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Benefit corporation

A benefit corporation, or in short-hand a B corporation, is a class of corporation required by law to create general benefit for society as well as for shareholders. Benefit Corporations must create a material positive impact on society, and consider how their decisions affect their employees, community, and the environment. Moreover, they must publicly report on their social and environmental performances using established third-party standards.[32] The chartering of Benefit Corporations is an attempt to reclaim the original purpose for which corporations were chartered in early America. Then, states chartered corporations to achieve a specific public purpose, such as building bridges or roads. Their legitimacy stemmed from their delegated charter, although they could still earn profits while fulfilling it

Over time, however, corporations came to be chartered without any public purpose, while being legally bound to the singular purpose of profit-maximization for its shareholders. Advocates of Benefit Corporations assert that this singular focus has resulted in a variety of societal ills, including the thwarting of democracy, diminished social good, and negative environmental impacts.[33] In April 2010, Maryland became the first U.S. state to pass Benefit Corporation legislation. Hawaii, Virginia, California, Vermont, and New Jersey soon followed. Additionally, as of November 2011, Benefit Corporation legislation had been introduced or partially passed in Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.[34] Benefit Corporation laws address concerns held by entrepreneurs who wish to raise growth capital but fear losing control of the social or environmental mission of their business. In addition, the laws provide companies the ability to consider factors other than the highest purchase offer at the time of sale, in spite of the ruling on Revlon, Inc. v. MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, Inc.. Chartering as a Benefit Corporation also allows companies to distinguish themselves as businesses with a social conscience, and as one that aspires to a standard they consider higher than mere profit-maximization for shareholders The Court declared that, in certain limited circumstances indicating that the "sale" or "break-up" of the company is inevitable, the fiduciary obligation of the directors of a target corporation are narrowed significantly, the singular responsibility of the board being to maximize immediate stockholder value by securing the highest price available. (The role of the board of directors transforms from "defenders of the corporate bastion to auctioneers charged with getting the best price for the stockholders at a sale of the company."[1]) Accordingly, the board's actions are evaluated in a different frame of reference. In such a context, that conduct can not be judicially reviewed pursuant to the traditional business judgment rule, but instead will be scrutinized for reasonableness in relation to this discrete obligation. The force of this statement spurred a corporate takeover frenzy, since directors believed that they were compelled to conduct an auction whenever their corporation appeared to be "in play," so as to not violate their fiduciary duties to the shareholders. Colloquially, the board of a firm that is "in Revlon mode" acquires certain Revlon duties, which requires the firm to be auctioned or sold to the highest bidder. The Court reached this holding in affirming the issuance by the Court of Chancery below of a preliminary injunction precluding Revlon, Inc. from consummating a proposed transaction with one of two competing bidders that effectively ended an active and ongoing auction to acquire the company

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