Relationship with NBCU, Comcast 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.
Relationship with GE Equity, Comcast and NBCU
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, whose common equity was initially beneficially owned 51% by Comcast and 49% by GE. As a result of that transaction, NBCU became a wholly owned subsidiary of NBCUniversal, LLC. In March 2013, GE sold its remaining 49% common equity interest in NBCUniversal, LLC to Comcast pursuant to an agreement reached in February 2013.
As of February 2, 2013, 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 the direct ownership of NBCU in the Company consisted of 7,141,849 shares of common stock. The Company has a significant cable distribution agreement with Comcast and believes that the terms of this agreement are comparable to those with other cable system operators.
In connection with the January 2011 transfer of its ownership in NBCU to NBCUniversal, LLC, GE also agreed with Comcast that, for so long as GE Equity is entitled to appoint two members of the Company's board of directors, NBCU will be entitled to retain a board seat provided that NBCU beneficially owns at least 5% of the Company's 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 the Company's adoption of any shareholder 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 the 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 NBCU 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 the Company's revenues or aggregate value is attributable to certain services (not including retailing services similar to the Company's 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.
On May 11, 2012, the Company amended its trademark license agreement for the use of the ShopNBC brand name with NBCU, extending the term of the license agreement through January 31, 2014. As consideration for the amendment, the Company paid NBCU $4,000,000 upon execution of the amendment and agreed to pay NBCU an additional $2,830,000 on May 15, 2013, which is included in accrued liabilities in the accompanying February 2, 2013 consolidated balance sheet. NBCU now also has the right to terminate the trademark license agreement if (i) the Company were to be in material breach of, default under or non-compliance with the terms and conditions of its Credit Facility (unless such breach, default or non-compliance is cured within 90 days or consented to or waived by the lender or agent under the Credit Facility), or (ii) if credit availability under the Credit Facility plus the Company's unrestricted cash were to fall below $8 million. In addition, in the event that we were not to renew our trademark license agreement upon expiration, we agreed to enter into a separate transition agreement with NBCU, on terms and subject to the conditions to be mutually agreed between the parties, relating to the three-month period prior to the January 31, 2014, expiration date.
On May 16, 2011, the Company issued 689,655 shares of the Company's common stock to NBCU as consideration for a previous one year extension of the same trademark license agreement. Shares issued were valued at $6.04 per share, representing the fair market value of the Company's stock on the date of issuance. As of February 2, 2013 and January 28, 2012, accumulated amortization related to this asset totaled $6,999,000 and $2,951,000 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 the Company's common stock issuable to GE Equity upon exercise of the warrant for 6,000,000 shares of the Company's 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 the Company's 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 above) 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 (1) GE Equity is no longer entitled to designate three director nominees and (2) 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) making 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 the Company's shares, treating as outstanding and actually owned for such purpose shares of the Company's common stock issuable to GE Equity upon exercise of the warrant for 6,000,000 shares of the Company's 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.