In transactions, boards of directors rely on fairness opinions as one element of a decision process that creates a safe harbor related to significant decisions. Fairness opinions are issued by a financial advisor at the request of a board that is contemplating a significant corporate event such as selling, acquiring, going private, raising dilutive capital, and/or repurchasing a large block of shares. Under U.S. case law, the concept of the “business judgment rule” presumes directors will make informed decisions that reflect good faith, care and loyalty to shareholders. Directors are to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of shareholders. Boards that obtain fairness opinions are doing so as part of their broader mandate to make an informed decision.
The fairness opinion states that a transaction is fair from a financial point of view of the subject company’s shareholders. The opinion does not express a view about where a security may trade in the future; nor does it offer a view as to why a board elected to take a certain action. Valuation is at the heart of a fairness opinion, though valuation typically is a range concept that may (or may not) encompass the contemplated transaction value.
This presentation, delivered on November 30, 2015 at the IV OIV International Business Valuation Conference in Milan, Italy by Jeff K. Davis, CFA, managing director of Mercer Capital’s Financial Institutions Group, addresses the topic of dual fairness opinions and the role of the valuation firm.