Mergers & Acquisitions


The market for corporate control has been a vibrant element of Anglo-American capitalism for well over a century, and acquisitions have become increasingly prevalent in other economies around the world. Although mergers often have beneficial aspects—for example, the threat of an acquisition may have a disciplining effect on underperforming executives—they also often pose a number of problems for shareholders and broader society alike. The goal of this course is to provide students with a layered understanding of M&A, which connects the details of contract design and black letter law with contemporary policy debates. The student thus will not only be prepared for the immediate demands of a transactional practice but also have a conceptual foundation for the development of expertise over time.

The M&A class also provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore institutional design issues. In the United States, a number of federal and state laws combine to form a constellation of complementary institutions regulating the market for corporate control. The M&A lawyer’s prowess is found in her ability to master the core aspects of each part of that constellation, both when structuring a transaction and when disputes arise.

There are technically no pre-requisites for the class. However, it will be very challenging to do well in the course without first having taken the introductory Business Organizations class.


Daily readings will typically involve a selection from Hill, Quinn & Davidoff Solomon, Mergers and Acquisitions: Law, Theory, and Practice (2d ed.) ("HQS") and a collection of key cases, statutory provisions, deal materials, and/or academic/practitioner commentary. If you're looking for a concise treatment of the topics we cover in class, then Bainbridge's short treatise is highly recommended, although by no means required for the class. From time to time, we will read other materials, and they are made available below. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | Introduction to M&A - No reading assignment

Friday, September 1, 6, and 8, 2023 | Deal Structures - HQS Chapter 2, pp. 31-60

Friday, September 8, 2023 | Extra Class: Introduction to Corporate Governance - See reading assignment below

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 | Accounting and Valuation - HQS Chapters 9 and 10

Friday, September 15, 2023 | Accounting and Valuation - HQS Chapters 9 and 10

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | Designing an M&A Transaction - HQS Chapters 12 and 13

Friday, September 22, 2023 | Designing an M&A Transaction - HQS Chapter 14

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Designing an M&A Transaction - HQS Chapter 14

Friday, September 29, 2023| Designing an M&A Transaction - HQS Chapter 14

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Designing an M&A Transaction - HQS Chapter 14

Friday, October 13, 2023 | Federal Securities Regulation Relevant to M&A  - HQS Chapters 4 and 5

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 | Resisting the Hostile Offer - HQS Chapter 15

Friday, October 20, 2023 | Adopting Defensive Measures - HQS Chapter 16

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 | Adopting Defensive Measures - HQS Chapter 16 and additional reading assigned below

Friday, October 27, 2023 | Adopting Defensive Measures - HQS Chapter 16 and additional reading assigned below

Wednesday, November 1, 2023  | Fiduciary Duties When Selling the Corporation - HQS Chapter 18

Friday, November 3, 2023 | Fiduciary Duties When Selling the Corporation - HQS Chapter 18

Wednesday, November 6, 2023 | Material Adverse Effect Disputes -- see reading assignments below

Friday, November 8, 2023 | Material Adverse Effect Disputes -- see reading assignments below

Wednesday, November 15 and Friday, November 17, 2023 | Freezeouts - HQS Chapter 19 (until page 724)

Friday, November 17, 2023 | Freezeouts - HQS Chapter 19 (until page 724)

Monday, November 20, 2023 (4:00pm) | Interim Review Session

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Deal Protections - HQS Chapter 16 (pp. 553-569)

Friday, December 1, 2023 | The Antitrust Review of Mergers - HQS Chapter 8

Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Merger Review Simulation - See daily class detail below for reading assignments

Friday, December 8, 2023 | Merger Review Simulation - See daily class detail below for reading assignments

Monday, December 11, 2023 (3:00pm) | End of Semester Review Session

Useful Resources

Because the M&A market is so systemically important, there is a lot of media coverage and commentary relating to it. Some resources that I think are useful for getting one's head around the market and following recent developments are as follows:

SEC's EDGAR Database

NY Times Dealbook

Matt Levine's Money Stuff Newsletter at Bloomberg

Columbia's Blue Sky Blog

Harvard's Corporate Governance Forum

Pitchbook (via BYU account)

Delaware General Corporation Law

Daily Class Details and Materials

This section contains materials, both required and supplemental, for each day we meet in the course. 

August 30, 2023 | Introduction to the M&A Market

Today's class is a high-level introduction to the issues and areas of law we will investigate over the semester. Key questions include: Why do companies do M&A deals? How are M&A deals done? What are the problems that arise from M&A deals, and how does the law address those problems? 

Required Reading: N/A

Slide Deck: Introduction to M&A

Class recording: August 30, 2023 Class

Supplemental Reading:

September 6 and 8, 2023 | Basics of Deal Structure

Today's class introduces us to the basic ways to structure a deal and explores some of the key legal implications behind that choice. We also work through the rather complicated transaction structure found in Capital Product's spin off of some of its tanker fleet.

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 2

Slide Deck: Deal Structure Basics

Class recording: 

Supplemental Reading:

September 8, 2023 | Introduction to Corporate Governance (Extra Class)

This is an introductory course to the key players, institutions, and fiduciary duty doctrines in U.S. corporate governance. It is designed as a review for those who don't have the Business Organizations class material fresh in their mind, or as an introduction for those who have not yet taken Business Orgs.

Slide Deck: Introduction to Fiduciary Duties

Class Recording: September 8, 2023

Required Reading:

September 13 and 15, 2023 | Basics of Valuation

These  classes introduce basic accounting concepts that are frequently used in the valuation of companies, and we begin exploring common valuation methods. While a more complete treatment of these ideas is provided in a corporate finance class, we briefly cover them here because valuation issues are typically at the heart of M&A shareholder litigation and other disputes that arise in deals. We will also briefly discuss the role of investment bankers in the acquisition process.

Required Reading: HQS Chapters 9 and 10

Slides: Valuation Basics

Class recordings: 

Supplemental Reading:

September 20, 2023 | Designing an M&A Transaction: Preliminary Agreements

We begin our deep dive into the design of M&A agreements with an overview of important considerations in a sale process, and then we study the role preliminary agreements (such as NDAs and LOIs) play in that process. 

Required Reading: HQS Chapters 12 and 13

Slides: Designing M&A Agreements Part I

Class Recordings: September 20

Supplemental Materials:

September 22, 2023 | Designing an M&A Transaction: Architecture and Contingent Consideration 

We now turn to understanding the key parts of the central contract in an M&A deal: The acquisition agreement. Our first day on this topic will focus on understanding the architecture of a merger agreement and how consideration is often designed.

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 14

Slides: Designing M&A Agreements Part II

Class Recordings: September 22 

Supplemental Materials:

September 27, 2023 | Designing a Merger Agreement: Representations & Warranties and Covenants

Now we focus on the long list of representations made in the merger agreement and the covenants that address pre-closing risk. Special attention is paid to the material adverse effect representation and definition, and how it interacts with other parts of the merger agreement.

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 14

Slides: Designing M&A Agreements Part III

Class recording: September 27

Supplemental Materials:

September 29 and October 11, 2023 | Designing the Merger Agreement: Closing Conditions and Termination Provisions

We conclude our review of the modern merger agreement with a discussion of closing conditions, including their connections to other provisions of the contract and their role in risk allocation, and termination provisions, including their various triggers and fee structures. 

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 14

Slides: Designing M&A Agreements Part IV

Class recordings:  September 29 and October 11

Supplemental Materials:

October 13, 2023 | Federal Securities Regulation in M&A: Schedule 13D and Preparing a Tender Offer

In this class we shift gears and explore an alternative method for accomplishing a transaction -- the tender offer -- with a particular focus on the federal securities regulations that apply. This discussion takes us through the requirements for making a tender offer and, of particular significance to later parts of the course, the role Schedule 13D plays in the strategy of hostile takeovers and defense measures.

Required Reading: HQS Chapters 4 and 5

Slides: Fed Sec Reg of M&A

Class recording: October 13

Supplemental Materials:

October 18 and 20, 2023 | Defending the Corporation Against a Hostile Bid

In today's class, we explore the ways that a corporation can protect itself from hostile takeovers. This is, among other things, a lesson in legal innovation in the M&A market. The threat of corporate raiders in the 1970s and 1980s spawned a number of innovations, both contractual and organizational.

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 15

Slides: Hostile Takeovers

Class recording: 

Supplemental Materials:

October 25, 27 and November 1, 2023 | Fiduciary Duty Considerations for Boards Adopting Takeover Defenses

This part of the course builds upon our previous discussion of the mechanisms parties can use to defend against a hostile takeover. We now ask what limitations Delaware corporate law places upon boards adopting takeover defenses. The discussion begins with foundational cases, such as Cheff v. Mathes, Unocal, and Moran, and then takes us to the more recent Air Products v. Airgas and In re Williams decisions. We will learn that, while not entirely uninhibited, target boards have substantial leeway to adopt potent defensive measures.

Required Reading: 

Slides: Activist Stockholders

Class recordings: 

November 3, 2023 | Fiduciary Duties of Boards When Selling the Corporation

We shift gears in today's class from a defensive posture to a board that has decided to sell the company. Focus will be on the classic Revlon and Smith v. Van Gorkum cases (which is covered in another chapter of the casebook -- I'll provide a summary on the safe assumption that your business organizations class taught you the case). The key questions will be: (1) when are Revlon duties triggered; and (2) what do those duties entail?

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 18

Slides: Selling the Corporation

Class recording: November 3

Supplemental Materials:

November 8 and 10, 2023 | Resolving MAE Disputes

In today's class, we dive into the details of MAC/MAE litigation with a close read of the Hexion v. Huntsman case and an in-class review of the recent Akorn v. Fresenius and AB Stable cases.

Required Reading: 

Slides: MAE Litigation

Class recording: 

Supplemental Reading:

November 15 and 17, 2023 | Freezeouts

Today we review "freeze-out" transactions, the entire fairness standard, the harmonized treatment of mergers and tender offers in this area, and the role of procedural formalisms that may "cleanse" a deal sufficiently for business judgment deference to apply.

Required Reading: HQS Chapter 19 (until page 724)

Slides: Freezeouts

Class recording: 

Supplemental Materials:

November 20, 2023 | Interim Review Session

Review Session recording: November 20

November 29, 2023 | Deal Protections

In today's class, we review the different deals protections that parties may use to ensure the likelihood of closing, and we then consider Delaware precedents, such as Brazen and Omnicare, that apply to the use of deal protections.

Reading Assignment: HQS Chapter 16 (pp. 553-569)

Slides: Deal Protections

Class recording: November 29, 2023

December 1, 2023 | Regulatory Review of M&A Transactions

For the remainder of the course, we shift gears from Delaware corporate law and federal securities law to the various regulatory regimes that guide and constrain M&A activity. The primary regime upon which we will be focusing is antitrust law, particularly the notification process established by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and the substantive review of mergers under Clayton Act Section 7. Attention is also paid to multi-jurisdictional merger review, with the European Union's competition law as the primary subject. We will not confine our focus entirely to antitrust law, however. National security review (CFIUS, in the United States) is growing increasingly important, for instance.

In today's class, we will be undertaking a wide-ranging review of the U.S. antitrust system applicable to M&A activity. This discussion will set the stage for deeper dives into key issues, and for a simulation exercise later in the course.

Required Reading: 

Slides: Introduction to Merger Review

Class recording: December 1, 2023

Supplemental Materials:

December 6 and 8, 2023 | Merger Review Simulation

It isn't possible to replicate an entire antitrust class in a few class periods of this M&A course. As an alternative for building students' intuitions on the issues and analysis involved in merger review, we will work on a simulation exercise that unfolds over two class periods. One the first day, we will undertake a reportability analysis and substantive risk assessment, and on the second day we will negotiate the antitrust risk shifting provisions in the merger agreement.

The simulation involves a potential merger of two global mining companies. Mining is selected because the relevant product markets are fairly easy to understand, rough market shares can be calculated based on publicly available materials, and discrete divestiture remedies can typically be identified. And, of course, doing mining deals is the stuff of dreams.

Slides: CFIUS

Class recordings: December 8, 2023

Required Materials (you do not have to review these closely before class -- just briefly familiarize yourself with their contents):

Supplemental Materials:

December 11, 2023 | Review Session

Recording: December 11

Assessment and Exam Materials

90% of students' final grades will be determined by a final exam. The remaining 10% of students' grades will be determined by participation during guest lectures. 

The exam for the class will be administered as an electronic take-home exam. The standard time limit for the exam is three hours. The exam will be available at 8:00am (Mountain) on the first day of the exam period and will close at 10:00pm (Mountain) on the last day of the exam period. Further details on the 2023 exam will be sent to the class via email. For reference, the 2022, 2021, 2019 and 2017 exams are available below.

2022 Exam

2021 Exam

2019 Exam

2017 Exam