Mergers and Acquisitions

Company sales and acquistions

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.

Always do your research

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.

Pre-Transaction considerations

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

The drafting phase

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

Signing on the dotted line

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

  • Will there be a physical or a remote completion?
  • Have the conditions to completion (if any) been satisfied (i.e. existing security released)?
  • Are completion funds in place?
  • Who is required to sign each document and are they lined up to do so?

Post-completion considerations

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 the transaction includes completion accounts, the parties will need to note the dates by which these accounts need to be prepared and agreed.
  • Filings at Companies House will need to be made promptly.
  • If the buyer has bought shares in the target company for more than £1,000, the stock transfer form(s) must be submitted to HMRC within 30 days.
  • The buyer must update the target company’s statutory registers to reflect the transaction.
  • The buyer will need to sort out any issues uncovered during the due diligence process.

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. 

Adam Corcoran
Principal Lawyer and Head of Commercial Property
Andrea Cox
Principal Lawyer - Wills, Trust and Probate
Carla Burt
Conveyancing Assistant - Residential Property
Charlene Griffin
Team Assistant - Family
Charlotte Attwood
Team Assistant - Family
Conor Geoghegan
Solicitor - Commercial Property
David Hawkins
Litigation Executive - Historic Abuse
Ellie Reynolds
Solicitor - Wills, Trusts and Probate
Gemma Johnson
Team Assistant - Residential Property
Iain Belcher
Consultant - Wills, Trust and Probate
Jackie Dobson
Team Assistant - Historic Abuse
Jackie Goring
Solicitor - Commercial Property
Jackie Sneddon
Team Assistant - Family
Jane Pethick
Team Assistant - Employment and Corporate & Commercial
Jane Wheeler
Solicitor - Family Law
Jeremy Paterson
Senior Associate - Dispute Resolution
Lisa Gafarov
Litigation Executive - Historic Abuse
Louise Bambury
Client Service Coordinator
Marie Forbes
Solicitor - Historic Abuse/Litigation
Michael Dyer
Principal Lawyer and Head of Business Law
Natalie Chance
Team Assistant - Marine
Natalie Tait
Team Assistant - Wills, Trust and Probate
Nickie Mills
Team Assistant - Wills, Trust and Probate
Nigel Wale
Team Assistant - Commercial Property
Robert Harris
Consultant - Commercial Property
Sara-Jayne Fildes
National Head of Family Law
Sue Ball
Principal Lawyer, Head of Employment & Southern Region
Tim Reynolds
Principal Lawyer and Southern Region Head of Marine
Tracy Hunns-Clarke
Litigation Executive