El otro blog para cosas más serias

El otro blog para cosas más serias
El otro blog para cosas más serias

sábado, 9 de abril de 2011

El socio, administrador y prestamista: deber de lealtad hacia la sociedad

Es una sentencia de Posner. Se trata de una acción social de responsabilidad interpuesta por el administrador concursal contra los consejeros que representaban a los inversores. Los inversores, que ostentaban acciones preferentes, financiaron posteriormente a la empresa mediante “créditos-puente”. Y las condiciones del segundo eran tan favorables al prestamista, que dejaban sin valor alguno a las acciones ordinarias. Posner hace una disquisición entre revelar la existencia de un conflicto de interés e infringir el deber de lealtad del administrador. Lo primero no excusa lo segundo. En una terminología más próxima a nosotros, diríamos que, para que una transacción vinculada sea válida, no basta solo con que los administradores conflictuados (por estar en los dos lados de la transacción, en el lado del prestatario – la sociedad de la que son consejeros – y en el lado del prestamista – los inversores - ) revelen la existencia de un conflicto. Con ello han cumplido con su deber de transparencia. Además, la transacción ha de haberse realizado como si fueran partes independientes (el prestamista y el prestatario) por lo que la voluntad de la sociedad respecto a aceptar los términos del préstamo debería haberse formado sin influencia alguna de los consejeros conflictuados. Por último, las condiciones han de ser equitativas. Y dice la sentencia:
 
It was after the dot-com bubble burst, and only a few months before Cadant was sold to the Arris Group for $55 million, that a similar company, River Delta, was sold for $300 million. Cadant couldn’t hold out for a comparable deal because of the terms of the bridge loans. If the plaintiff’s evidence is credited, Copeland, in cahoots with an employee of J.P. Morgan named Charles Walker (a defendant), used information gleaned from meetings of Cadant’s board to reveal to J.P. Morgan and through it to Venrock that Cadant would accept a smaller bridge loan, and for a shorter term, than Venrock and J.P. Morgan would have expected the board to insist on. Walker himself joined Cadant’s board soon after the first bridge loan was made, as did another J.P. Morgan employee (Stephan Oppenheimer), who is also a defendant. There is evidence that Copeland, Walker, and Oppenheimer conspired to ensure that Cadant would accept the second bridge loan, which added to the disadvantages to Cadant of the first loan by creating a generous liquidation preference; as mentioned earlier, in the event of a sale or liquidation of Cadant, Venrock and J.P. Morgan would be entitled to be paid twice the amount of their investment in the company, to the prejudice of the common shareholders Uncontaminated by disloyal directors, so far as appears, River Delta, in adverse economic conditions similar to those alleged to have beset Cadant, nevertheless was sold for more than five times what Cadant was sold for a few months later… The accusation is that the directors were disloyal. They persuaded the district judge that disclosure of a conflict of interest excuses a breach of fiduciary duty. It does not. It just excuses the conflict. To have a conflict and to be motivated by it to breach a duty of loyalty are two different things—the first a factor increasing the likelihood of a wrong, the second the wrong itself…. A director may tell his fellow directors that he has a conflict of interest but that he will not allow it to influence his actions as director; he will not tell them he plans to screw them. If having been informed of the conflict the disinterested directors decide to continue to trust and rely on the interested ones, it is because they think that despite the conflict of interest those directors will continue to serve the corporation loyally. Benihana of Tokyo, Inc. v. Benihana, Inc., 906 A.2d 114 (Del. 2006), a derivative suit much like this one, provides an illuminating contrast to this case. A director was interested but his interest was known to the board. Having settled that point, the court went on to consider whether he had breached his fiduciary duty to the corporation, and concluded that he had not. He “did not set the terms of the [challenged] deal; he did not deceive the board; and he did not dominate or control the other directors’ approval of the Transaction. In short, the record does not support the claim that [he] breached his duty of loyalty.”

Y concluye que las empresas financieras Venrock y J.P. Morgan eran responsables de lo hecho por sus empleados como consejeros de Cadant como cooperadores necesarios.

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