Acquiring a financially troubled company, whether in San Jose, Palo Alto, or New York often requires consideration of the bankruptcy process. If the seller is already in bankruptcy, the buyer must convince the bankruptcy court that it represents the best source of funds to repay existing creditors. If the bankrupt company has attractive technology, there may be other buyers, and the court will typically award that company to the buyer who will pay the most money.
If the seller is not yet in bankruptcy, the parties may decide to purchase the company through a bankruptcy proceeding. If planned properly, the bankruptcy process can provide the buyer with a number of advantages. First, the seller’s assets are purchased free of any liens or other claims (although courts continue to wrestle with allowing subsequent successor liability claims). Second, because the assets are purchased “as-is,” sale documentation is typically shorter than for sales outside of bankruptcy, and stockholder approval is not required.
Planning for purchasing a company through a bankruptcy involves entering into arrangements with the selling company’s creditors and other stakeholders before the bankruptcy filing. As part of these arrangements, a reorganization plan and acquisition agreement may be prepared and agreed to prior to the filing. Once the appropriate pieces are in place, the seller will file for bankruptcy and include the pre-agreed reorganization plan in its bankruptcy documentation. The sale can be completed in a few months barring no other suitors or other unforeseen impediments. Bankruptcy counsel is necessary for both parties to properly shepherd the transaction through the proceedings, and corporate counsel is critical to insure that documentation is accurate and necessary corporate formalities are followed.
Financially troubled companies often provide the opportunity for others to purchase businesses at a relatively lower cost. Reaping the advantages successfully requires balancing the needs of all the business’s stakeholders.
Structure Law Group attorneys can guide you through the merger and acquisition process, and routinely work with accountants, investment bankers, business brokers, bankruptcy attorneys and financial advisors to help business owners meet their goals.