Apr 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Pacific Collective says coronavirus is an act of God that prevented ExxonMobil deal

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pacific Collective, a California retail developer, is asking a court to declare the state's coronavirus lockdown to be an act of God, or force majeure, that prevented it from completing a $4.2 million property purchase from ExxonMobil, per Reuters.

Why it matters: This is the leading edge of what could become a flood of similar lawsuits. Force majeure is a common term in M&A contracts, but there is no legal consensus that it covers a pandemic — let alone government action in response to a pandemic.

The bottom line: "Clauses that are silent on pandemics, epidemics, or other viral outbreaks are likely to be insufficient for a force majeure defense due to COVID-19, unless, of course, courts liberalize the force majeure analysis to account for market realities." — Paul, Weiss litigation department note

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Unpacking a surprise jobs report

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Can we trust this morning's surprisingly good employment report?

  • The short answer: Yes.

The emergency era of environmental policy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Welcome to the crisis era of energy and environmental policymaking.

Driving the news: A new White House executive order, citing COVID-19, invokes emergency powers to accelerate and even waive some environmental reviews of infrastructure and energy projects.

HBCUs are missing from the discussion on venture capital's diversity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is beginning a belated conversation about its dearth of black investors and support of black founders, but hasn't yet turned its attention to the trivial participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as limited partners in funds.

Why it matters: This increases educational and economic inequality, as the vast majority of VC profits go to limited partners.