Washington Law Review
Toward Transaction-Specific Standards of Directorial Fiduciary Duty in the Tracking-Stock Context
In recent years, diversified corporations have increasingly turned to tracking stocks to uncouple high-growth businesses, especially Internet-related operations, from more static business entities. Tracking stock is a unique type of common stock that represents an interest in the financial performance of particular business groups within a diversified parent corporation. However, the tracked business groups are not independent of the parent corporation, and the parent's board of directors still governs the affairs of each business group. This creates unique conflicts for directors who must please multiple groups of stockholders whose interests are not always consistent. Delaware courts have not announced a clear standard for dealing with directorial duties in the tracking-stock context. The three existing legal standards of corporate governance—the traditional fiduciary analysis, a contractual approach, and an entire-fairness evaluation—are individually inadequate when applied to the unique directorial conflicts arising in corporations with tracking stock. This Comment argues that Delaware courts should apply different standards of review to directorial decisions involving tracked business groups depending upon the nature of the transaction. Where the directorial decision involves primarily contractual arrangements, such as the repurchase of stock or the payment of dividends, courts should not grant tracking stockholders fiduciary protections. If the decision involves the allocation of corporate opportunity or resources, courts should apply the fiduciary principles of care and loyalty, ensuring that directors do not have a material self-interest in the transaction. Finally, if the directorial decision involves inter-group dealings, courts should require directors to demonstrate the entire fairness of the transaction regardless of whether the board was interested in the transaction.
Jeffrey J. Schick,
Notes and Comments,
Toward Transaction-Specific Standards of Directorial Fiduciary Duty in the Tracking-Stock Context,
75 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol75/iss4/9