Description of Registrants Securities
DESCRIPTION OF OUR SECURITIES
Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share
As of December 31, 2020, the authorized capital stock of Trinity Capital Inc. (the “Company,” “we,” “our,” or “us”) consists of 200,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, and no shares of preferred stock, par value $0.001 per share. On January 26, 2021, our common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “TRIN.”
There are no outstanding options or warrants to purchase our stock. Under Maryland law, our stockholders generally are not personally liable for our debts or obligations. Under our Articles of Amendment and Restatement (the “Charter”), our board of directors (the “Board”) is authorized to classify and reclassify any unissued shares of stock into other classes or series of stock and authorize the issuance of the shares of stock without obtaining stockholder approval. As permitted by the Maryland General Corporation Law (the “MGCL”), our Charter provides that the Board, 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 will have equal rights as to earnings, assets, voting, and distributions and other 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 the Board and declared by us out of funds legally available therefor. The shares of our common stock have no preemptive, exchange, 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 possess exclusive voting power.
Limitation on Liability of Directors and Officers; Indemnification and Advance of Expenses
Maryland law permits a Maryland corporation to include in its charter a provision limiting the liability of its directors and officers to the corporation and its stockholders for money damages except for liability resulting from (a) actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services or (b) active and deliberate dishonesty established by a final judgment as being material to the cause of action. Our Charter contains such a provision which eliminates directors’ and officers’ liability to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, subject to the requirements of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”).
Our Charter authorizes us, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law and subject to the requirements of the 1940 Act, to indemnify any present or former director or officer or any individual who, while serving as our director or officer and at our request, serves or has served another corporation, real estate investment trust, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan or other enterprise as a director, officer, partner or trustee, from and against any claim or liability to which that person may become subject or which that person may incur by reason of his or her service in any such capacity and to pay or reimburse their reasonable expenses in advance of final disposition of a proceeding. Our bylaws (the “Bylaws”) obligate us, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law and subject to the requirements of the 1940 Act, to indemnify any present or former director or officer or any individual who, while serving as our director or officer and at our request, serves or has served another corporation, real estate investment trust, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan or other enterprise as a director, officer, partner or trustee and who is made, or threatened to be made, a party to the proceeding by reason of his or her service in that capacity from and against any claim or liability to which that person may become subject or which that person may incur by reason of his or her service in any such capacity and to pay or reimburse his or her reasonable expenses in advance of final disposition of a proceeding. Our Bylaws also provide that, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, with the approval of the Board and provided that certain conditions described in our Bylaws
are met, we may pay certain expenses incurred by any such indemnified person in advance of the final disposition of a proceeding upon receipt of an undertaking by or on behalf of such indemnified person to repay amounts we have so paid if it is ultimately determined that indemnification of such expenses is not authorized under our Bylaws. In accordance with the 1940 Act, we will not indemnify any person for any liability to which such person would be subject by reason of such person’s willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of his or her office.
Maryland law requires a corporation (unless its charter provides otherwise, which our Charter does not) to indemnify a director or officer who has been successful, on the merits or otherwise, in the defense of any proceeding to which he or she is made, or threatened to be made, a party by reason of his or her service in that capacity. Maryland law permits a corporation to indemnify its present and former directors and officers, among others, against judgments, penalties, fines, settlements and reasonable expenses actually incurred by them in connection with any proceeding to which they may be made, or threatened to be made, a party by reason of their service in those or other capacities unless it is established that (a) the act or omission of the director or officer was material to the matter giving rise to the proceeding and (1) was committed in bad faith or (2) was the result of active and deliberate dishonesty, (b) the director or officer actually received an improper personal benefit in money, property or services or (c) in the case of any criminal proceeding, the director or officer had reasonable cause to believe that the act or omission was unlawful. However, under Maryland law, a Maryland corporation may not indemnify for an adverse judgment in a suit by or in the right of the corporation or for a judgment of liability on the basis that a personal benefit was improperly received unless, in either, case a court orders indemnification, and then only for expenses. In addition, Maryland law permits a corporation to advance reasonable expenses to a director or officer in advance of final disposition of a proceeding upon the corporation’s receipt of (a) a written affirmation by the director or officer of his or her good faith belief that he or she has met the standard of conduct necessary for indemnification by the corporation and (b) a written undertaking by him or her or on his or her behalf to repay the amount paid or reimbursed by the corporation if it is ultimately determined that the standard of conduct was not met.
We have entered into indemnification agreements with our directors and executive officers. The indemnification agreements provide our directors and executive officers the maximum indemnification permitted under Maryland law and the 1940 Act as of the date of such agreements.
Our insurance policy does not currently provide coverage for claims, liabilities and expenses that may arise out of activities that our present or former directors or officers have performed for another entity at our request. There is no assurance that such entities will in fact carry such insurance. However, we note that we do not expect to request our present or former directors or officers to serve another entity as a director, officer, partner or trustee unless we can obtain insurance providing coverage for such persons for any claims, liabilities or expenses that may arise out of their activities while serving in such capacities.
Certain Provisions of the MGCL and Our Charter and Bylaws; Anti-Takeover Measures
The MGCL and our Charter and Bylaws contain provisions that could make it more difficult for a potential acquirer 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 the Board. 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
The Board is divided into three classes of directors serving staggered three-year terms. Directors of each class are elected to serve for three-year terms and until their successors are duly elected and qualify and each year one class of directors is 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 will help to ensure the continuity and stability of our management and policies.
Election of Directors
Our Charter and Bylaws provide that, subject to the special rights of the holders of any class or series of preferred stock to elect directors, each director is elected by a majority of the votes cast with respect to such director’s election, except in the case of a “contested election” (as defined in our Bylaws), in which directors are elected by a plurality of the votes cast in the contested election of directors. There is no cumulative voting in the election of directors. Pursuant to our Charter, the Board 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 by the Board in accordance with our Bylaws. Our Bylaws provide that a majority of our entire Board 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 the minimum number required by the MGCL or greater than eleven. 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 MGCL regarding the filling of vacancies on the Board. Accordingly, at such time, except as may be provided by the Board in setting the terms of any class or series of preferred stock, any and all vacancies on the Board 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 1940 Act.
Our Charter provides that a director may be removed only for cause, as defined in our Charter, and then only by the affirmative vote of at least three-fourths of the votes entitled to be cast in the election of directors.
Action by Stockholders
Under the MGCL, stockholder action can be taken only at an annual or special meeting of stockholders or by unanimous written consent in lieu of a meeting (unless the charter provides for stockholder action by less than unanimous written consent, which our Charter does not). 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 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 or (3) by a stockholder 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 at a special meeting may be made only (1) pursuant to our notice of the meeting, (2) by the Board or (3) provided that the Board has determined that directors will be elected at the meeting, by a stockholder 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 the Board 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 the Board, 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 the Board 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 the Board 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, 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 75% or more of our continuing directors (in addition to approval by the Board), 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 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.
Our Charter and Bylaws provide that the Board will have the exclusive power to adopt, alter, amend or repeal any provision of our Bylaws and to make new Bylaws.
No Appraisal Rights
Except with respect to appraisal rights arising in connection with the Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act discussed below, as permitted by the MGCL, our Charter provides that stockholders will not be entitled to exercise appraisal rights unless a majority of the Board determines such rights apply.
Control Share Acquisitions
The MGCL 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 vote of two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter (the “Control Share Acquisition 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 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 acquirer 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 acquirer 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 acquirer in the control share acquisition.
The Control Share Acquisition 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 Acquisition Act any and all acquisitions by any person of our shares of stock. We can offer 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 Acquisition Act only if the Board determines that it would be in our best interests, including in light of the Board’s fiduciary obligations, applicable federal and state laws, and the particular facts and circumstances surrounding the Board’s decision.
Under Maryland law, “business combinations” between a 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 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 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 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. The Board 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, 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, the Board will adopt resolutions so as to make us subject to the provisions of the Business Combination Act only if the Board determines that it would be in our best interests and if the Securities and Exchange Commission (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 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 the 1940 Act
Our Bylaws provide that, if and to the extent that any provision of the MGCL, including the Control Share Acquisition 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.
Our Bylaws require that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City (or, if that Court does not have jurisdiction, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division) shall be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of any standard of conduct or legal duty owed by any of the Company’s director, officer or other agent to the Company or to its stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the MGCL or the Charter or the Bylaws (as either may be amended from time to time), or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This exclusive forum selection provision in our Bylaws does not apply to claims arising under the federal securities laws, including the Securities Act and the Exchange Act.
There is uncertainty as to whether a court would enforce such a provision, and investors cannot waive compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. In addition, this provision may increase costs for stockholders in bringing a claim against us or our directors, officers or other agents. Any investor purchasing or otherwise acquiring our shares is deemed to have notice of and consented to the foregoing provision.
The exclusive forum selection provision in our Bylaws may limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other agents, which may discourage lawsuits against us and such persons. It is also possible that, notwithstanding such exclusive forum selection provision, a court could rule that such provision is inapplicable or unenforceable.
The shares of our common stock issued and sold in the Private Common Stock Offering and issued in connection with the Formation Transactions have not been registered under the Securities Act or the securities laws of any jurisdiction and, accordingly, until registered, may not be resold or transferred except as permitted under the Securities Act and the applicable securities laws of any jurisdiction. Under the Common Stock Registration Rights Agreement and subject to certain conditions, we have agreed, if permitted by law, to use our commercially reasonable efforts to file a registration statement with respect to the resale of the shares of our common stock issued and sold in the Private Common Stock Offering and issued in connection with the Formation Transactions, except for such shares sold or issued to our directors, officers and affiliates in connection therewith, as soon as reasonably practicable (but in no event later than May 15, 2020).
Under the Common Stock Registration Rights Agreement, we have also agreed to use our commercially reasonable efforts to cause such registration statement for the resale of the shares of our common stock issued and sold in the Private Common Stock Offering and issued in connection with the Formation Transactions, except for such shares sold or issued to our directors, officers and affiliates in connection therewith, to become effective under the Securities Act as soon as practicable after its filing and to have such shares of our common stock listed on a national securities exchange as soon as practicable, and in any event, subject to certain exceptions, no later than December 31, 2021, and to maintain its continuous effectiveness under the Securities Act, subject to certain permitted blackout periods, for the period described in the Common Stock Registration Rights Agreement. Nevertheless, we can offer no assurances that we will file or that the SEC will ever declare such registration statement effective.