Delaware courts frequently are called upon to determine the “fair value” of a company’s stock. For a company whose capital structure includes preferred stock with a liquidation preference, there is the question of how to treat that liquidation preference when determining the per-share “fair value” of the common, the preferred, or some other specific class of the company’s stock.
Two recent Delaware Court of Chancery decisions by Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. demonstrate that the answer depends on whether the liquidation preference actually has been triggered (or otherwise represents a non-speculative payment obligation), or whether the payout of the liquidation preference is a matter of speculation. Importantly, that determination depends on the specific rights defining the liquidation preference, as set forth in the charter or certificate of designations, and does not necessarily depend on “market realities” that might suggest a discount for common stock relative to the preferred.
A very helpful analysis of the issue.