferred stock will be available for issuance without further action by shareholders. Our Board of Directors is able to determine, with respect to any series of preferred stock, the terms and rights of that series. [As of December 28, 2019, there were no outstanding series of preferred stock.]
Common Stock Voting and Other Rights
Holders of our common stock are entitled to one vote for each share held of record on all matters on which stockholders are entitled to vote generally, including the election or removal of directors, subject to certain limitations. For example, except as required by law, holders of our common stock are not entitled to vote on any amendment to the certificate of incorporation that relates solely to the terms of one or more outstanding series of preferred stock if the holders of such affected series are entitled, either separately or together with the holders of one or more other such series, to vote thereon pursuant to our certificate of incorporation or pursuant to the DGCL. The holders of our common stock do not have cumulative voting rights in the election of directors. Upon our liquidation, dissolution or winding up or the sale of all or substantially all of our assets and after payment in full of all amounts required to be paid to creditors and to the holders of preferred stock having liquidation preferences, if any, the holders of our common stock will be entitled to receive our remaining assets available for distribution on a pro rata basis. Holders of our common stock do not have preemptive, subscription, redemption or conversion rights. The common stock is not subject to further calls or assessment by us. There are no redemption or sinking fund provisions applicable to the common stock. The rights, powers, preferences and privileges of holders of our common stock will be subject to those of the holders of any shares of our preferred stock we may authorize and issue in the future.
The DGCL permits a corporation to declare and pay dividends out of “surplus” or, if there is no “surplus,” out of its net profits for the fiscal year in which the dividend is declared and/or the preceding fiscal year. “Surplus” is defined as the excess of the net assets of the corporation over the amount determined to be the capital of the corporation by the board of directors. The capital of the corporation is typically calculated to be (and cannot be less than) the aggregate par value of all issued shares of capital stock. Net assets equal the fair value of the total assets minus total liabilities. The DGCL also provides that dividends may not be paid out of net profits if, after the payment of the dividend, capital is less than the capital represented by the outstanding stock of all classes having a preference upon the distribution of assets.
Declaration and payment of any dividend will be subject to the discretion of our Board of Directors and the rights, if any, of the holders of any outstanding series of preferred stock or any class or series of stock having a preference over or the right to participate with the common stock with respect to the payment of dividends. The time and amount of dividends will be dependent upon our financial condition, operations, cash requirements and availability, debt repayment obligations, capital expenditure needs and restrictions in our debt instruments, industry trends, the provisions of Delaware law affecting the payment of dividends to stockholders and any other factors our Board of Directors may consider relevant.
Anti-Takeover Effects of Our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws and Certain Provisions of Delaware Law
Our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and the DGCL, which are summarized in the following paragraphs, contain provisions that are intended to enhance the likelihood of continuity and stability in the composition of our Board of Directors. These provisions are intended to avoid costly takeover battles, reduce our vulnerability to a hostile change of control and enhance the ability of our Board of Directors to maximize stockholder value in connection with any unsolicited offer to acquire us. However, these provisions may have an anti-takeover effect and may delay, deter or prevent a merger or acquisition of our company by means of a tender offer, a proxy contest or other takeover attempt that a stockholder might consider is in its best interest, including those attempts that might result in a premium over the prevailing market price for the shares of common stock held by stockholders.
Authorized but Unissued Capital Stock
Delaware law does not require stockholder approval for any issuance of authorized shares. However, the listing requirements of NASDAQ require stockholder approval of certain issuances equal to or exceeding 20% of the then outstanding voting power or then outstanding number of shares of common stock. These additional shares may be used for a variety of corporate purposes, including future public offerings, to raise additional capital or to facilitate acquisitions.
Our Board of Directors may issue shares of preferred stock on terms calculated to discourage, delay or prevent a change of control of our company or the removal of our management. Moreover, our authorized but unissued shares of preferred stock will be available for future issuances without stockholder approval and could be utilized for a variety of corporate purposes, including future offerings to raise additional capital, acquisitions and employee benefit plans.
One of the effects of the existence of unissued and unreserved common stock or preferred stock may be to enable our Board of Directors to issue shares to persons friendly to current management, which issuance could render more difficult or discourage an attempt to obtain control of our company by means of a merger, tender offer, proxy contest or otherwise, and thereby protect the continuity of our Board of Directors and our management and possibly deprive our stockholders of opportunities to sell their shares of common stock at prices higher than prevailing market prices.
Our certificate of incorporation provides that our Board of Directors be divided into three classes of directors, with the classes to be as nearly equal in number as possible, and with the directors serving three-year terms. As a result, approximately one-third of our Board of Directors is elected each year. The classification of directors has the effect of making it more difficult for stockholders to change the composition of our Board of Directors. Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws provide that, subject to any rights of holders of preferred stock to elect additional directors under specified circumstances, the number of directors will be fixed from time to time exclusively pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Board of Directors.
We have opted out of Section 203 of the DGCL; however, our certificate of incorporation contains similar provisions providing that we may not engage in certain “business combinations” with any “interested stockholder” for a three-year period following the time that the stockholder became an interested stockholder, unless:
prior to such time, 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 that 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 certain shares; or
at or subsequent to that time, the business combination is approved by our Board of Directors and by the affirmative vote of holders of at least 66 2∕3% of the outstanding voting stock that is not owned by the interested stockholder.
Generally, a “business combination” includes a merger, asset or stock sale or other transaction resulting in a financial benefit to the interested stockholder. Subject to certain exceptions, an “interested stockholder” is a person who, together with that person’s affiliates and associates, owns, or within the previous three years owned, 15% or more of our voting stock. For purposes of this section only, “voting stock” has the meaning given to it in Section 203 of the DGCL.
Under certain circumstances, this provision makes it more difficult for a person who would be an “interested stockholder” to effect various business combinations with a corporation for a three-year period. This provision may encourage companies interested in acquiring our company to negotiate in advance with our Board of Directors because the stockholder approval requirement would be avoided if our Board of Directors approves either the business combination or the transaction which results in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder. These provisions also may have the effect of preventing changes in our Board of Directors and may make it more difficult to accomplish transactions which stockholders may otherwise deem to be in their best interests.
Our certificate of incorporation provides that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. and Berkshire Partners LLC (collectively, the “Sponsors”), and their affiliates and any of their respective direct or indirect transferees and any group as to which such persons are a party do not constitute “interested stockholders” for purposes of this provision.
Removal of Directors; Vacancies
Under the DGCL, unless otherwise provided in our certificate of incorporation, directors serving on a classified board may be removed by the stockholders only for cause. Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws provide that directors may only be removed for cause and only by the affirmative vote of holders of at least 66 2∕3% in voting power of all the then outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class. In addition, our certificate of incorporation and our bylaws also provide that, subject to the rights granted to one or more series of preferred stock then outstanding, any newly created directorship on the Board of Directors that results from an increase in the number of directors and any vacancy occurring on the Board of Directors may only be filled by a majority of the directors then in office, even if less than a quorum, or by a sole remaining director (and not by the stockholders).
Special Stockholder Meetings
Our certificate of incorporation provides that special meetings of our stockholders may be called at any time only by or at the direction of the Board of Directors or the chairman of the Board of Directors. Our bylaws prohibit the conduct of any business at a special meeting other than as specified in the notice for such meeting. These provisions may have the effect of deferring, delaying or discouraging hostile takeovers, or changes in control or management of our company.
Requirements for Advance Notification of Director Nominations and Stockholder Proposals
Our 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. In order for any matter to be “properly brought” before a meeting, a stockholder has to comply with advance notice requirements and provide us with certain information. Generally, to be timely, a stockholder’s 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 immediately preceding annual meeting of stockholders. Our bylaws also specify requirements as to the form and content of a stockholder’s notice.
Our bylaws allow the chairman of the meeting at a meeting of the stockholders to adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of meetings which may have the effect of precluding the conduct of certain business at a meeting if the rules and regulations are not followed. These provisions may defer, delay or discourage a potential acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquirer’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to influence or obtain control of our company.
Stockholder Action by Written Consent
Our certificate of incorporation precludes stockholder action by written consent.
Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws provide that the Board of Directors is expressly authorized to make, alter, amend, change, add to, rescind or repeal, in whole or in part, our bylaws without a stockholder vote in any matter not inconsistent with the laws of the State of Delaware or our certificate of incorporation. Any amendment, alteration, change, addition, rescission or repeal of our bylaws by our stockholders requires the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66 2∕3% in voting power of all the then-outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class.
The DGCL provides generally that the affirmative vote of a majority of the outstanding shares entitled to vote thereon, voting together as a single class, is required to amend a corporation’s certificate of incorporation, unless the certificate of incorporation requires a greater percentage.
The following provisions in our certificate of incorporation may be amended, altered, repealed or rescinded only by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66 2∕3% in the voting power of all outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class:
the provision requiring a 66 2∕3% supermajority vote for stockholders to amend our bylaws;
the provisions providing for a classified board of directors (the election and term of our directors);
the provisions regarding resignation and removal of directors;
the provisions regarding competition and corporate opportunities;
the provisions regarding entering into business combinations with interested stockholders;
the provisions regarding stockholder action by written consent;
the provisions regarding calling special meetings of stockholders;
the provisions regarding filling vacancies on our Board of Directors and newly created directorships;
the provisions eliminating monetary damages for breaches of fiduciary duty by a director; and
the amendment provision requiring that the above provisions be amended only with a 66 2∕3% supermajority vote.
The combination of the classification of our Board of Directors, the lack of cumulative voting and the supermajority voting requirements makes it more difficult for our existing stockholders to replace our Board of Directors as well as for another party to obtain control of us by replacing our Board of Directors. Because our Board of Directors has the power to retain and discharge our officers, these provisions could also make it more difficult for existing stockholders or another party to effect a change in management.
These provisions may have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers, delaying, or preventing changes in control of our management or our company, such as a merger, reorganization or tender offer. These provisions are intended to enhance the likelihood of continued stability in the composition of our Board of Directors and its policies and to discourage certain types of transactions that may involve an actual or threatened acquisition of us. These provisions are designed to reduce our vulnerability to an unsolicited acquisition proposal. The provisions are also intended to discourage certain tactics that may be used in proxy fights. However, such provisions could have the effect of discouraging others from making tender offers for our shares and, as a consequence, they also may inhibit fluctuations in the market price of our shares that could result from actual or rumored takeover attempts. Such provisions may also have the effect of preventing changes in management.
Dissenters’ Rights of Appraisal and Payment
Under the DGCL, with certain exceptions, our stockholders will have appraisal rights in connection with a merger or consolidation of us. Pursuant to the DGCL, stockholders who properly request and perfect appraisal rights in connection with such merger or consolidation will have the right to receive payment of the fair value of their shares as determined by the Delaware Court of Chancery.
Stockholders’ Derivative Actions
Under the DGCL, any of our stockholders may bring an action in our name to procure a judgment in our favor, also known as a derivative action, provided that the stockholder bringing the action is a holder of our shares at the time of the transaction to which the action relates or such stockholder’s stock thereafter devolved by operation of law.
Our certificate of incorporation provides, subject to limited exceptions, that unless we consent to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, be the sole and exclusive forum for any (i) derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of our company, (ii) action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer, or other employee or stockholder of our company to the Company or our stockholders, creditors or other constituents, (iii) action asserting a claim against the Company or any director or officer of the Company arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL or our certificate of incorporation or our bylaws or as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, or (iv) action asserting a claim against the Company or any director or officer of the Company governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each such case subject to said Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of capital stock of our company shall be deemed to have notice of and consented to the forum provisions in our certificate of incorporation. However, the enforceability of similar forum provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that a court could find these types of provisions to be unenforceable.
Conflicts of Interest
Delaware law permits corporations to adopt provisions renouncing any interest or expectancy in certain opportunities that are presented to the corporation or its officers, directors or stockholders. Our certificate of incorporation, to the maximum extent permitted from time to time by Delaware law, renounces any interest or expectancy that we have in, or right to be offered an opportunity to participate in, specified business opportunities that are from time to time presented to our officers, directors or stockholders or their respective affiliates, other than those officers, directors, stockholders or affiliates who are our or our subsidiaries’ employees. Our certificate of incorporation provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, none of the Sponsors or any of their affiliates or any director who is not employed by us (including any non-employee director who serves as one of our officers in both his or her director and officer capacities) or his or her affiliates will have any duty to refrain from (i) engaging in a corporate opportunity in the same or similar lines of business in which we or our affiliates now engage or propose to engage or (ii) otherwise competing with us or our affiliates. In addition, to the fullest extent permitted by law, in the event that the Sponsors or any of their affiliates or any non-employee director acquires knowledge of a potential transaction or other business opportunity which may be a corporate opportunity for itself or himself or its or his affiliates or for us or our affiliates, such person will have no duty to communicate or offer such transaction or business opportunity to us or any of our affiliates and they may take any such opportunity for themselves or offer it to another person or entity. Our certificate of incorporation does not renounce our interest in any business opportunity that is expressly offered to a non-employee director solely in his or her capacity as a director or officer of the Company. To the fullest extent permitted by law, no business opportunity will be deemed to be a potential corporate opportunity for us unless we would be permitted to undertake the opportunity under our certificate of incorporation, we have sufficient financial resources to undertake the opportunity and the opportunity would be in line with our business.