Description of Common Stock
The following description of the common stock (“Common Stock”) of Preferred Apartment Communities, Inc. (the “Company”) summarizes material terms and provisions that apply to our Common Stock. The summary may not contain all of the information that is important to you and is subject to and qualified in its entirety by reference to our Articles of Amendment and Restatement of the Company (our "charter"), and our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws (our "bylaws"), each of which is filed as an exhibit to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of which this Exhibit is a part. References in this Exhibit to “we,” “us” and “our” refer to the Company, unless the context otherwise requires.
Our charter authorizes us to issue up to 400,066,666 shares of common stock, $0.01 par value per share and 15,000,000 shares of preferred stock, $0.01 par value per share.
Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "APTS."
Subject to the preferential rights of our outstanding preferred stock and any preferential rights of any other class or series of stock and to the provisions of our charter regarding the restrictions on the ownership and transfer of stock, the holders of common stock are entitled to such distributions as may be authorized from time to time by our Board of Directors and declared by us out of legally available funds and, upon our liquidation, are entitled to receive all assets available for distribution to our stockholders. Holders of common stock will not have preemptive rights, which means that they will not have an automatic option to purchase any new shares that we issue, or preference, conversion, exchange, sinking fund or redemption rights. Holders of common stock generally will have no appraisal rights.
The holders of common stock shall vote together as a single class on all matters. Holders of shares of common stock shall be entitled to vote for the election of directors. Directors may be removed from office, with or without cause, by the affirmative vote of the holders of not less than 66 2/3% of the total voting power of all outstanding common stock. Vacancies on the Board of Directors resulting from death, resignation, removal or otherwise and newly created directorships resulting from any increase in the number of directors may be filled by a majority of the directors then in office (although less than a quorum). Any such director elected to fill a vacancy will hold office until the next annual meeting of stockholders and until his or her successor is elected and qualifies or until his or her earlier death, resignation or removal.
Meetings and Special Voting Requirements
Subject to our charter restrictions on ownership and transfer of our stock and except as may otherwise be specified in our charter, each holder of common stock is entitled at each meeting of stockholders to one vote per share owned by such stockholder on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders. There is no cumulative voting in the election of our Board of Directors. In an uncontested election of directors, each director is elected by a majority of total votes cast for and against such director nominee at a meeting of stockholders dully called and at which a quorum is present. A plurality of all the votes cast at a meeting of stockholders duly called and at which a quorum is present shall be sufficient to elect a director in a contested election.
Under Maryland law, a Maryland corporation generally cannot dissolve, amend its charter, merge, convert, sell all or substantially all its assets, engage in a share exchange or engage in similar transactions outside the ordinary course of business, unless declared advisable by the Board of Directors and approved by the affirmative vote of stockholders entitled to cast at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. However, a Maryland corporation may provide in its charter for approval of these matters by a lesser percentage, but not less than a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Our charter does not provide for a lesser percentage in these situations.
An annual meeting of our stockholders will be held each year. Special meetings of stockholders may be called upon the request of a majority of our directors, the chairman of the Board, the president or the chief executive officer and must be called by our secretary to act on any matter that may properly be considered at a meeting of stockholders upon the written request of stockholders entitled to cast at least a majority of the votes entitled to be cast on such matter at the meeting (subject to the stockholders’ compliance with certain procedures set forth in our bylaws). The presence of stockholders entitled to cast
at least a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast at such meeting on any matter, either in person or by proxy, will constitute a quorum.
One or more persons who together are and for at least six months have been stockholders of record of at least five percent of the outstanding shares of any class of our stock are entitled to receive a copy of our stockholder list upon request in accordance with Maryland law. The list provided by us will include each stockholder’s name and address and the number of shares owned by each stockholder and will be made available within 20 days of the receipt by us of the request. Stockholders and their representatives shall also be given access to our bylaws, the minutes of stockholder proceedings, our annual statements of affairs and any voting trust agreements on file at our principal office during usual business hours. We have the right to request that a requesting stockholder represent to us that the list and records will not be used to pursue commercial interests.
Advance Notice of Director Nominations and New Business
Proposals to elect directors or conduct other business at an annual or special meeting must be brought in accordance with our bylaws. The bylaws provide that any business may be transacted at the annual meeting without being specifically designated in the notice of meeting. However, with respect to special meetings of stockholders, only the business specified in the notice of the special meeting may be brought at that meeting.
Our bylaws also provide that nominations of individuals for election to the Board of Directors may be made at an annual meeting (1) pursuant to the Company’s notice of meeting, (2) by or at the direction of our Board of Directors, or (3) by any stockholder who is a stockholder of record both at the time of giving of notice pursuant to the bylaws and at the time of the annual meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting in the election of each individual so nominated and who has complied with the advance notice procedures set forth in our bylaws. Our bylaws further provide that the proposal of other business to be considered by stockholders may be made at an annual meeting (x) pursuant to the notice of meeting, (y) by or at the direction of our Board of Directors, or (z) by any stockholder of record both at the time of giving notice pursuant to the bylaws and at the time of the annual meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting on any such other business and who has complied with the advance notice provisions set forth in our bylaws.
A notice of a director nomination or stockholder proposal to be considered at an annual meeting must be delivered to our secretary at our principal executive offices:
not later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the 120th day nor earlier than 150 days prior to the first anniversary of the date of release of the proxy statement for the previous year’s annual meeting; or
if the date of the meeting is advanced or delayed by more than 30 days from the anniversary date, not earlier than 150 days prior to the annual meeting or not later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the later of the 120th day prior to the annual meeting or the tenth day following the day on which public announcement of the date of such meeting is first made.
Nominations of individuals for election to the Board of Directors may be made at a special meeting, (A) by or at the direction of our Board of Directors, (B) by a stockholder that has requested that a special meeting be called for the purpose of electing directors in compliance with the procedures set forth in our bylaws and that has supplied the information required by our bylaws about each individual whom such stockholder proposes to nominate for election as a director, or (C) provided that the special meeting has been called for the purpose of electing directors, by any stockholder who is a stockholder of record both at the time of giving of notice and at the time of the special meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting in the election of each individual so nominated and who complies with the notice procedures set forth in our bylaws.
A notice of a director nomination to be considered at a special meeting must be delivered to our secretary at our principal executive offices:
not earlier than 120 days prior to the special meeting; and
not later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the later of either:
ninety days prior to the special meeting; or
ten days following the day of our first public announcement of the date of the special meeting and the nominees proposed by our Board of Directors to be elected at the meeting.
Restrictions on Ownership and Transfer
In order for us to continue to qualify as a REIT under the Code, we must meet the following criteria regarding our stockholders’ ownership of our shares:
we cannot be "closely held" under Section 856(h) of the Code; that is, five or fewer individuals (as specially defined in the Code to include specified private foundations, employee benefit plans and trusts and charitable trusts and subject to certain constructive ownership rules) may not own, directly or indirectly, more than 50% in value of our outstanding shares during the last half of a taxable year, other than our first REIT taxable year; and
100 or more persons must beneficially own our shares during at least 335 days of a taxable year of twelve months or during a proportionate part of a shorter taxable year, other than our first REIT taxable year.
Our charter provides (subject to certain exceptions) that no person may own, or be deemed to own by virtue of the attribution provisions of the Code, more than 9.8% in value of the aggregate of our outstanding shares of stock or more than 9.8% (in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive) of any class or series of shares of our stock. Our Board of Directors, in its sole discretion, may waive this ownership limit (prospectively or retroactively) if evidence satisfactory to our directors, including certain representations and undertakings required by our charter, is presented that such ownership will not then or in the future jeopardize our status as a REIT. Also, these restrictions on transferability and ownership will not apply if our directors determine that it is no longer in our best interests to continue to qualify as a REIT or that compliance with such restrictions is no longer required in order for us to qualify as a REIT.
In addition to prohibiting the transfer or ownership of our stock that would result in any person owning, directly or indirectly, shares of our stock in excess of the foregoing ownership limitations, our charter prohibits the transfer or ownership of our stock if such transfer or ownership would:
• with respect to transfers only, result in our stock being beneficially owned by fewer than 100 persons, determined without reference to any rules of attribution;
• result in our being "closely held" within the meaning of Section 856(h) of the Code (regardless of whether the ownership interest is held during the last half of a taxable year);
• result in our owning, directly or indirectly, more than 9.8% of the ownership interests in any tenant or subtenant; or
• otherwise result in our disqualification as a REIT.
If any attempted transfer of our stock, if effective, would result in a violation of these limitations, then the number of shares causing the violation (rounded up to the nearest whole share) will be automatically transferred to a trust for the exclusive benefit of one or more charitable beneficiaries (or, in the case of a transfer that would result in our stock being beneficially owned by fewer than 100 persons, be void), and the proposed transferee will not acquire any rights in the shares. To avoid confusion, these shares so transferred to a beneficial trust will be referred to here as "Excess Securities." Excess Securities will remain issued and outstanding shares and will be entitled to the same rights and privileges as all other shares of the same class or series. The trustee of the beneficial trust, as holder of the Excess Securities, will be entitled to receive all distributions authorized by the Board of Directors on such securities for the benefit of the charitable beneficiary. Our charter further entitles the trustee of the beneficial trust to vote all Excess Securities and, subject to Maryland law, to rescind as void any vote cast by the proposed transferee of Excess Securities prior to our discovery of the Excess Securities and to recast the vote in accordance with the desires of the trustee acting for the benefit of the charitable beneficiary. However, if we have already taken irreversible corporate action, then the trustee will not have the authority to rescind and recast the vote. If a transfer to the trust would be ineffective for any reason to prevent a violation of any of the foregoing restrictions, the transfer resulting in such violation will be void from the time of such purported transfer.
The trustee of the beneficial trust will select a transferee to whom the Excess Securities may be sold as long as such sale does not violate the 9.8% ownership limit or the other restrictions on ownership and transfer. Upon sale of the Excess Securities, the intended transferee (the transferee of the Excess Securities whose ownership would have violated the 9.8% ownership limit or the other restrictions on ownership and transfer) will receive from the trustee of the beneficial trust the lesser of such sale proceeds, or the price per share the intended transferee paid for the Excess Securities (or, in the case of a gift or devise to the intended transferee, the price per share equal to the market value per share on the date of the event causing the shares to be held in the beneficial trust). The trustee may reduce the amount payable to the intended transferee by the amount of dividends and other distributions which have been paid to the intended transferee and are owed by the intended transferee to the trustee. The trustee of the beneficial trust will distribute to the charitable beneficiary any amount the trustee receives in excess of the amount to be paid to the intended transferee.
In addition, we have the right to purchase any Excess Securities at the lesser of (i) the price per share paid in the transfer that created the Excess Securities (or, in the case of a devise or gift, the market price at the time of such devise or gift), and (ii) the market price on the date we, or our designee, exercise such right. We may reduce the amount payable to the intended transferee by the amount of dividends and other distributions which have been paid to the intended transferee and are owed by the intended transferee to the trustee. We will have the right to purchase the Excess Securities until the trustee has sold the shares. Upon a sale to us, the interest of the charitable beneficiary in the shares sold will terminate and the trustee will distribute the net proceeds of the sale to the intended transferee.
Any person who (i) acquires or attempts or intends to acquire shares in violation of the foregoing ownership limitations, or (ii) would have owned shares that resulted in a transfer to a charitable trust, is required to give us immediate written notice or, in the case of a proposed or intended transaction, 15 days’ written notice. In both cases, such persons must provide to us such other information as we may request in order to determine the effect, if any, of such transfer on our status as a REIT. The foregoing restrictions will continue to apply until our Board of Directors determines it is no longer in our best interest to continue to qualify as a REIT or that compliance with the restrictions is no longer required in order for us to qualify as a REIT.
The 9.8% ownership limit does not apply to the underwriters in a public offering of shares. Any person who owns more than 5% (or such lower percentage as required by the Code or the Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder) of the outstanding shares during any taxable year will be asked to deliver a statement or affidavit setting forth the name and address of such owner, the number of shares beneficially owned, directly or indirectly, and a description of the manner in which such shares are held. Each such person also must provide us with such additional information as we may request in order to determine the effect of such ownership on our status as a REIT and to ensure compliance with the 9.8% ownership limit.
Transfer Agent and Registrar
The transfer agent and registrar for our shares of our Common Stock is Computershare Trust Company, N.A.
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, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of the voting power of the corporation’s outstanding voting stock; or
• an affiliate or associate of the corporation who, at any time within the two-year period prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner, directly or indirectly, of 10% or more of the voting power of the then outstanding stock of the corporation.
A person is not an interested stockholder under the statute if the board of directors approved in advance the transaction by which he otherwise would have become an interested stockholder. However, in approving a transaction, the board of directors may provide that its approval is subject to compliance, at or after the time of approval, with any terms and conditions determined by the board.
After the five-year prohibition, any business combination between the Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder generally must be recommended by the board of directors 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 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.
The statute permits various exemptions from its provisions, including business combinations that are exempted by the board of directors before the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. Pursuant to the statute, our
Board of Directors has adopted a resolution exempting any business combination with our manager or any affiliate of our manager. Consequently, the five-year prohibition and the super-majority vote requirements will not apply to business combinations between us and our manager or any affiliate of our manager. As a result, our manager or any affiliate of our manager may be able to enter into business combinations with us that may not be in the best interest of our stockholders, without compliance with the super-majority vote requirements and the other provisions of the statute.
The business combination statute may discourage others from trying to acquire control of us and increase the difficulty of consummating any offer.
Control Share Acquisitions
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 the affirmative vote of holders of two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Shares owned by the acquiror, by officers or by employees who are directors 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 in respect of 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. A control share acquisition means the acquisition of issued and outstanding control shares, subject to certain exceptions.
A person who has made or proposes to make a control share acquisition may compel the board of directors of the corporation to call a special meeting of stockholders to be held within 50 days of demand to consider the voting rights of the shares. The right to compel the calling of a special meeting is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, including an undertaking to pay the expenses of the meeting. 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 redeem for fair value any or all of the control shares, except those for which voting rights have previously 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 the control shares, as of the date of any meeting of stockholders at which the voting rights of the shares are considered and not approved or, if no such meeting is held, as of the date of the last control share acquisition by the acquiror. 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 appraisal rights may not be less than the highest price per share paid by the acquiror in the control share acquisition.
The control share acquisition statute does not apply: (i) to shares acquired in a merger, consolidation or share exchange if the corporation is a party to the transaction; or (ii) to acquisitions approved or exempted by the charter or bylaws of the corporation.
Our bylaws contain a provision exempting from the control share acquisition statute any and all acquisitions by any person of shares of our stock. This provision may be amended or eliminated at any time in the future.
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 its charter or bylaws, to any or all of five provisions:
• 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 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; and
• a majority requirement for the calling of a stockholder-requested special meeting of stockholders.
Our charter and bylaws provide that vacancies on our Board of Directors may be filled by the remaining directors. Any such director elected to fill a vacancy will hold office until the next annual meeting of stockholders and until his or her successor is elected and qualifies or until his or her earlier death, resignation or removal. Our charter also vests in the Board of Directors the exclusive power to fix the number of directorships. In addition, our charter provides that any director may be removed from office, with or without cause, by the affirmative vote of the holders of not less than 66-2/3% of the total voting power of all outstanding common stock. Our bylaws require, unless called by our chairman of the Board of Directors, president, chief executive officer or Board of Directors, the request of holders of a majority of outstanding shares to call a special meeting to act on any matter that may properly be considered at a meeting of stockholders. We have not elected to be subject to the other provisions of Subtitle 8.
Amendments to Our Charter and Bylaws
As provided in the MGCL, amendments to our Charter must be advised by our board of directors and approved by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Pursuant to both our Charter and our Bylaws, our board of directors has the exclusive authority to amend our Bylaws.