Description of Securities
DESCRIPTION OF REGISTRANT’S SECURITIES
REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
The following is a description of One Liberty Properties, Inc.’s securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), as of December 31, 2019, and certain provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law (the “MGCL”), our Articles of Amendment and Restatement, as amended (the “Charter”), and our bylaws, as amended (the “Bylaws”). Copies of our Charter and Bylaws are filed as exhibits to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019.
As used herein, the terms “Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to One Liberty Properties, Inc., a Maryland corporation.
Our Charter provides that we may issue up to 37,500,000 shares of stock, consisting of 25,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $1.00 per share, and 12,500,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $1.00 per share. We refer to our common stock and preferred stock collectively as our “capital stock.”
Subject to the preferential rights of any other class or series of capital stock, holders of shares of our common stock are entitled to receive distributions on such shares if, as and when authorized by our board of directors and declared by us out of assets legally available for distribution and to share ratably in our assets legally available for distribution to our stockholders in the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding-up after payment of, or adequate provision for, all known debts and liabilities.
Subject to the preferential rights of any other class or series of capital stock, each outstanding share of our common stock entitles the holder to one vote on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders, including the election of directors. There is no cumulative voting in the election of directors, which means that the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of our common stock, voting as one class, can elect all of the directors then standing for election, and the holders of the remaining shares of our common stock will not be able to elect any directors. Holders of shares of common stock have no preference, conversion, sinking fund, redemption, exchange or preemptive rights to subscribe for any of our securities.
Our Charter authorizes our board of directors to take such action, in addition to the other provisions contained therein, as it deems necessary or advisable, to protect us and the interests of our stockholders by preserving our status as a REIT. Our Charter authorizes our board of directors to refuse or prevent a transfer of shares of our capital stock to any person whose acquisition of such shares would, in the opinion of our board of directors, result in our disqualification as a REIT. In addition, any transfer of our capital stock that, if effective, would result in (i) a stockholder owning shares in excess of the ownership limit set forth in our Charter (as described under “Provisions of Maryland Law and of our Charter and Bylaws—Restrictions on Ownership and Transfer”), (ii) our shares of capital stock being owned by less than 100 persons or (iii) our company being “closely held,” shall be void from the date of the purported transfer.
Pursuant to the MGCL, a corporation generally cannot (except under and in compliance with specifically enumerated provisions of the MGCL) dissolve, amend its charter, merge, sell all or substantially all of its assets, engage in a share exchange or engage in similar transactions outside the ordinary course of business unless the affirmative vote of stockholders entitled to cast at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, approves such action, unless a lesser percentage (but not less than a majority of all of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter) is set forth in the corporation’s charter. Our Charter provides for approval of any such action by a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the matter, except that an amendment to our Charter changing the rights, privileges or preferences of any class or series of outstanding stock must be approved by not less than two-thirds of the outstanding shares of such class or series of stock.
Our Charter grants authority to our board of directors to authorize from time to time the issue, in one or more classes or series, of up to 12,500,000 shares of preferred stock, par value $1.00 per share. Our Charter also authorizes our board of directors to classify and reclassify any unissued shares of our preferred stock into one or more classes or series of preferred stock. Before authorizing the issuance of a new class or series of preferred stock, our board of directors must, subject to the provisions of the Charter regarding the restrictions on ownership and transfer of our stock, fix the preferences, conversion and other rights, voting powers, restrictions, limitations as to dividends and other distributions, qualifications and terms and conditions of redemption for each class or series.
These actions may be taken without stockholder approval unless such approval is required by applicable law, the terms of any other class or series of our stock or the rules of any stock exchange or automated quotation system on which any shares of our stock are listed or traded. Therefore, our board of directors could authorize the issuance of shares of preferred stock that have priority over our common stock with respect to dividends or other distributions or rights upon liquidation or the issuance of shares of common stock or preferred stock with terms and conditions that could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control or other transaction that might involve a premium price for our common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.
Provisions of Maryland Law and of Our Charter and Bylaws
Restrictions on Ownership and Transfer
In order for us to qualify as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), not more than 50% in value of our outstanding shares may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals (defined in the Code to include certain entities such as qualified pension plans) during the last half of a taxable year and shares must be beneficially owned by 100 or more persons during at least 335 days of a taxable year of twelve months (or during a proportionate part of a shorter taxable year).
Because our board of directors determined that it is important for us to continue to qualify as a REIT, our Charter restricts, subject to certain exceptions, the number of shares that a person may own. These restrictions are designed to safeguard us against an inadvertent loss of REIT status—they terminate in the event the board of directors determines that it is not in our best interest to qualify as a REIT.
Pursuant to our Charter, (i) any stockholder who beneficially owned (as determined pursuant to our Charter) a total amount or value in excess of 9.9% of our capital stock on June 14, 2005 was prohibited from beneficially owning in excess of a total amount or value of our capital stock that may cause us to violate such provisions of the Code relating to REITs, and (ii) any other person was restricted from beneficially owning a total amount or value of 9.9% or more of any class or series of common stock and preferred stock of our company, which we refer to as the “ownership limit” or the “ownership limitation.” Pursuant to the attribution rules under the Code, Fredric H. Gould, vice‑chairman of our board of directors, is our only stockholder that beneficially owned in excess of 9.9% of our capital stock on June 14, 2005. Therefore, except as limited by the Code and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, or as our board of directors may otherwise require, Mr. Gould is the only person permitted to own and acquire shares of our capital stock, directly or indirectly, in excess of 9.9% of total amount or value.
The stock ownership rules under the Code are complex and may cause the outstanding shares of capital stock owned by a group of related individuals or entities to be deemed to be beneficially owned by one individual or entity. Specific attribution rules apply in determining whether an individual or entity owns any class or series of common stock or preferred stock of our company. Under these rules, any shares owned by a corporation, partnership, estate or trust are deemed to be owned proportionately by such entities’ stockholders, partners, or beneficiaries. Furthermore, an individual stockholder is deemed to own any shares that are owned, directly or indirectly, by that stockholders’ brothers and sisters, spouse, parents or other ancestors, and children or other descendants. In addition, a stockholder is deemed to own any shares that he can acquire by exercising options.
As a result of these attribution rules, even though a stockholder may own less than 9.9% of a class of outstanding shares, that individual or entity may be deemed to beneficially own 9.9% or more of the class of outstanding stock, which would subject the individual or entity to the ownership limitations contained in our Charter. Our Charter provides that any attempt to acquire or transfer shares of common stock or preferred stock and any resulting transfer thereof which would result in a stockholder owning an amount that equals or exceeds the ownership limit without the consent of the board of directors shall be null and void.
In the event that the board of directors or its designees determines in good faith that a prohibited transfer has taken place or is intended, the board or its designee is authorized to take any action it deems advisable to void or to prevent the transfer. These actions include, among other things, refusing to give effect to the transfer on the books of our company, instituting legal proceedings to enjoin the transfer, redeeming the shares purported to be transferred for an amount which may be less than the price the stockholder paid for such shares, and transferring the shares by operation of law to a charitable trust. In the event the shares are transferred to a charitable trust, any dividends on such shares shall inure to such charitable trust and the trustee of such charitable trust shall be entitled to all voting rights with respect to such shares.
Our board of directors may increase or decrease the ownership limits, provided (1) any decrease may, with specified exceptions, only be made prospectively to subsequent holders and (2) any increase may only be made if, after giving effect to the increase, five or fewer beneficial stockholders could not beneficially own in the aggregate more than 49% of the outstanding shares. Prior to modification of the ownership limit, our board may require such opinions of counsel, affidavits, undertakings or agreements as it may deem necessary or advisable in order to determine or ensure our status as a REIT. In addition, our board of directors, upon receipt of a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service, an opinion of counsel that such exemption will not result in our being “closely held” or such other evidence as our board of directors may require, may exempt a person from the ownership limits on such conditions as our board of directors deems necessary in its sole discretion.
Neither the ownership restrictions described above nor the ownership limit will be removed automatically even if the REIT provisions of the Code are changed so as no longer to contain any ownership concentration limitation or if the ownership concentration limitation is increased. Except as described above, any change in the ownership restrictions would require an amendment to our Charter. Amendments to our charter generally require the affirmative vote of holders owning not less than a majority of the outstanding shares entitled to vote thereon. In addition to preserving our status as a REIT, the ownership restrictions and the ownership limit may have the effect of precluding an acquisition of control of our company without the approval of our board of directors.
The ownership limit could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a transaction or a change in control of our company that might involve a premium price for the common shares or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.
Classification of Our Board of Directors, Vacancies and Removal of Directors
Our Charter provides that our board of directors is divided into three classes. Directors of each class serve for terms ending at the third annual meeting of our stockholders and upon their successors being elected and qualifying, with the terms of each class beginning in different years.
At each annual meeting of our stockholders, successors of the class of directors whose term expires at that meeting are elected for a term ending at the third annual meeting of our stockholders and upon their successors being elected and qualifying, and the directors in the other two classes continue in office. A classified board may delay, defer or prevent a change in control or other transaction that might involve a premium over the then prevailing market price for our common stock or other attributes that our stockholders may consider desirable. In addition, a classified board could prevent stockholders who do not agree with the policies of our board of directors from replacing a majority of the board of directors for two years, except in the event of removal for cause.
Our Bylaws provide that any vacancy on our board may be filled by action of a majority of the remaining directors. A director elected by the board to fill a vacancy will hold office until the next annual meeting of stockholders or until his or her successor is elected and qualified. Our Charter provides that our stockholders may only remove an incumbent director for cause, at a meeting of the stockholders duly called and at which a quorum is present, upon an affirmative vote of the majority of all of the outstanding shares entitled to vote thereon.
Our Charter and Bylaws obligate us to indemnify our directors and officers to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law. The MGCL permits a Maryland corporation to indemnify its present and former directors and officers against judgments, penalties, fines, settlements and reasonable expenses actually incurred by them in connection with any proceeding to which they may be a party by reason of their service in those or other capacities, unless it is established that (1) the act or omission of the director or officer was material to the matter giving rise to the proceeding and (a) was committed in bad faith, or (b) was the result of active and deliberate dishonesty, or (2) the director or officer actually received an improper personal benefit in money, property or services, or (3) in the case of any criminal proceeding, the director or officer had reasonable cause to believe that the act or omission was unlawful.
A corporation may not indemnify a director or officer in a suit by or on behalf of the corporation in which the director or officer was adjudged liable to the corporation or in a suit in which the director or officer was adjudged liable on the basis that personal benefit was improperly received. A court may order indemnification if it determines that the director or officer is fairly and reasonably entitled to indemnification, even though the director or officer did not meet the prescribed standard of conduct or was adjudged liable on the basis that personal benefit was improperly received. However, indemnification for an adverse judgment in a suit by or on behalf of the corporation, or for a judgment of liability on the basis that personal benefit was improperly received, is limited to expenses.
Limitation of Liability
The MGCL permits the charter of a Maryland corporation to include a provision limiting the liability of its directors and officers to the corporation and its stockholders for money damages, except to the extent that (1) it is proved that the person actually received an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services, or (2) a judgment or other final adjudication is entered in a proceeding based on a finding that the person’s action, or failure to act, was the result of active and deliberate dishonesty and was material to the cause of action adjudicated in the proceeding. Our Charter provides for the elimination of the liability of our directors and officers to us or our stockholders for money damages to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law from time to time.
Maryland Business Combination Act
Pursuant to Article IX of our Charter, we have expressly elected not to be subject to, or governed by, the MGCL’s requirements for “business combinations” between a Maryland corporation and “interested stockholders.”
Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act
Maryland law provides that “control shares” of a Maryland corporation acquired in a “control share acquisition” have no voting rights except to the extent approved by a stockholder vote. Two‑thirds of the shares eligible to vote (excluding all interested shares) must vote in favor of granting the “control shares” voting rights. “Control shares” are voting shares which, if aggregated with all other shares previously acquired by the acquiring person, or in respect of which the acquiring person is able to exercise or direct the exercise of voting power, other than by revocable proxy, would entitle the acquiring person to exercise voting power of at least 10% of the voting power in electing directors.
Control shares do not include shares of stock the acquiring person is entitled to vote as a result of having previously obtained stockholder approval. A “control share acquisition” means the acquisition of control shares, subject to certain exceptions.
If a person who has made (or proposes to make) a control share acquisition satisfies certain conditions (including agreeing to pay expenses), that person may compel our board of directors to call a special meeting of stockholders to be held within 50 days to consider the voting rights of the shares. If that person makes no request for a meeting, we have the option to present the question at any stockholders’ meeting.
If voting rights are not approved at a meeting of stockholders, we may redeem any or all of the control shares (except those for which voting rights have previously been approved) for fair value. We will determine the fair value of the shares, without regard to voting rights, as of the date of the last control share acquisition by the acquiring person or, if any meeting is held at which stockholders considered and did not approve voting rights of the control shares, as of the date of such meeting.
If voting rights for control shares are approved at a stockholders’ meeting and the acquiror becomes entitled to vote a majority of the shares of stock entitled to vote, all other stockholders may exercise appraisal rights. This means that you would be able to cause us to redeem your stock for fair value. Under the MGCL, the fair value may not be less than the highest price per share paid in the control share acquisition. Furthermore, certain limitations otherwise applicable to the exercise of appraisal rights would not apply in the context of a control share acquisition.
The control share acquisition statute would not apply to shares acquired in a merger, consolidation or share exchange if we were a party to the transaction.
Article II, Section 11 of our Bylaws exempts any acquisition by Gould Investors L.P. of our equity securities from the provisions of the control share acquisition statute. This section of our Bylaws may not be amended or repealed without the written consent of Gould Investors L.P. or approval of the holders of at least two‑thirds of the outstanding shares of our capital stock.
The control share acquisition statute could have the effect of discouraging offers to acquire us and of increasing the difficulty of consummating any such offers, even if our acquisition would be in our stockholders’ best interests.
Subtitle 8 of Title 3 of the MGCL permits a Maryland corporation with a class of equity securities registered under the Exchange Act and at least three independent directors to elect to be subject, by provision in its charter or bylaws or a resolution of its board of directors and notwithstanding any contrary provision in the charter or bylaws, to any or all of five provisions of the MGCL which provide, respectively, for:
a classified board;
a two-thirds vote requirement for removing a director;
a requirement that the number of directors be fixed only by vote of the board of directors;
a requirement that a vacancy on the board be filled only by the remaining directors and for the remainder of the full term of the class of directors in which the vacancy occurred; or
a majority requirement for the calling of a special meeting of stockholders.
Through provisions in our Charter and our Bylaws unrelated to Subtitle 8, we already have a classified board.
Amendment to Our Charter
The vote of a majority of the shares entitled to vote may amend our Charter, except that no amendment changing the terms or rights of any class or series of outstanding stock, by classification, re‑classification or otherwise, will be valid unless such amendment is authorized by not less than two‑thirds of the outstanding voting shares of such class or series of stock.
Amendment to Our Bylaws
Our board of directors has the power to alter, modify or repeal any of our Bylaws and to make new bylaws, except that our board may not alter, modify or repeal (1) any Bylaws made by stockholders; (2) Section 11 of Article II of our Bylaws governing the Gould Investors L.P. exemption from the control share acquisition statute; (3) Section 17 of Article III of our Bylaws that governs our investment policies and restrictions; or (4) Section 18 of Article III of our Bylaws that governs management arrangements.
In addition, our stockholders have the power to alter, modify or repeal any of our Bylaws and to make new bylaws by majority vote; however at least two‑ thirds of the holders of outstanding shares of any preferred stock must vote in favor of any amendment which changes the rights, privileges or preferences of such preferred stock, and the vote of at least two‑thirds of the holders of our outstanding shares of capital stock is needed to amend or repeal the Gould Investors L.P. exemption from the control share acquisition statute, as discussed above under “Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act.”