Three affiliated hedge fund companies and their management company, Third Point LLC, have agreed to settle FTC charges that they violated premerger reporting laws in connection with their 2011 acquisitions of stock in Yahoo! Inc. The complaint alleges that Third Point Partners
Qualified L.P., Third Point Ultra, LTD, and Third Point Offshore Fund, LTD failed to observe the filing and waiting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act before purchasing shares in Yahoo. According to the complaint, the three defendant funds claimed that they were exempt from reporting to the U.S. antitrust authorities because the purchases were made solely for investment purposes. At the time of the stock purchases, however, defendant Third Point LLC, which made investment decisions on behalf of the funds, was taking actions inconsistent with an investment-only intent. Under the terms of the proposed stipulated five-year federal court order, the defendants are prohibited from relying on the investment-only exemption if they have contacted third parties to gauge their interest in joining the board of the target company, communicated with the target company about proposed candidates for its board, or engaged in other specified conduct in the four months prior to acquiring voting securities above the HSR Act threshold. In this case, the agencies determined not to seek civil penalties based on several factors, including that the violation was inadvertent and short-lived, and this was the defendants’ first violation of the HSR Act.