Dichiarato nullo l’accordo per il compenso di Musk in Tesla e il conseguente acquisto di quote

La Court of Chancery del Delaware 30.01.2024 , Tornetta v. Musk ed altri, C.A. No. 2018-0408-KSJM, dichiara nullo (rescission) l’accordo 2018 sul compenso di Musk  perchè eccessivo : o meglio M. non ha provato che era fair: <Defendants bore the burden of proving fair price. Given the conflicting testimony concerning the projections, Defendants failed to prove the factual predicate for their argument that all the milestones were “ambitious” and difficult to achieve. This argument does not support a finding of fair price>, p. 187.

Irrilevante il consenso degli azionisti, non essendo stati adeguatamente informati: <<Defendants argue that disinterested stockholder approval is “compelling evidence” that the price was fair.899 The stockholder vote is one component of the fair price analysis, but whether the vote represents a form of market evidence that can support a certain price depends on the sufficiency of the disclosure. Generally, a stockholder vote is only “compelling evidence” of fairness absent a disclosure violation.900 The Delaware Supreme Court in Weinberger held that an uninformed stockholder vote is totally “meaningless.”901 Under Weinberger, therefore, the stockholder vote is a meaningless indicator as to fair price. In SolarCity III, the high court took a more nuanced approach, affording a stockholder vote some weight despite a deficient proxy statement where the key issue was SolarCity’s value. The high court noted that there was significant public information available concerning that issue, “SolarCity traded in an efficient market,” and a strong independent fiduciary positively affected the process.902 Defendants did not establish those facts here.   Because the stockholder vote was not fully informed, it does not support a finding of fair price“, p. 190-191.

Rigettata l’eccezione di -in sostanza- arricchimento senza causa: le azioni già detenute son più che sufficienti. “Defendants argue that rescission is a harsh consequence that would leave Musk uncompensated. But Musk’s preexisting equity stake provided him tens of billions of dollars for his efforts. And Defendants have not offered a viable alternative short of leaving the Grant intact

Il punto più interessante è quello degli aspetti pratici di corporate governance e cioè della supremazia di Musk nel Board: nessuno ha seriamente negoziato il compenso da vera controparte, limitandosi invece a supinamente ratificarlo. V. il § “2.Boardroom And Managerial Supremacy” a p. . 115 ss.

Ad es. <<Based on this list alone, it could be said that Musk wields unusually expansive managerial authority, equaling or even exceeding the imperial CEOs of the 1960s>>, p. 121 (v. il rif. ai SuperstarCEOs p. 121 ss).

Oppure: <<The references to “supine servants” and “an overweening master” is hyperbolic, and no doubt deliberately so to give emphasis to the difficulty of the standard. But it hits home here. There is no greater evidence of Musk’s status as a transaction-specific controller than the Board’s posture toward Musk during the process that led to the Grant. Put simply, neither the Compensation Committee nor the Board acted in the best interests of the Company when negotiating Musk’s compensation plan. In fact, there is barely any evidence of negotiations at all. Rather than negotiate against Musk with the mindset of a third party, the Compensation Committee worked alongside him, almost as an advisory body.   Multiple aspects of the process reveal Musk’s control over it, including the timeline, the absence of negotiations over the magnitude of the Grant or its other terms, and the committee’s failure to conduct a benchmarking analysis. In the end, the key witnesses said it all by effectively admitting that they did not view the process as an arm’s length negotiation>>, 128-129.