Owner-managed businesses make up the majority of businesses in the UK and take many forms, including sole traders, partnerships and private companies.
The businesses for which we act range from recently established entities to those that have been around for many generations and each has its own particular characteristics.
In the case of family businesses, while the family dynamic can often make for a very closely aligned and complementary team, it can also bring additional complexities and sensitivities. Issues such as succession planning, family representation at Board level, non-family executive leadership, strategic planning and shareholder relations add layers of complexities to the ‘normal’ trading challenges faced by every business.
What all owner-managed businesses have in common, however, is that the individuals, Boards and partners running such businesses are to a greater or lesser extent directly responsible for their own futures, and the decisions they take can and do impact upon their personal wealth and financial security to a much greater extent than those of employed managers and directors.
Our family business specialists are drawn from our corporate and private wealth and tax teams and all have extensive experience of working with a broad range of owner-managed businesses and the individuals behind them. Together with relevant specialists from other areas of the firm, they provide joined-up advice to shareholders, directors and other stakeholders covering all aspects of the legal issues which they may encounter in running their business and managing their personal affairs.
To find out more about how our family business lawyers can assist please get in touch.
Scott & Fyfe
Scott & Fyfe, a long-standing family-owned manufacturing company, decided to make the significant transition to employee ownership to facilitate retiral and exit for different generations of family shareholders. This was conducted as part of its long-term succession planning, while ensuring retention of the manufacturing centre and workforce in its local community. We advised the family on the sale of its shares to an employee benefit trust, and reinvestment of the "younger generation" share proceeds in redeemable preference shares to ensure financial stability for the company.
Through an innovative structure and use of an Employee Benefit Trust, a retiring managing director was able to be bought out by third generation management (including his son) and employees. He then loaned back the sale proceeds to minimise cashflow impact and avoid the need for bank debt, while enabling him to conduct advance estate planning to mitigate his and his family's IHT exposure.
Managing Business Exit
Two owner-directors were seeking exit, but their company owned the premises. The premises were transferred to the directors' self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs). Shareholder Cross Option (Protection) policies were in place, although they were insufficient to match share value when one director died unexpectedly. Our coordinated advice on pension/ISA planning and an MBO facilitated an exit via an unexpected route but successfully, both for the widow and the other director/spouse.
A highly profitable agricultural business, operated through a partnership, was unwieldy for raising finance and led to heavy personal taxation liabilities on the partners. For succession planning, a structured approach was taken to incorporate the business, combining the sale of the inherent goodwill, to a new company controlled by the family. This enabled partial exit and realisation of capital value at 10% CGT. The structure will facilitate bringing on the children as shareholders later, differentiating between those involved in the business and those who are not, coupled with adjustment of the parents' wills to reflect any imbalances in value.