Description of Securities
DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES
The following is a brief description of the securities of Solar Capital Ltd. (the Company, we, our or us), registered pursuant to Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act). This description of the terms of our stock does not purport to be complete and is subject to and qualified in its entirety by reference to the applicable provisions of Maryland General Corporation Law, and the full text of our charter and bylaws. As of December 31, 2019 and the date hereof, our common stock is the only class of our securities registered under Section 12 of the Exchange Act.
As of December 31, 2019, our authorized stock consisted of 200,000,000 shares of stock, par value $0.01 per share, all of which are initially designated as common stock. Our common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol SLRC. There are no outstanding options or warrants to purchase our stock. No stock has been authorized for issuance under any equity compensation plans. Under Maryland law, our stockholders generally are not personally liable for our debts or obligations.
Under our charter our board of directors is authorized to classify and reclassify any unissued shares of stock into other classes or series of stock without obtaining stockholder approval. As permitted by the Maryland General Corporation Law, our charter provides that the board of directors, without any action by our stockholders, may amend the charter from time to time to increase or decrease the aggregate number of shares of stock or the number of shares of stock of any class or series that we have authority to issue.
All shares of our common stock have equal rights as to earnings, assets, voting, and distributions and, when they are issued, will be duly authorized, validly issued, fully paid and nonassessable. Distributions may be paid to the holders of our common stock if, as and when authorized by our board of directors and declared by us out of assets legally available therefor. Shares of our common stock have no preemptive, conversion or redemption rights and are freely transferable, except where their transfer is restricted by federal and state securities laws or by contract. In the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, each share of our common stock would be entitled to share ratably in all of our assets that are legally available for distribution after we pay all debts and other liabilities and subject to any preferential rights of holders of our preferred stock, if any preferred stock is outstanding at such time. Each share of our common stock is entitled to one vote on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders, including the election of directors. Except as provided with respect to any other class or series of stock, the holders of our common stock will possess exclusive voting power. There is no cumulative voting in the election of directors, which means that holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of common stock can elect all of our directors, and holders of less than a majority of such shares will be unable to elect any director.
Certain Provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law and Our Charter and Bylaws
The Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter and bylaws contain provisions that could make it more difficult for a potential acquiror to acquire us by means of a tender offer, proxy contest or otherwise. These provisions are expected to discourage certain coercive takeover practices and inadequate takeover bids and to encourage persons seeking to acquire control of us to negotiate first with our board of directors. We believe that the benefits of these provisions outweigh the potential disadvantages of discouraging any such acquisition proposals because, among other things, the negotiation of such proposals may improve their terms.
Classified Board of Directors
Our board of directors is divided into three classes of directors serving staggered three-year terms. The current terms of the first, second and third classes expire at the annual meeting of stockholders in 2022, 2020 and 2021, respectively, and in each case, those directors will serve until their successors are elected and qualify. Upon expiration of their current terms, directors of each class will be elected to serve for three-year terms and until their successors are duly elected and qualify and each year one class of directors will be elected by the stockholders. A classified board may render a change in control of us or removal of our incumbent management more difficult. We believe, however, that the longer time required to elect a majority of a classified board of directors will help to ensure the continuity and stability of our management and policies.
Election of Directors
Under our charter and bylaws, the affirmative vote of the holders of a plurality of all the votes cast in the election of directors at a meeting of stockholders duly called and at which a quorum is present will be required to elect a director. Pursuant to our charter our board of directors may amend the bylaws to alter the vote required to elect directors.
Number of Directors; Vacancies; Removal
Our charter provides that the number of directors will be set only by the board of directors in accordance with our bylaws. Our bylaws provide that a majority of our entire board of directors may at any time increase or decrease the number of directors. However, unless our bylaws are amended, the number of directors may never be less than one nor more than twelve. Our charter provides that, at such time as we have at least three independent directors and our common stock is registered under the Exchange Act, we elect to be subject to the provision of Subtitle 8 of Title 3 of the Maryland General Corporation Law regarding the filling of vacancies on the board of directors. Accordingly, except as may be provided by the board of directors in setting the terms of any class or series of preferred stock, any and all vacancies on the board of directors may be filled only by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors in office, even if the remaining directors do not constitute a quorum, and any director elected to fill a vacancy will serve for the remainder of the full term of the directorship in which the vacancy occurred and until a successor is elected and qualifies, subject to any applicable requirements of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the 1940 Act).
Our charter provides that, subject to the rights of holders of one or more classes or series of preferred stock to elect or remove one or more directors, a director may be removed only for cause, as defined in our charter, and then only by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast in the election of directors.
Action by Stockholders
Under the Maryland General Corporation Law, stockholder action can be taken only at an annual or special meeting of stockholders or (with respect to the holders of common stock, unless the charter provides for stockholder action by less than unanimous written consent, which our charter does not) by unanimous written consent in lieu of a meeting. These provisions, combined with the requirements of our bylaws regarding the calling of a stockholder-requested special meeting of stockholders discussed below, may have the effect of delaying consideration of a stockholder proposal until the next annual meeting.
Advance Notice Provisions for Stockholder Nominations and Stockholder Proposals
Our bylaws provide that with respect to an annual meeting of stockholders, nominations of persons for election to the board of directors and the proposal of business to be considered by stockholders may be made only (1) pursuant to our notice of the meeting, (2) by the board of directors or (3) by a stockholder who was a stockholder of record both at the time of giving notice and at the time of the meeting who is entitled to vote at the meeting and who has complied with the advance notice procedures of our bylaws. With respect to special meetings of stockholders, only the business specified in our notice of the meeting may be brought before the meeting. Nominations of persons for election to the board of directors at a special meeting may be made only (1) pursuant to our notice of the meeting, (2) by the board of directors or (3) provided that the board of directors has determined that directors will be elected at the meeting, by a stockholder who was a stockholder of record both at the time of giving notice and at the time of the meeting who is entitled to vote at the meeting and who has complied with the advance notice provisions of the bylaws.
The purpose of requiring stockholders to give us advance notice of nominations and other business is to afford our board of directors a meaningful opportunity to consider the qualifications of the proposed nominees and the advisability of any other proposed business and, to the extent deemed necessary or desirable by our board of directors, to inform stockholders and make recommendations about such qualifications or business, as well as to provide a more orderly procedure for conducting meetings of stockholders. Although our bylaws do not give our board of directors any power to disapprove stockholder nominations for the election of directors or proposals recommending certain action, they may have the effect of precluding a contest for the election of directors or the consideration of stockholder proposals if proper procedures are not followed and of discouraging or deterring a third party from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect its own slate of directors or to approve its own proposal without regard to whether consideration of such nominees or proposals might be harmful or beneficial to us and our stockholders.
Calling of Special Meetings of Stockholders
Our bylaws provide that special meetings of stockholders may be called by our board of directors and certain of our officers. Additionally, our bylaws provide that, subject to the satisfaction of certain procedural and informational requirements by the stockholders requesting the meeting, a special meeting of stockholders will be called by the secretary of the corporation upon the written request of stockholders entitled to cast not less than a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast at such meeting.
Approval of Extraordinary Corporate Action; Amendment of Charter and Bylaws
Under Maryland law, a Maryland corporation generally cannot dissolve, amend its charter, merge, convert, 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 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 of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Our charter generally provides for approval of charter amendments and extraordinary transactions by the stockholders entitled to cast at least a majority of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Our charter also provides that certain charter amendments, any proposal for our conversion, whether by charter amendment, merger or otherwise, from a closed-end company to an open-end company and any proposal for our liquidation or dissolution requires the approval of the stockholders entitled to cast at least 80% of the votes entitled to be cast on such matter. However, if such amendment or proposal is approved by a majority of our continuing directors (in addition to approval by our board of directors), such amendment or proposal may be approved by a majority of the votes entitled to be cast on such a matter. The continuing directors are defined in our charter as (1) our current directors, (2) those directors whose nomination for election by the stockholders or whose election by the directors to fill vacancies is approved by a majority of our current directors then on the board of directors or (3) any successor directors whose nomination for election by the stockholders or whose election by the directors to fill vacancies is approved by a majority of continuing directors or the successor continuing directors then in office. In any event, in accordance with the requirements of the 1940 Act, any amendment or proposal that would have the effect of changing the nature of our business so as to cause us to cease to be, or to withdraw our election as, a business development company would be required to be approved by a majority of our outstanding voting securities, as defined under the 1940 Act.
Our charter and bylaws provide that the board of directors will have the exclusive power to make, alter, amend or repeal any provision of our bylaws.
No Appraisal Rights
Except with respect to appraisal rights arising in connection with the Control Share Act discussed below, as permitted by the Maryland General Corporation Law, our charter provides that stockholders will not be entitled to exercise appraisal rights unless a majority of the board of directors shall determine such rights apply.
Control Share Acquisitions
The Maryland General Corporation Law provides that a holder of control shares of a Maryland corporation acquired in a control share acquisition has no voting rights with respect to those shares except to the extent approved by a vote of two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter (the Control Share Act). Shares 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 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.
The requisite stockholder approval must be obtained each time an acquiror crosses one of the thresholds of voting power set forth above. 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, including, as provided in our bylaws compliance with the 1940 Act. Fair value is determined, without regard to the absence of voting rights for the 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 the 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 appraisal rights may not be less than the highest price per share paid by the acquiror in the control share acquisition.
The Control Share Act does not apply (a) to shares acquired in a merger, consolidation or share exchange if the corporation is a party to the transaction or (b) to acquisitions approved or
exempted by the charter or bylaws of the corporation. Our bylaws contain a provision exempting from the Control Share Act any and all acquisitions by any person of our shares of stock. There can be no assurance that such provision will not be amended or eliminated at any time in the future. However, we will amend our bylaws to be subject to the Control Share Act only if the board of directors determines that it would be in our best interests and if the SEC staff does not object to our determination that our being subject to the Control Share Act does not conflict with the 1940 Act.
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 (the Business Combination Act). 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 10% or more of the voting power of the corporations 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 of 10% or more of the voting power of the then outstanding voting stock of the corporation.
A person is not an interested stockholder under this statute if the board of directors approved in advance the transaction by which the stockholder 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 corporations 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. Our board of directors has adopted a resolution that any business combination between us and any other person is exempted from the provisions of the Business Combination Act, provided that the business combination is first approved by the board of directors, including a majority of the directors who are not interested persons as defined in the 1940 Act. This resolution may be altered or repealed in whole or in part at any time; however, our board of directors will adopt resolutions so as to make us subject to the provisions of the Business Combination Act only if the board of directors determines that it would be in our best interests and if the SEC staff does not object to our determination that our being subject to the Business Combination Act does not conflict with the 1940 Act. If this resolution is repealed, or the board of directors does not otherwise approve a business combination, the statute may discourage others from trying to acquire control of us and increase the difficulty of consummating any offer.
Conflict with 1940 Act
Our bylaws provide that, if and to the extent that any provision of the Maryland General Corporation Law, including the Control Share Act (if we amend our bylaws to be subject to such Act) and the Business Combination Act, or any provision of our charter or bylaws conflicts with any provision of the 1940 Act, the applicable provision of the 1940 Act will control.