DESCRIPTION OF OUR REGISTERED SECURITIES
As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, Barings BDC, Inc. (“we” or the “Company”) has one class of its securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended: common stock. Our common stock is listed on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “BBDC.”
The following description is based on relevant portions of the Maryland General Corporation Law and on the Company’s Articles of Amendment and Restatement (as amended and supplemented, the “charter”) and Seventh Amended and Restated Bylaws (the “bylaws”). This summary is a description of the material terms of, and is qualified in its entirety by, the charter and bylaws, each of which is incorporated by reference as an exhibit to this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and may not contain all of the information that is important to you. We refer you to the Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter and bylaws for a more detailed description of the provisions summarized below.
Our authorized capital stock consists of 150,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, of which 48,950,803 shares were outstanding as of December 31, 2019. There are no outstanding options or warrants to purchase our common stock. No common stock has been authorized for issuance under any equity compensation plans. Under Maryland law, our stockholders generally are not personally liable for our indebtedness or obligations.
Under our charter, our Board of Directors is authorized to classify and reclassify any unissued shares of common stock into other classes or series of stock, and to cause the issuance of such shares, without obtaining stockholder approval. In addition, as permitted by the Maryland General Corporation Law, but subject to the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the "1940 Act"), our charter provides that a majority of the entire Board of Directors, without any action by our stockholders, may amend the charter from time to time to increase or decrease the aggregate number of shares of stock or the number of shares of stock of any class or series that we have authority to issue.
All shares of our common stock have equal rights as to earnings, assets, distribution and voting privileges, except as described below, and, when they are issued, will be duly authorized, validly issued, fully paid and nonassessable. Distributions may be paid to the holders of our common stock if, as and when authorized by our Board of Directors and declared by us out of assets legally available therefor. Shares of our common stock have no preemptive, exchange, conversion or redemption rights and are freely transferable, except where their transfer is restricted by federal and state securities laws or by contract.
In the event of a liquidation, dissolution or winding up of our company, each share of our common stock would be entitled to share ratably in all of our assets that are legally available for distribution after we pay all debts and other liabilities and subject to any preferential rights of holders of our preferred stock, if any preferred stock is outstanding at such time.
Each share of our common stock is entitled to one vote on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders, including the election of directors. A majority of the votes cast at a meeting of stockholders duly called and at which a quorum is present will be sufficient to approve any matter which may properly come before the meeting, unless more than a majority of the votes cast is required by statute or by the charter. Except as provided with respect to any other class or series of stock, the holders of our common stock will possess exclusive voting power. There is no cumulative voting in the election of our directors, which means that holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of common stock can elect all of our directors.
Any action required or permitted to be taken at a meeting of stockholders may be taken without a meeting if there is filed with the records of stockholders meetings an unanimous written consent which sets forth the action and is signed by each stockholder entitled to vote on the matter and a written waiver of any right to dissent signed by each stockholder entitled to notice of the meeting but not entitled to vote at it.
Provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law and Charter and Bylaws
The Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter and bylaws contain provisions that could make it more difficult for a potential acquiror to acquire us by means of a tender offer, proxy contest or otherwise. These provisions are expected to discourage certain coercive takeover practices and inadequate takeover bids and to encourage persons seeking to acquire control of us to negotiate first with our Board of Directors.
Classified board of directors
In accordance with our charter and bylaws, we have elected to be subject to the provisions of Section 3-803 of the Maryland General Corporation Law. Pursuant to this election, our Board of Directors is divided into three classes, designated Class I, Class II and Class III, as nearly equal in number as possible, and the term of office of directors of one class shall expire at each annual meeting of stockholders. Upon expiration of the term of office of each class, the successors to the class of directors whose term expires at each annual meeting of stockholders will be elected to hold office for a term continuing until the annual meeting of stockholders in the third year following the year of their election and until their successors are elected and qualify.
Election of directors
Pursuant to our bylaws, a nominee for director is elected to the Board of Directors if the number of votes cast for such nominee’s election exceed the number of votes cast against such nominee’s election.
Number of Directors; Vacancies; Removal
Our charter provides that the number of directors will be set only by the Board of Directors in accordance with our bylaws. Our bylaws provide that a majority of our entire Board of Directors may at any time increase or decrease the number of directors. However, unless the bylaws are amended, the number of directors may never be less than one nor more than 12. We have elected to be subject to the provision of Subtitle 8 of Title 3 of the Maryland General Corporation Law regarding the filling of vacancies on the Board of Directors. Accordingly, except as may be provided by the Board of Directors in setting the terms of any class or series of preferred stock, any and all vacancies on the Board of Directors may be filled only by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors in office, even if the remaining directors do not constitute a quorum, and any director elected to fill a vacancy shall serve for the remainder of the full term of the directorship in which the vacancy occurred and until a successor is elected and qualifies, subject to any applicable requirements of the 1940 Act. Our charter provides that a director may be removed only for cause, as defined in the charter, and then only by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast generally in the election of directors.
Advance Notice Provisions for Stockholder Nominations and Stockholder Proposals
Our bylaws provide that with respect to an annual meeting of stockholders, nominations of individuals for election to the Board of Directors and the proposal of other business to be considered by stockholders may be made only (1) pursuant to our notice of the meeting, (2) by or at the direction of the Board of Directors or (3) by a stockholder who is a stockholder of record both at the time of giving the notice required by our bylaws and at the time of the meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting in the election of each individual so nominated or on any such other business and who has complied with the advance notice procedures of the bylaws. With respect to special meetings of stockholders, only the business specified in our notice of the meeting may be brought before the meeting. Nominations of individuals for election to the Board of Directors at a special meeting may be made only (1) by or at the direction of the Board of Directors or (2) provided that the meeting has been called in accordance with our bylaws for the purpose of electing directors, by a stockholder who is a stockholder of record both at the time of giving the notice required by our bylaws and at the time of the meeting, who is entitled to vote at the meeting in the election of each individual so nominated and who has complied with the advance notice provisions of the bylaws.
For nominations or other business to be properly brought before an annual meeting by a stockholder pursuant to our bylaws, the stockholder must have given timely notice thereof in writing to the Company’s Secretary and such other business must otherwise be a proper matter for action by the stockholders. To be timely, a stockholder’s notice must set forth all information required under our bylaws and must be delivered to the Secretary at the Company’s principal executive office not earlier than the 120th day nor later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the 90th day prior to the first anniversary of the date of the proxy statement for the preceding year’s annual meeting; provided, however, that in the event that the date of the annual meeting is advanced or delayed by more than 30 days from the first anniversary of the date of the preceding year’s annual meeting, notice by the stockholder to be timely must be so delivered not earlier than the 120th day prior to the date of such annual meeting and not later than the close of business on the later of the 90th day prior to the date of such annual meeting or the tenth day following the day on which public announcement of the date of such meeting is first made.
Calling of Special Meeting of Stockholders
Our bylaws provide that special meetings of stockholders may be called by our Board of Directors and certain of our officers. Additionally, our bylaws provide that, subject to the satisfaction of certain procedural and informational requirements by the stockholders requesting the meeting, a special meeting of stockholders shall be called by our secretary to act upon any
matter that may properly be considered at a meeting of stockholders upon the written request of stockholders entitled to cast not less than a majority of all of the votes entitled to be cast on such matter at such meeting.
Approval of Extraordinary Corporate Action; Amendment of Charter and Bylaws
Under Maryland law, a Maryland corporation generally cannot dissolve, amend its charter, merge, sell all or substantially all of its assets, engage in a share exchange or engage in similar transactions outside the ordinary course of business, unless approved by the affirmative vote of stockholders entitled to cast at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. However, a Maryland corporation may provide in its charter for approval of these matters by a lesser percentage, but not less than a majority of all of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Our charter generally provides for approval of amendments to our charter and extraordinary transactions by the stockholders entitled to cast at least a majority of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Our charter also provides that certain amendments and any proposal for our conversion, whether by merger or otherwise, from a closed-end company to an open-end company or any proposal for our liquidation or dissolution requires the approval of the stockholders entitled to cast at least 75.0% of the votes entitled to be cast on such matter. However, if such amendment or proposal is approved by at least 75.0% of our continuing directors (in addition to approval by our Board of Directors), such amendment or proposal may be approved by the stockholders entitled to cast a majority of the votes entitled to be cast on such a matter. The “continuing directors” are defined in our charter as our current directors, as well as those directors whose nomination for election by the stockholders or whose election by the directors to fill vacancies is approved by a majority of the continuing directors then on the Board of Directors.
Our charter and bylaws provide that the Board of Directors will have the exclusive power to make, alter, amend or repeal any provision of our bylaws.
No Appraisal Rights
Except with respect to appraisal rights arising in connection with the Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act, or the Control Share Act, discussed below, as permitted by the Maryland General Corporation Law, our charter provides that stockholders will not be entitled to exercise appraisal rights, unless the Board of Directors, upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the Board of Directors, determines that such rights apply, with respect to all or any class or series of stock, to one or more transactions occurring after the date of determination in connection with which holders of such shares would otherwise be entitled to exercise such rights.
Control Share Acquisitions
The Control Share Act provides that control shares of a Maryland corporation acquired in a control share acquisition have no voting rights except to the extent approved by a vote of at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter. Shares owned by the acquiror, by officers or by employees who are directors of the corporation are excluded from shares entitled to vote on the matter. Control shares are voting shares of stock which, if aggregated with all other shares of stock owned by the acquiror or in respect of which the acquiror is able to exercise or direct the exercise of voting power (except solely by virtue of a revocable proxy), would entitle the acquiror to exercise voting power in electing directors within one of the following ranges of voting power:
one-tenth or more but less than one-third;
one-third or more but less than a majority; or
a majority or more of all voting power.
The requisite stockholder approval must be obtained each time an acquiror crosses one of the thresholds of voting power set forth above. Control shares do not include shares the acquiring person is then entitled to vote as a result of having previously obtained stockholder approval. A control share acquisition means the acquisition of issued and outstanding control shares, subject to certain exceptions.
A person who has made or proposes to make a control share acquisition may compel the board of directors of the corporation to call a special meeting of stockholders to be held within 50 days of demand to consider the voting rights of the shares. The right to compel the calling of a special meeting is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, including an undertaking to pay the expenses of the meeting. If no request for a meeting is made, the corporation may itself present the question at any stockholders meeting.
If voting rights are not approved at the meeting or if the acquiring person does not deliver an acquiring person statement as required by the statute, then the corporation may repurchase for fair value any or all of the control shares, except those for
which voting rights have previously been approved. The right of the corporation to repurchase control shares is subject to certain conditions and limitations. Fair value is determined, without regard to the absence of voting rights for the control shares, as of the date of the last control share acquisition by the acquiror or of any meeting of stockholders at which the voting rights of the shares are considered and not approved. If voting rights for control shares are approved at a stockholders meeting and the acquiror becomes entitled to vote a majority of the shares entitled to vote, all other stockholders may exercise appraisal rights. The fair value of the shares as determined for purposes of appraisal rights may not be less than the highest price per share paid by the acquiror in the control share acquisition.
The Control Share Act does not apply (a) to shares acquired in a merger, consolidation or share exchange if the corporation is a party to the transaction or (b) to acquisitions approved or exempted by the charter or bylaws of the corporation. Our bylaws contain a provision exempting from the Control Share Act any and all acquisitions by any person of our shares of stock. There can be no assurance that such provision will not be otherwise amended or eliminated at any time in the future. However, we will amend our bylaws to be subject to the Control Share Act only if our Board of Directors determines that it would be in our best interests and if the staff of the SEC does not object to our determination that our being subject to the Control Share Act does not conflict with the 1940 Act.
Under the Maryland Business Combination Act, or the Business Combination Act, “business combinations” between a Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder or an affiliate of an interested stockholder are prohibited for five years after the most recent date on which the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. These business combinations include a merger, consolidation, share exchange or, in circumstances specified in the statute, an asset transfer or issuance or reclassification of equity securities. An interested stockholder is defined as:
any person who beneficially owns 10.0% or more of the voting power of the corporation’s outstanding voting stock; or
an affiliate or associate of the corporation who, at any time within the two-year period prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner of 10.0% or more of the voting power of the then outstanding stock of the corporation.
A person is not an interested stockholder under this statute if the board of directors approved in advance the transaction by which such stockholder otherwise would have become an interested stockholder. However, in approving a transaction, the board of directors may provide that its approval is subject to compliance, at or after the time of approval, with any terms and conditions determined by the board.
After the 5-year prohibition, any business combination between the Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder generally must be recommended by the board of directors of the corporation and approved by the affirmative vote of at least:
80.0% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of outstanding shares of voting stock of the corporation; and
two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of voting stock of the corporation other than shares held by the interested stockholder with whom or with whose affiliate the business combination is to be effected or held by an affiliate or associate of the interested stockholder.
These super-majority vote requirements do not apply if the corporation’s common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined under Maryland law, for their shares in the form of cash or other consideration in the same form as previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares.
The statute permits various exemptions from its provisions, including business combinations that are exempted by the board of directors before the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. The Board of Directors has adopted a resolution explicitly subjecting the Company to the Business Combination Act. The Board of Directors may by further resolution at any time in the future approve or exempt from the provisions of the Business Combination Act any business combinations, whether specifically, generally or generally by types or as to specifically identified or unidentified existing or future interested stockholders or their affiliates, as contemplated by Section 3-603(c) of the Maryland General Corporation Law.
Conflict with 1940 Act
Our bylaws provide that, if and to the extent that any provision of the Maryland General Corporation Law, or any provision of our charter or bylaws conflicts with any provision of the 1940 Act, the applicable provision of the 1940 Act will control.
Our bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland (the “Maryland Circuit Court”) or the state court located within the City of Raleigh in Wake County, North Carolina (the “NC State Court”), or, if neither of these courts have jurisdiction, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division or the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, will be the sole and exclusive forum for (a) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company, (b) any action asserting an internal corporate claim (as defined in the MGCL) or (c) any other action asserting a claim against the Company or any director or officer or other employee of the Company that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. Any stockholder (or beneficial owner of stock) who is a party to any action or proceeding governed by the exclusive forum provision of the bylaws will be deemed to have consented to the jurisdiction of the foregoing courts solely for the purpose of adjudicating any action or proceeding governed by such provisions. With respect to an action or proceeding in the Maryland Circuit Court and the NC State Court governed by the exclusive forum provisions of the bylaws, the Company and the stockholders (or beneficial owners of stock) will be deemed to have consented to the assignment of the action or proceeding to the Business and Technology Case Management Program for the State of Maryland (or any successor program governing complex corporate proceedings) and the North Carolina Business Court, respectively.