For an SME owner, the sale of their business or a strategic acquisition of another is one of the biggest commercial decisions a business owner can face. A sale or acquisition can be several months in the making but with preparation the transaction can become smoother and investment into the company can be more attractive from a buyer’s perspective.
Most buyers will want to carry out commercial, legal and financial due diligence. The aim of due diligence is to uncover any ‘skeletons in the closet’ the buyer should know about pre-completion.
Depending on the findings of the due diligence, the buyer will either decide to:
• Complete the transaction;
• Reduce the purchase price; or
• Walk away from the deal
The buyer may also acknowledge that some points flagged by due diligence will need to be sorted post-completion, but they are willing to proceed regardless.
Before spending too much time and money, an SME owner may want to consider putting pre-transaction agreements in place.
These may include:
• Heads of Terms
Setting out the agreed commercial terms, this acts as a framework on which the legal documents can be prepared
• Non-Disclosure Agreement
This acts to safeguard any confidential information shared during the course of the deal
• Exclusivity Agreement
A buyer will commit finances, resources and time in pursuit of acquiring the target company. They may look for comfort from the seller that their proposed deal will not be trumped by another party by seeking exclusivity from the seller
During the drafting phase the lawyers and accountants will collaborate to draft, review and, if necessary, negotiate the terms of the transaction documents. These documents may include:
• The Share (or Asset) Purchase Agreement
• Disclosure Letter
• Shareholders’ Agreement
• Loan Notes
• Articles of Association
• Deeds of Release
• Stock Transfer Forms
• Board Minutes
• Written Resolutions
• New Share Certificates
• Powers of Attorney
• Indemnities for lost or destroyed share certificates
• Letters regarding the company’s Persons of Significant Control (‘PSCs’)
• Companies House Forms
Once the parties are happy with the deal, due diligence has not uncovered any major issues and the legal documents are agreed. The deal may seem 99% complete, but there are still important points to contemplate
Now that the transaction has completed, no doubt both the buyer and the seller want to take a breather, however there are still important points for the parties to consider:
If you would like to discuss any of the points raised or any concerns you have please call today on 023 9298 1000 or contact one of our team below.