Description of Securities

EX-4.4 2 a20191231q410kex44.htm EX-4.4 Document

Exhibit 4.4


NewLink Genetics Corporation (the “Company”, “NewLink”, “we”, “our” or “us”) has one class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”): our common stock. The following summary of the terms of our common stock, is based upon our amended and restated certificate of incorporation (the “Charter”) and our amended and restated bylaws (the “Bylaws”). This summary does not purport to be complete and is subject to, and is qualified in its entirety by express reference to, the applicable provisions of our Charter and our Bylaws, which are filed as exhibits to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, of which this Exhibit 4.4 is a part, and are incorporated by reference herein. We encourage you to read our Charter, our Bylaws and the applicable provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”) for more information.

Under our Charter, we are authorized to issue up to 75,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.01 per share, and 5,000,000 shares of our preferred stock, par value $0.01 per share. Our board of directors may establish the rights and preferences of the preferred stock from time to time. As of December 31, 2019, we had outstanding 37,325,091 shares of common stock and no shares of preferred stock outstanding or designated.

NewLink’s common stock

Voting Rights

Each holder of 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, other than any amendment to the Charter that relates solely to the terms of one or more outstanding series of preferred stock, except as otherwise required by law. Our Charter and our Bylaws do not provide for cumulative voting rights. Because of this, the holders of a majority of the shares of our common stock entitled to vote in any election of directors can elect all of the directors standing for election, if they should so choose.


Subject to preferences that may apply to any outstanding preferred stock, holders of our common stock are entitled to receive ratably any dividends that our board of directors may declare out of funds legally available for that purpose on a non-cumulative basis.


In the event of 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 preference of any outstanding 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 preferred stock that we may designate in the future.

Transfer Agent

The transfer agent and registrar for our common stock is Computershare Shareowners Services, LLC.


Our common stock is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol “NLNK.”

Anti-Takeover Effects of Provisions of NewLink Charter Documents

Among other things, our Charter and our Bylaws provide for the following:
Our board of directors may issue up to 5,000,000 shares of our preferred stock, with such rights, preferences and privileges as the board of directors may designate.

The personal liability for monetary damages of our directors to us and to our stockholders is limited to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, including, without limitation, the DGCL. This provision 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.

Special meetings of stockholders may only be called by our 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, or the chief executive officer. In addition, our Bylaws establish procedures, including requirements for advance written notice and the form and content for stockholder notices, with regard to the nomination of candidates for election as directors and stockholder proposals. These provisions may delay or preclude stockholders from bringing matters before a meeting of stockholders or from making nominations for directors at a meeting of stockholders, which could delay or deter takeover attempts or changes in management.

Our board of directors is divided into three classes of directors, with each class 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.
Our Charter does not provide for cumulative voting for our directors. The absence of cumulative voting may make it more difficult for stockholders owning less than a majority of our stock to elect any directors to our board of directors. In addition, directors may be removed only for cause, and removal requires the affirmative vote of the holders of 66 2/3% of our voting stock.

Subject to the rights of the holders of any outstanding series of our preferred stock, all vacancies, including newly created directorships, may, except as otherwise required by law, be filled only by the affirmative vote of a majority of our directors then in office, even if less than a quorum, unless the board of directors determines by resolution that any such vacancies will be filled by the stockholders. In addition, the authorized number of directors may be changed only by resolution of our board of directors.
Stockholders are permitted to amend our Bylaws only upon receiving at least 66 2/3% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of all outstanding shares then entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class.

The combination of these provisions will make 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. In addition, the authorization of 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 our control.
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 coercive takeover practices and inadequate takeover bids. These

provisions are also designed to reduce our vulnerability to hostile takeovers and 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 may have the effect of delaying changes in our control or management. As a consequence, these provisions may also inhibit fluctuations in the market price of our stock that could result from actual or rumored takeover attempts. We believe that the benefits of these provisions, including increased protection of our potential ability to negotiate with the proponent of an unfriendly or unsolicited proposal to acquire or restructure our company, outweigh the disadvantages of discouraging takeover proposals, because negotiation of takeover proposals could result in an improvement of their terms.

Anti-Takeover Effects of Delaware Law

We are subject to Section 203 of the DGCL, which prohibits a Delaware corporation from engaging in any business combination with any interested stockholder for a period of three years after the date that such stockholder became an interested stockholder, with the following exceptions:

before such date, the board of directors of the corporation approved either the business combination or the transaction that resulted in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder;

upon completion of the transaction that 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 began, excluding for purposes of determining the voting stock outstanding, but not the outstanding voting stock owned by the interested stockholder, those shares owned (i) by persons who are directors and also officers and (ii) 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

on or after such date, the business combination is approved by the board of directors and authorized at an annual or special meeting of the stockholders, and not by written consent, by the affirmative vote of at least 66 2/3% of the outstanding voting stock that is not owned by the interested stockholder.

In general, Section 203 defines a “business combination” to include the following:
any merger or consolidation involving the corporation and the interested stockholder;

any sale, transfer, pledge or other disposition of 10% or more of the assets of the corporation involving the interested stockholder;

subject to certain exceptions, any transaction that results in the issuance or transfer by the corporation of any stock of the corporation to the interested stockholder;

any transaction involving the corporation that has the effect of increasing the proportionate share of the stock or any class or series of the corporation beneficially owned by the interested stockholder; or

the receipt by the interested stockholder of the benefit of any loans, advances, guarantees, pledges or other financial benefits by or through the corporation.

In general, Section 203 defines an “interested stockholder” as an entity or person who, together with the entity or person’s affiliates and associates, beneficially owns, or is an affiliate or associate of the corporation and 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.