Relationship with NBCU and GE Equity
Alliance with GE Equity and NBCU
In March 1999, the Company entered into an alliance with GE Equity and NBCUniversal Media, LLC ("NBCU"), pursuant to which the Company issued Series A redeemable convertible preferred stock and common stock warrants, and entered into a shareholder agreement, a registration rights agreement, a distribution and marketing agreement and, the following year, a trademark license agreement. On February 25, 2009, the Company entered into an exchange agreement with the same parties, pursuant to which GE Equity exchanged all outstanding shares of the Company’s Series A preferred stock for (i) 4,929,266 shares of the Company’s Series B redeemable preferred stock, (ii) a warrant to purchase up to 6,000,000 shares of the Company’s common stock at an exercise price of $0.75 per share and (iii) a cash payment in the amount of $3.4 million. In connection with the exchange, the parties also amended and restated the 1999 shareholder agreement and registration rights agreement. The outstanding agreements with GE Equity and NBCU are described in more detail below.
The shares of Series B redeemable preferred stock were redeemable by the Company at any time for an initial redemption amount of $40.9 million, plus accrued dividends at a base annual rate of 12%, subject to adjustment. In addition, the Series B preferred stock provided GE Equity with class voting rights and the rights to designate members of the Company's board of directors. In April, 2011, the Company redeemed all of the outstanding Series B preferred stock for $40.9 million and paid accrued dividends of $6.4 million.
In January 2011, General Electric Company (“GE”) consummated a transaction with Comcast Corporation (“Comcast”) pursuant to which GE contributed all of its holdings in NBCU to NBCUniversal, LLC, a newly formed entity beneficially owned 51% by Comcast and 49% by GE. As a result of that transaction, NBCU became a wholly owned subsidiary of NBCUniversal, LLC.
As of February 17, 2012, the direct equity ownership of GE Equity in the Company consisted of warrants to purchase up to 6,000,000 shares of common stock and, as of May 16, 2011, (their most recent filed 13D), the direct ownership of NBCU in the Company consisted of 7,141,849 shares of common stock and warrants to purchase 7,372 shares of common stock. The Company is currently making arm’s length negotiated payments to Comcast for cable distribution under a pre-existing contract.
In connection with the transfer of its ownership in NBCU, GE also agreed with Comcast that, for so long as GE Equity is entitled to appoint two members of our board of directors, NBCU will be entitled to retain a board seat provided that NBCU beneficially owns at least 5% of our adjusted outstanding common stock as computed under the amended and restated shareholders agreement described below. Furthermore, GE agreed to obtain the consent of NBCU prior to consenting to our adoption of any shareholders rights plan or certain other actions that would impede or restrict the ability of NBCU to acquire or dispose of shares of the Company's voting stock or taking any action that would result in NBCU being deemed to be in violation of Federal Communications Commission multiple ownership regulations.
NBCU Trademark License Agreement
On November 16, 2000, the Company entered into a trademark license agreement with NBCU pursuant to which NBCU granted it an exclusive, worldwide license for a term of ten years to use certain NBC trademarks, service marks and domain names to rebrand the Company’s business and corporate name and website. The Company subsequently selected the names ShopNBC and ShopNBC.com.
Under the license agreement, the Company has agreed, among other things, to (i) certain restrictions on using trademarks, service marks, domain names, logos or other source indicators owned or controlled by NBCU, (ii) the loss of its rights under the license with respect to specific territories outside of the United States in the event it fails to achieve and maintain certain performance targets in such territories, (iii) not own, operate, acquire or expand its business to include certain businesses without NBCU’s prior consent, (iv) comply with NBCU’s privacy policies and standards and practices, and (v) not own, operate, acquire or expand its business such that one-third or more of our revenues or the Company’s aggregate value is attributable to certain services (not including retailing services similar to our existing e-commerce operations) provided over the internet. The license agreement also grants to NBCU the right to terminate the license agreement at any time upon certain changes of control of the Company, in certain situations upon the failure by NBCU to own a certain minimum percentage of the Company’s outstanding capital stock on a fully diluted basis, and certain other situations.
In connection with the license agreement, the Company issued to NBCU warrants to purchase 6,000,000 shares of the Company’s common stock at an exercise price of $17.375 per share all of which have expired unexercised. In March 2001, the Company established a measurement date with respect to the license agreement by amending the agreement, and fixed the fair value of the trademark license asset at $32,837,000, which is being amortized over the remaining term of the license agreement. On March 28, 2007, the Company and NBCU agreed to extend the term of the license by six months, such that the license would continue through May 15, 2011, and to provide that certain changes of control involving a financial buyer would not provide the basis for an early termination of the license by NBCU. On November 18, 2010, the Company announced a further extension of the license agreement to May 2012, an option to further extend the license agreement to May 2013 upon the mutual agreement of both parties, and an agreement to enter into a separate transition agreement, on the terms and subject to the conditions to be mutually agreed between the parties, relating to the twelve month period following the ultimate expiration of the license agreement. In consideration for the license agreement extension, the Company issued 689,655 shares of the Company’s common stock to NBCU on May 16, 2011. Shares issued were valued at $6.04 per share, representing the fair market value of our stock on the date of issuance. As of January 28, 2012 and January 29, 2011, accumulated amortization related to this asset totaled $37,388,000 and $33,509,000 respectively.
Amended and Restated Shareholder Agreement
On February 25, 2009, the Company entered into an amended and restated shareholder agreement with GE Equity and NBCU, which provides for certain corporate governance and standstill matters. The amended and restated shareholder agreement provides that GE Equity is entitled to designate nominees for three out of nine members of the Company’s board of directors so long as the aggregate beneficial ownership of GE Equity and NBCU (and their affiliates) is at least equal to 50% of their beneficial ownership as of February 25, 2009 (i.e., beneficial ownership of approximately 8.75 million common shares, including for such purpose, shares of our common stock issuable to GE Equity upon exercise of the warrant for 6,000,000 shares of our common stock), and two out of nine members so long as their aggregate beneficial ownership is at least 10% of the shares of “adjusted outstanding common stock,” as defined in the amended and restated shareholder agreement. In addition, the amended and restated shareholder agreement provides that GE Equity may designate any of its director-designees to be an observer of the Audit, Human Resources and Compensation, and Corporate Governance and Nominating Committees of our board of directors. The amended and restated shareholder agreement requires the consent of GE Equity prior to the Company entering into any material agreements with any of CBS, Fox, Disney, Time Warner or Viacom (and their respective affiliates), provided that this restriction will no longer apply when either (i) the Company’s trademark license agreement with NBCU (described below) has terminated or (ii) GE Equity is no longer entitled to designate at least two director nominees. In addition, the amended and restated shareholder agreement requires the consent of GE Equity prior to the Company (i) exceeding certain thresholds relating to the issuance of securities, the payment of dividends, the repurchase or redemption of common stock, acquisitions (including investments and joint ventures) or dispositions, and the incurrence of debt; (ii) entering into any business different than what the Company and its subsidiaries are currently engaged; and (iii) amending the Company’s articles of incorporation to adversely affect GE Equity and NBCU (or their affiliates); provided, however, that these restrictions will no longer apply when both (i) GE Equity is no longer entitled to designate three director nominees and (ii) GE Equity and NBCU no longer hold any Series B preferred stock. The Company is also prohibited from taking any action that would cause any ownership interest by the Company in television broadcast stations from being attributable to GE Equity, NBCU or their affiliates.
The amended and restated shareholder agreement further provides that during the “standstill period” (as defined in the amended and restated shareholder agreement), subject to certain limited exceptions, GE Equity and NBCU are prohibited from: (i) any asset/business purchases from the Company in excess of 10% of the total fair market value of the Company’s assets; (ii) increasing their beneficial ownership above 39.9% of our shares, treating as outstanding and actually owned for such purpose shares of our common stock issuable to GE Equity upon exercise of the warrant for 6,000,000 shares of our common stock; (iii) making or in any way participating in any solicitation of proxies; (iv) depositing any securities of the Company in a voting trust; (v) forming, joining or in any way becoming a member of a “13D Group” with respect to any voting securities of the Company; (vi) arranging any financing for, or providing any financing commitment specifically for, the purchase of any voting securities of the Company; or (vii) otherwise acting, whether alone or in concert with others, to seek to propose to the Company any tender or exchange offer, merger, business combination, restructuring, liquidation, recapitalization or similar transaction involving the Company, or nominating any person as a director of the Company who is not nominated by the then incumbent directors, or proposing any matter to be voted upon by the Company’s shareholders. If, during the standstill period, any inquiry has been made regarding a “takeover transaction” or “change in control,” each as defined in the amended and restated shareholder agreement, that has not been rejected by the Company’s board of directors, or the Company’s board of directors pursues such a transaction, or engages in negotiations or provides information to a third party and the board of directors has not resolved to terminate such discussions, then GE Equity or NBCU may propose to the Company a tender offer or business combination proposal.
In addition, unless GE Equity and NBCU beneficially own less than 5% or more than 90% of the adjusted outstanding shares of common stock, GE Equity and NBCU shall not sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of any securities of the Company except for transfers: (i) to certain affiliates who agree to be bound by the provisions of the amended and restated shareholder agreement, (ii) that have been consented to by the Company, (iii) subject to certain exceptions, pursuant to a third-party tender offer, (iv) pursuant to a merger, consolidation or reorganization to which the Company is a party, (v) in an underwritten public offering pursuant to an effective registration statement, (vi) pursuant to Rule 144 of the Securities Act of 1933, or (vii) in a private sale or pursuant to Rule 144A of the Securities Act of 1933; provided, that in the case of any transfer pursuant to clause (v), (vi) or (vii), the transfer does not result in, to the knowledge of the transferor after reasonable inquiry, any other person acquiring, after giving effect to such transfer, beneficial ownership, individually or in the aggregate with that person’s affiliates, of more than 10% (or 20% in the case of a transfer by NBCU) of the adjusted outstanding shares of the common stock, as determined in accordance with the amended and restated shareholder agreement.
The standstill period will terminate on the earliest to occur of (i) the ten-year anniversary of the amended and restated shareholder agreement, (ii) the Company entering into an agreement that would result in a “change in control” (subject to reinstatement), (iii) an actual “change in control” (subject to reinstatement), (iv) a third-party tender offer (subject to reinstatement), or (v) six months after GE Equity can no longer designate any nominees to the Company’s board of directors. Following the expiration of the standstill period pursuant to clause (i) above and two years in the case of clause (v) above, GE Equity and NBCU’s beneficial ownership position may not exceed 39.9% of the Company’s adjusted outstanding shares of common stock, except pursuant to issuances or exercises of any warrants or pursuant to a 100% tender offer for the Company.
Registration Rights Agreement
On February 25, 2009, the Company entered into an amended and restated registration rights agreement providing GE Equity, NBCU and their affiliates and any transferees and assigns, an aggregate of four demand registrations and unlimited piggy-back registration rights. In addition, NBCU was subsequently granted one additional demand registration right pursuant to the second amendment of the NBCU Trademark License Agreement