MANSFIELD, Circuit Judge:
Hanson Trust PLC, HSCM Industries, Inc., and Hanson Holdings Netherlands B.V. (hereinafter sometimes referred to collectively as "Hanson") appeal from an order of the Southern District of New York, 617 F.Supp. 832 (1985), Shirley Wohl Kram, Judge, granting SCM Corporation's motion for a preliminary injunction restraining them, their officers, agents, employees and any persons acting in concert with them, from acquiring any shares of SCM and from exercising any voting rights with respect to 3.1 million SCM shares acquired by them on September 11, 1985. The injunction was granted on the ground that Hanson's September 11 acquisition of the SCM stock through five private and one open market purchases amounted to a "tender offer" for more than 5% of SCM's outstanding shares, which violated §§ 14(d)(1) and (6) of the Williams Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78n(d)(1) and (6)
The setting is the familiar one of a fast-moving bidding contest for control of a large public corporation: first, a cash
SCM is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York City. Its shares, of which at all relevant times at least 9.9 million were outstanding and 2.3 million were subject to issuance upon conversion of other outstanding securities, are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Pacific Stock Exchange. Hanson Trust PLC is an English company with its principal place of business in London. HSCM, a Delaware corporation, and Hanson Holdings Netherlands B.V., a Netherlands limited liability company, are indirect wholly-owned subsidiaries of Hanson Trust PLC.
On August 21, 1985, Hanson publicly announced its intention to make a cash tender offer of $60 per share for any and all outstanding SCM shares. Five days later it filed the tender offer documents required by § 14(d)(1) of the Williams Act and regulations issued thereunder. The offer provided that it would remain open until September 23, unless extended, that no shares would be accepted until September 10, and that
On August 30, 1985, SCM, having recommended to SCM's stockholders that they not accept Hanson's tender offer, announced a preliminary agreement with Merrill under which a new entity, formed by SCM and Merrill, would acquire all SCM shares at $70 per share in a leveraged buyout sponsored by Merrill. Under the agreement, which was executed on September 3, the new entity would make a $70 per share cash tender offer for approximately 85% of SCM's shares. If more than two-thirds of SCM's shares were acquired under the offer the remaining SCM shares would be acquired in exchange for debentures in a new corporation to be formed as a result of the merger. On the same date, September 3, Hanson increased its tender offer from $60 to $72 cash per share. However, it expressly reserved the right to terminate its offer if SCM granted to anyone any option to purchase SCM assets on terms that Hanson believed to constitute a "lock-up" device. Supplement Dated September 5, 1985, to Offer to Purchase, at 4.
The next development in the escalating bidding contest for control of SCM occurred
Hanson, faced with what it considered to be a "poison pill," concluded that even if it increased its cash tender offer to $74 per share it would end up with control of a substantially depleted and damaged company. Accordingly, it announced on the Dow Jones Broad Tape at 12:38 P.M. on September 11 that it was terminating its cash tender offer. A few minutes later, Hanson issued a press release, carried on the Broad Tape, to the effect that "all SCM shares tendered will be promptly returned to the tendering shareholders."
At some time in the late forenoon or early afternoon of September 11 Hanson decided to make cash purchases of a substantial percentage of SCM stock in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. Under British law Hanson could not acquire more than 49% of SCM's shares in this fashion without obtaining certain clearances, but acquisition of such a large percentage was not necessary to stymie the SCM-Merrill merger proposal. If Hanson could acquire slightly less than one-third of SCM's outstanding shares it would be able to block the $74 per share SCM-Merrill offer of a leveraged buyout. This might induce the latter to work out an agreement with Hanson, something Hanson had unsuccessfully sought on several occasions since its first cash tender offer.
Within a period of two hours on the afternoon of September 11 Hanson made five privately-negotiated cash purchases of SCM stock and one open-market purchase, acquiring 3.1 million shares or 25% of SCM's outstanding stock. The price of SCM stock on the NYSE on September 11 ranged from a high of $73.50 per share to a low of $72.50 per share. Hanson's initial private purchase, 387,700 shares from Mutual Shares, was not solicited by Hanson but by a Mutual Shares official, Michael Price, who, in a conversation with Robert Pirie of Rothschild, Inc., Hanson's financial advisor, on the morning of September 11 (before Hanson had decided to make any private cash purchases), had stated that he was interested in selling Mutual's Shares' SCM stock to Hanson. Once Hanson's decision to buy privately had been made, Pirie took Price up on his offer. The parties negotiated a sale at $73.50 per share after Pirie refused Price's asking prices, first of $75 per share and, later, of $74.50 per share. This transaction, but not the identity of the parties, was automatically reported pursuant to NYSE rules on the NYSE ticker at 3:11 P.M. and reported on the Dow Jones Broad Tape at 3:29 P.M.
Pirie then telephoned Ivan Boesky, an arbitrageur who had a few weeks earlier disclosed in a Schedule 13D statement filed with the SEC
Following the NYSE ticker and Broad Tape reports of the first two large anonymous transactions in SCM stock, some professional investors surmised that the buyer might be Hanson. Rothschild then received telephone calls from (1) Mr. Mulhearn of Jamie & Co. offering to sell between 200,000 and 350,000 shares at $73.50 per share, (2) David Gottesman, an arbitrageur at Oppenheimer & Co. offering 89,000 shares at $73.50, and (3) Boyd Jeffries of Jeffries & Co., offering approximately 700,000 to 800,000 shares at $74.00. Pirie purchased the three blocks for Hanson at $73.50 per share. The last of Hanson's cash purchases was completed by 4:35 P.M. on September 11, 1985.
In the early evening of September 11 SCM successfully applied to Judge Kram in the present lawsuit for a restraining order barring Hanson from acquiring more SCM stock for 24 hours. On September 12 and 13 the TRO was extended by consent pending the district court's decision on SCM's application for a preliminary injunction. Judge Kram held an evidentiary hearing on September 12-13, at which various witnesses testified, including Sir Gordon White, Hanson's United States Chairman, two Rothschild representatives (Pirie and Gerald Goldsmith) and stock market risk-arbitrage professionals (Robert Freeman of Goldman, Sachs & Co., Kenneth Miller of Merrill Lynch, and Danial Burch of D.F. King & Co.). Sir Gordon White testified that on September 11, 1985, after learning of the $74 per share SCM-Merrill leveraged buyout tender offer with its "crown jewel" irrevocable "lock-up" option to Merrill, he instructed Pirie to terminate Hanson's $72 per share tender offer, and that only thereafter did he discuss the possibility of Hanson making market purchases of SCM stock. Pirie testified that the question of buying stock may have been discussed in the late forenoon of September 11 and that he had told White that he was having Hanson's New York counsel look into whether
SCM argued before Judge Kram (and argues here) that Hanson's cash purchases immediately following its termination of its $72 per share tender offer amounted to a de facto continuation of Hanson's tender offer, designed to avoid the strictures of § 14(d) of the Williams Act, and that unless a preliminary injunction issued SCM and its shareholders would be irreparably injured because Hanson would acquire enough shares to defeat the SCM-Merrill offer. Judge Kram found that the relevant underlying facts (which we have outlined) were not in dispute, Memorandum Opinion and Order, at 6 (Sept. 14, 1985), and concluded that "[w]ithout deciding what test should ultimately be applied to determine whether Hanson's conduct constitutes a `tender offer' within the meaning of the Williams Act ... SCM has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its contention that Hanson has engaged in a tender offer which violates Section 14(d) of the Williams Act." Id. at 7. The district court, characterizing Hanson's stock purchases as "a deliberate attempt to do an `end run' around the requirements of the Williams Act," id. at 8, made no finding on the question of whether Hanson had decided to make the purchases of SCM before or after it dropped its tender offer but concluded that even if the decision had been made after it terminated its offer preliminary injunctive relief should issue. From this decision Hanson appeals.
A preliminary injunction will be overturned only when the district court abuses its discretion. See Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 931-32, 95 S.Ct. 2561, 2567-68, 45 L.Ed.2d 648 (1975); Application of U.S. In Matter of Order Authorizing the Use of a Pen Register, 538 F.2d 956, 961 (2d Cir.1976) (All-Writs Act), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. United States v. New York Telephone Co., 434 U.S. 159, 98 S.Ct. 364, 54 L.Ed.2d 376 (1977). An abuse of discretion may be found when the district court relies on clearly erroneous findings of fact or on an error of law in issuing the injunction. See Coca-Cola Co. v. Tropicana Products, Inc., 690 F.2d 312, 315-16 (2d Cir.1982); cf. Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, ___ U.S. ___, 105 S.Ct. 1504, 84 L.Ed.2d 518 (1985).
Since, as the district court correctly noted, the material relevant facts in the present case are not in dispute, this appeal turns on whether the district court erred as a matter of law in holding that when Hanson terminated its offer and immediately thereafter made private purchases of a substantial share of the target company's outstanding stock, the purchases became a "tender offer" within the meaning of § 14(d) of the Williams Act. Absent any express definition of "tender offer" in the Act, the answer requires a brief review of the background and purposes of § 14(d).
Congress adopted § 14(d) in 1968 "in response to the growing use of cash tender offers as a means of achieving corporate takeovers ... which ... removed a substantial number of corporate control contests from the reach of existing disclosure requirements of the federal securities laws." Piper v. Chris-Craft Industries, 430 U.S. 1, 22, 97 S.Ct. 926, 939, 51 L.Ed.2d 124 (1977). See also S.Rep. No. 550, 90th Cong., 1st Sess., 2-4 (1967) (Senate Report); H.R.Rep. No. 1711, 90th Cong., 2d Sess., 2-4 (1968) (House Report) U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1968, 2811; 114 Cong.Rec. 21483-21484 (July 15, 1968) (Comments of Representatives Springer and Whalen); 113 Cong.Rec. 854-855 (Jan. 18, 1967) (Comments of Senator Williams); id. at 24664 (Aug. 30, 1967) (Comments of Senator Williams); id. at 24666 (Comments of Senator Javits).
The typical tender offer, as described in the Congressional debates, hearings and reports on the Williams Act, consisted of a general, publicized bid by an individual or group to buy shares of a publicly-owned company, the shares of which were traded on a national securities exchange, at a price substantially above the current market
Prior to the Williams Act a tender offeror had no obligation to disclose any information to shareholders when making a bid. The Report of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency aptly described the situation: "by using a cash tender offer the person seeking control can operate in almost complete secrecy. At present, the law does not even require that he disclose his identity, the source of his funds, who his associates are, or what he intends to do if he gains control of the corporation." Senate Report, supra, at 2. See also House Report, supra, at 2, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1968, at 2812. The average shareholder, pressured by the fact that the tender offer would be available for only a short time and restricted to a limited number of shares, was forced "with severely limited information, [to] decide what course of action he should take." Id. at 2, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1968, at 2812. "Without knowledge of who the bidder is and what he plans to do, the shareholder cannot reach an informed decision. He is forced to take a chance. For no matter what he does, he does it without adequate information to enable him to decide rationally what is the best possible course of action." Id. at 2, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1968, at 2812; Senate Report, supra, at 2.
The purpose of the Williams Act was, accordingly, to protect the shareholders from that dilemma by insuring "that public shareholders who are confronted by a cash tender offer for their stock will not be required to respond without adequate information." Piper v. Chris-Craft Industries, 430 U.S. 1, 35, 97 S.Ct. 926, 946, 51 L.Ed.2d 124 (1977); Rondeau v. Mosinee Paper Corp., 422 U.S. 49, 58, 95 S.Ct. 2069, 2075, 45 L.Ed.2d 12 (1975).
Congress took "extreme care," 113 Cong.Rec. 24664 (Senator Williams); id. at 854 (Senator Williams), however, when protecting shareholders, to avoid "tipping the balance of regulation either in favor of management or in favor of the person making the takeover bid." House Report, supra, at 4, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1968, at 2813; Senator Report, supra, at 4. Indeed, the initial draft of the bill, proposed in 1965, had been designed to prevent "proud old companies [from being] reduced to corporate shells after white-collar pirates have seized control," 111 Cong.Rec. 28257 (Oct. 22, 1965) (Senator Williams). Williams withdrew that draft following claims that it was too biased in favor of incumbent management. Tyson & August, "The Williams Act After RICO: Has the Balance Tipped in Favor of Incumbent Management?" 33 Hastings L.J. 53, 61 (1983). In the end, Congress considered it crucial that the act be neutral and place "`investors on an equal footing with the takeover bidder' ... without favoring either the tender offeror or existing management." Piper, supra, 430 U.S. at 30, 97 S.Ct. at 943 (quoting Senate Report, supra, at 4). See also Rondeau, supra, 422 U.S. at 58 n. 8, 95 S.Ct. at 2076 n. 8; Edgar v. MITE Corp., 457 U.S. 624, 633, 102 S.Ct. 2629, 2636, 73 L.Ed.2d 269 (1982).
Congress finally settled upon a statute requiring a tender offer solicitor seeking beneficial ownership of more than 5% of
Although § 14(d)(1) clearly applies to "classic" tender offers of the type described above (pp. 54-55), courts soon recognized that in the case of privately negotiated transactions or solicitations for private purchases of stock many of the conditions leading to the enactment of § 14(d) for the most part do not exist. The number and percentage of stockholders are usually far less than those involved in public offers. The solicitation involves less publicity than a public tender offer or none. The solicitees, who are frequently directors, officers or substantial stockholders of the target, are more apt to be sophisticated, inquiring or knowledgeable concerning the target's business, the solicitor's objectives, and the impact of the solicitation on the target's business prospects. In short, the solicitee in the private transaction is less likely to be pressured, confused, or ill-informed regarding the businesses and decisions at stake than solicitees who are the subjects of a public tender offer.
These differences between public and private securities transactions have led most courts to rule that private transactions or open market purchases do not qualify as a "tender offer" requiring the purchaser to meet the pre-filing strictures of § 14(d). Kennecott Copper Corp. v. Curtiss-Wright Corp., 449 F.Supp. 951, 961 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd in relevant part, 584 F.2d 1195, 1206-07 (2d Cir.1978); Stromfeld v. Great Atlantic & Pac. Tea Co., Inc., 496 F.Supp. 1084, 1088-89 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd mem., 646 F.2d 563 (2d Cir.1980); SEC v. Carter-Hawley Hale Stores, Inc., 760 F.2d 945, 950-53 (9th Cir.1985); Brascan Ltd. v. Edper Equities, Ltd., 477 F.Supp. 773, 791-92 (S.D.N.Y.1979); Astronics Corp. v. Protective Closures Co., 561 F.Supp. 329, 334 (W.D.N.Y.1983); LTV Corp. v. Grumman Corp., 526 F.Supp. 106, 109 (E.D.N.Y.1981); Energy Ventures, Inc. v. Appalachian Co., 587 F.Supp. 734, 739-41 (D.Del.1984); Ludlow v. Tyco Laboratories, Inc., 529 F.Supp. 62, 67 (D.Mass.1981); Chromalloy American Corp. v. Sun Chemical Corp., 474 F.Supp. 1341, 1346-47 (E.D.Mo.), aff'd, 611 F.2d 240 (8th Cir.1979). The borderline between public solicitations and privately negotiated stock purchases is not bright and it is frequently difficult to determine whether transactions falling close to the line or in a type of "no man's land" are "tender offers" or private deals. This has led some to advocate a broader interpretation of the term "tender offer" than that followed by us in Kennecott Copper Corp. v. Curtiss-Wright Corp., supra, 584 F.2d at 1207, and to adopt the eight-factor "test" of what is a tender offer, which was recommended by the SEC and applied by the district court in Wellman v. Dickinson, 475 F.Supp. 783, 823-24 (S.D.N.Y.1979), aff'd on other grounds, 682 F.2d 355 (2d Cir.1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1069, 103 S.Ct. 1522, 75 L.Ed.2d 946 (1983), and by the Ninth Circuit in SEC v. Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Inc., supra. The eight factors are:
. . . . .
Although many of the above-listed factors are relevant for purposes of determining whether a given solicitation amounts to a tender offer, the elevation of such a list to a mandatory "litmus test" appears to be both unwise and unnecessary. As even the advocates of the proposed test recognize, in any given case a solicitation may constitute a tender offer even though some of the eight factors are absent or, when many factors are present, the solicitation may nevertheless not amount to a tender offer because the missing factors outweigh those present. Id., at 824; Carter, supra, at 950.
We prefer to be guided by the principle followed by the Supreme Court in deciding what transactions fall within the private offering exemption provided by § 4(1) of the Securities Act of 1933, and by ourselves in Kennecott Copper in determining whether the Williams Act applies to private transactions. That principle is simply to look to the statutory purpose. In S.E.C. v. Ralston Purina Co., 346 U.S. 119, 73 S.Ct. 981, 97 L.Ed. 1494 (1953), the Court stated, "the applicability of § 4(1) should turn on whether the particular class of persons affected need the protection of the Act. An offering to those who are shown to be able to fend for themselves is a transaction `not involving any public offering.'" Id., at 125, 73 S.Ct. at 984. Similarly, since the purpose of § 14(d) is to protect the ill-informed solicitee, the question of whether a solicitation constitutes a "tender offer" within the meaning of § 14(d) turns on whether, viewing the transaction in the light of the totality of circumstances, there appears to be a likelihood that unless the pre-acquisition filing strictures of that statute are followed there will be a substantial risk that solicitees will lack information needed to make a carefully considered appraisal of the proposal put before them.
Applying this standard, we are persuaded on the undisputed facts that Hanson's September 11 negotiation of five private purchases and one open market purchase of SCM shares, totalling 25% of SCM's outstanding stock, did not under the circumstances constitute a "tender offer" within the meaning of the Williams Act. Putting aside for the moment the events preceding the purchases, there can be little doubt that the privately negotiated purchases would not, standing alone, qualify as a tender offer, for the following reasons:
In short, the totality of circumstances that existed on September 11 did not evidence any likelihood that unless Hanson was required to comply with § 14(d)(1)'s pre-acquisition filing and waiting-period requirements there would be a substantial risk of ill-considered sales of SCM stock by ill-informed shareholders.
There remains the question whether Hanson's private purchases take on a different hue, requiring them to be treated as a "de facto" continuation of its earlier tender offer, when considered in the context of Hanson's earlier acknowledged
In the first place, we find no record support for the contention by SCM that Hanson's September 11 termination of its outstanding tender offer was false, fraudulent or ineffective. Hanson's termination notice was clear, unequivocal and straightforward. Directions were given, and presumably are being followed, to return all of the tendered shares to the SCM shareholders who tendered them. Hanson also filed with the SEC a statement pursuant to § 14(d)(1) of the Williams Act terminating its tender offer. As a result, at the time when Hanson made its September 11 private purchases of SCM stock it owned no SCM stock other than those shares revealed in its § 14(d) pre-acquisition report filed with the SEC on August 26, 1985.
The reason for Hanson's termination of its tender offer is not disputed: in view of SCM's grant of what Hanson conceived to be a "poison pill" lock-up option to Merrill, Hanson, if it acquired control of SCM, would have a company denuded as the result of its sale of its consumer food and pigment businesses to Merrill at what Hanson believed to be bargain prices. Thus, Hanson's termination of its tender offer was final; there was no tender offer to be "continued." Hanson was unlikely to "shoot itself in the foot" by triggering what it believed to be a "poison pill," and it could not acquire more than 49% of SCM's shares without violating the rules of the London Stock Exchange.
Nor does the record support SCM's contention that Hanson had decided, before terminating its tender offer, to engage in cash purchases. Judge Kram referred only to evidence that "Hanson had considered open market purchases before it announced that the tender offer was dropped" (emphasis added) but made no finding to that effect. Absent evidence or a finding that Hanson had decided to seek control of SCM through purchases of its stock, no duty of disclosure existed under the federal securities laws.
Second, Hanson had expressly reserved the right in its August 26, 1985, pre-acquisition tender offer filing papers, whether or not tendered shares were purchased, "thereafter ... to purchase additional Shares in the open market, in privately negotiated transactions, through another tender offer or otherwise." (Emphasis added). See p. 46, supra. Thus, Hanson's privately negotiated purchases could hardly have taken the market by surprise. Indeed, professional arbitrageurs and market experts rapidly concluded that it was Hanson which was making the post-termination purchases.
Last, Hanson's prior disclosures of essential facts about itself and SCM in the pre-acquisition papers it filed on August 26, 1985, with the SEC pursuant to § 14(d)(1), are wholly inconsistent with the district court's characterization of Hanson's later private purchases as "a deliberate attempt to do an `end run' around the requirements of the Williams Act." On the contrary, the record shows that Hanson had already filed with the SEC and made public substantially the same information as SCM contends that Hanson should have filed before making the cash purchases. The term "tender offer," although left somewhat flexible by Congress' decision not to define it, nevertheless remains a word of art. Section 14(d)(1) was never intended to apply to every acquisition of more than 5% of a public company's stock. If that were the case there would be no need for § 13(d)(1), which requires a person, after acquiring more than 5%, to furnish the issuer, stock exchange and the SEC with certain pertinent information. Yet the expansive definition of "tender offer" advocated by SCM, and to some extent by the SEC as amicus, would go far toward rendering § 13(d)(1) a dead letter. In the present case, we were advised by Hanson's counsel upon argument on September 23 that on that date it was filing with the SEC the information required by § 13(d)(1) of the Williams Act with respect to its private purchases of
It may well be that Hanson's private acquisition of 25% of SCM's shares after termination of Hanson's tender offer was designed to block the SCM-Merrill leveraged buyout group from acquiring the 66 2/3% of SCM's stock needed to effectuate a merger. It may be speculated that such a blocking move might induce SCM to buy Hanson's 25% at a premium or lead to negotiations between the parties designed to resolve their differences. But we know of no provision in the federal securities laws or elsewhere that prohibits such tactics in "hardball" market battles of the type encountered here. See Treadway Companies, Inc. v. Care Corp., 638 F.2d 357, 378-79 (2d Cir.1980) ("We also see nothing wrong in Care's efforts to acquire one third of Treadway's outstanding stock, and thus to obtain a `blocking position'.").
Thus the full disclosure purposes of the Williams Act as it now stands appear to have been fully satisfied by Hanson's furnishing to the public, both before and after termination of its tender offer, all of the essential relevant facts it was required by law to supply.
SCM further contends, and in this respect it is supported by the SEC as an amicus, that upon termination of a tender offer the solicitor should be subject to a waiting or cooling-off period (10 days is suggested) before it may purchase any of the target company's outstanding shares. However, neither the Act nor any SEC rule promulgated thereunder prohibits a former tender offeror from purchasing stock of a target through privately negotiated transactions immediately after a tender offer has been terminated. Indeed, it is significant that the SEC's formal proposal for the adoption of such a rule (Proposed Rule 14e-5) has never been implemented even though the SEC adopted a similar prohibition with respect to an issuer's making such purchases within 10 days after termination of a tender offer. See Rule 13e-4(f)(6). Thus, the existing law does not support the prohibition urged by SCM and the SEC. We believe it would be unwise for courts judicially to usurp what is a legislative or regulatory function by substituting our judgment for that of Congress or the SEC.
In recognition of Congress' desire in enacting the Williams Act to avoid favoring either existing corporate management or outsiders seeking control through tender offers (see pp. 55-56, supra), the role of the courts in construing and applying the Act must likewise be one of strict neutrality. Rondeau v. Mosinee Paper Corp., supra, 422 U.S. at 58-59, 95 S.Ct. at 2075-76. Although we should not hesitate to enforce the Act's disclosure provisions through appropriate relief, we must also guard against improvident or precipitous use of remedies that may have the effect of favoring one side or the other in a takeover battle when allegations of violation of the Act, often made in the heat of the contest, may not be substantiated. In this context the preliminary injunction, which is one of the most drastic tools in the arsenal of judicial remedies, Medical Soc. of State of N.Y. v. Toia, 560 F.2d 535, 537 (2d Cir.1977) ("an extraordinary and drastic remedy which should not be routinely granted"), must be used with great care, lest the forces of the free market place, which in the end should determine the merits of takeover disputes, are nullified.
In the present case we conclude that since the district court erred in ruling as a matter of law that SCM had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, based on the theory that Hanson's post-tender offer private purchases of SCM constituted a de facto tender offer, it was an abuse of discretion to issue a preliminary injunction. Indeed, we do not believe that Hanson's transactions raise serious questions going to the merits that would provide a fair ground for litigation. In view of this holding it becomes unnecessary to rule upon the district court's determination that the balance of hardships tip in favor of SCM and that absent preliminary relief it would suffer irreparable injury. However, our
SCM and its stockholders may well have an adequate remedy at law. No other SCM stockholder is prevented by Hanson's acquisitions from tendering stock in response to the SCM-Merrill offer for purchase at $74 per share. Assuming that Hanson's purchases were ultimately found to violate the Williams Act, SCM stockholders deprived of their ability to realize $74 per share under the SCM-Merrill offer could recover money damages for the losses they suffered. See Rondeau v. Mosinee Paper Corp., supra, 422 U.S. at 61, 95 S.Ct. at 2077. Furthermore, an order requiring Hanson to rescind its purchases is within the scope of relief courts may grant. J.I. Case v. Borak, 377 U.S. 426, 433-34, 84 S.Ct. 1555, 1560-61, 12 L.Ed.2d 423 (1964). Finally, there is no evidence that any other "White Knights" or independent bidders for control of SCM stood in the wings and might have joined the bidding fray except for Hanson's purchases. On the contrary, the SCM-Merrill tender offer states that Goldman Sachs "held discussions with several potential purchasers of the Company [SCM]" but that, although interest was expressed in acquiring one or more of SCM's businesses, "no firm proposals were made or prices discussed ... for the Company as a whole, other than the proposal [by Merrill] for the leveraged buyout of the Company described below."
The order of the district court is reversed, the preliminary injunction against Hanson is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion. The mandate shall issue forthwith.
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17 C.F.R. § 240.14d-7 provides that any person who has deposited securities pursuant to a tender offer has the right to withdraw such securities during a period up to 15 business days from the commencement of the tender offer.