When acquiring a government contractor, review and analysis of the target’s current government contracts is a central focus of due diligence for purposes of assessing the legal and business risks. Pending bids and proposals, however, also present unique issues and challenges and could have a significant impact on the anticipated value of the business.
Post-acquisition, the loss of resources from a former parent company or affiliated company may jeopardize the target company’s pending proposals. This situation could arise both where the proposal is successful and a protester challenges the award to the successor contractor, and where the successor contractor is not the successful awardee and itself seeks to challenge the procuring agency’s award decision. This article discusses recent decisions issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and highlights key issues for both sellers and buyers arising from pending proposals. The decisions highlight the potential impact a merger or acquisition may have on a target company’s outstanding proposals and the importance of careful review of these proposals during due diligence.
The issues presented by pending proposals, like all issues presented in a due diligence review and risk assessment, must be considered in the context of the broader deal. Typically, this will involve negotiation of key provisions in the acquisition and ancillary agreements, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings in the context of a public deal, Hart-Scott-Rodino reviews, and approvals by the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission and avoidance of “gun-jumping” under the antitrust laws. Additionally, there is often the need to maintain secrecy and limit knowledge of the deal to a confined, manageable deal team with a “need to know.”
For a publicly traded company, prior to a public announcement of an acquisition, it would be unlawful for the company to share information about the proposed transaction with the procuring agency or others in advance of the public announcement or the required filing with the SEC. Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) prevents a public company from selectively disclosing material nonpublic information to certain individuals or entities without making public disclosure of such information. The upshot is that when a target has a significant portfolio of pending proposals that could be material to the deal and the future value, and sustainability of the acquired business, the acquirer should appoint a team to review each pending proposal and, based on its terms, decide what needs to be disclosed to the contracting agencies, or risk disqualification or loss of a contract in a post-award protest. This also means that notice to agencies must be coordinated with notices to the SEC and public announcements. Risks concerning pending proposals may, of course, also arise in acquisitions of privately held companies.
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