Articles Tagged with Contracts

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are complex business transactions with much on the line.  If a merger or acquisition is not successful, a business can lose substantial assets.  Of course, no one would intentionally enter into an acquisition transaction knowing it would fail; however, reports have indicated that more than half of acquisitions do fail at some point.

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It is important to understand how acquisitions fail, steps to take to prevent failure, and how your business can recover from a failed merger and acquisition.  An experienced California merger and acquisition lawyer from Structure Law Group, LLP can help you understand all aspects of a merger and acquisition and help you prepare for any outcome.

Common Reasons For Failed Acquisitions

Selling a business can be an extremely lucrative prospect, but like any business transaction, the deal can go wrong and can be unnecessarily costly.  The sale of a business usually is not the sale of one asset; instead, all the assets of the business are sold or transferred.  One way to ensure that the sale of your business ends up in your favor is to skillfully negotiate the definitive agreement that sets out the final terms of the sale.  The experienced corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP have helped many entrepreneurs sell their businesses to achieve cost effective and positive results.

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The following are only a few questions to ask when drafting a definitive agreement to sell your business:

  • What does the sale include – what is the business, what are the business assets and liabilities?

When multiple individuals begin conducting business together, they may have effectively created a partnership, even if they didn’t intend to do so.  Thus, even though partnerships can be formed without the partners actually signing a partnership agreement, the partnership and its partners become subject to state laws governing partnerships.  The California business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP understand the laws and mechanics required to build a strong foundation for a partnership.  Being careful and meticulous about the partnership formation process can also help to prevent litigation if and when a dispute arises between and among business partners.

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Partnership Agreements

 Although not required under California law, as discussed above, entering into a partnership agreement when forming a partnership is highly recommended.  A partnership agreement is a legally binding contract that, among other things, dictates the roles of the partners and establishes guidelines for management of the partnership.  In addition, partnership agreements set out how potential legal disputes will be resolved.

An earnout is a type of pricing structure used in mergers and acquisitions that makes some of the purchase price contingent on the performance of the business after the acquisition has taken place. In this sense, the sellers must “earn” this part of the sale price. At its most basic, these provisions serve to reallocate post-sale risk to both the buyer and the seller.  When considering a merger or acquisition, it is often best to get counsel from an experienced Silicon Valley merger & acquisition attorney to fully understand the terms and conditions of the agreement.

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When Are Earnouts Employed?

Earnouts can be employed in a variety of situations to resolve points of contention in the negotiations of a merger or an acquisition. Commonly, they are used when the seller is more optimistic about the future value of the company than the buyer. The earnout clause will allow both parties to reach an agreement that they believe to be fair. They can also be used as a financing mechanism and for the sale of startups with little operational and financial history.

Government contracts can be lucrative for many companies, large or small. Often, one company wants to bid on a government contract but needs assistance from another company to fully perform the contracted work. In such cases, the two companies would combine their resources to share the bid and the contract, if awarded.  When this situation arises, it is critical to ensure that the companies have an agreement, a “teaming agreement”, stating how the work set forth in the government contract is to be divided to protect the interests of each business.

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Many teaming agreements involve a large corporation acting as the primary contractor and one or more smaller businesses acting as subcontractors. Smaller businesses naturally want to protect their interests against larger corporate entities with more resources. Preparing bids can be costly and time consuming and can take focus away from other day to day operations of the business.

Unfortunately, the problem is that many teaming agreements have been deemed unenforceable by California state courts. Because a teaming agreement is signed before a contract is awarded and whether it takes effect is dependent upon winning the contract, many courts have stated that teaming agreements are “an agreement to agree” in the future instead of a binding contract. This means that a subcontractor could take the time to prepare a bid and enter into an agreement with a primary contractor, and once the government contract is won by the primary contractor, it could decide to use a different subcontractor, leaving little legal recourse for the subcontractor.

When forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC), one must choose who will be responsible for managing the operations of the company. LLCs are managed by either its members or by a manager(s) and are, therefore, either member-managed or manager-managed. Some entrepreneurs know which form they want for their business from the start while other don’t know which would be best and don’t know how to come to the right decision.  Consulting with a knowledgeable Silicon Valley corporate attorney will allow the entrepreneur to understand every avenue for their company and reassures them that their business is moving forward in the right direction.

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Member-managed LLCs

In forming an LLC, the “members” are the owners of the company. In a member-managed LLC, the members of the LLC are actively involved in the running of the LLC’s business. It is the members who handle the day-to-day running of the company and share in the responsibility for management decisions.

Real estate transactions are complex and often involve valuable property and a significant sum of money. In a real estate transaction, both the buyer and seller of real estate have significant interests on the line they desire to protect; one way of doing this are escape clauses. Since many things can go wrong in a real estate transaction, real estate contracts include many different provisions and clauses that can come into play during the course of the deal or transaction. It is often wise to have an experienced California real estate attorney draft or review any contracts.

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A real estate buyer understandably wants to be aware of the condition and known risks of the property they are purchasing and to ensure the transaction will not unknowingly cost them more money than anticipated in the long run. On the other hand, if a real estate seller enters into a contract with a particular buyer and stops soliciting other buyers, they can lose out on opportunities  if that buyer suddenly backs out of the deal.

To protect buyers while also protecting the interests of sellers, many real estate contracts in California have one or more “escape clauses”. These escape clauses allow the buyer to withdraw from the transaction if certain circumstances arise and the seller has proper notice that the contract is contingent upon these clauses.

Corporate merger and acquisitions are highly technical transactions with a lot at stake for all parties involved. It can take thousands of hours of dedicated work to finalize this type of deal and the last thing you want is to commit time, energy, and money to the process only to have one party back out at the last minute. For this reason, the early stages of any merger and acquisition should involve a carefully drafted and negotiated letter of intent (LOI) that is signed by all parties.

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What is a Letter of Intent?

Before you begin the merger and acquisition process, both parties should be on the same page regarding the basic terms of the transaction. These terms are set out in a letter of intent that the parties can review and negotiate to ensure they are in general agreement regarding the basic terms of the final agreement before they commit resources to the transaction. Though you want the terms of a letter of intent to be attractive to the other party, you should also always be realistic.  Disputes can arise later in the M&A process that can halt the process and you could even be accused of acting in bad faith.

Every time a contract is signed, the potential exists that one party fails to perform the obligations specified under the contract. In such cases, the aggrieved party may elect to file a lawsuit to try to seek performance under the contract or, more typically, for losses incurred as a result of the other party’s non-performance. However, in some cases, there may be a defense to the enforcement of the contract.  One such defense is undue influence.

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Undue influence is the unfair or improper persuasion of one person by another or excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will resulting in inequity. A party’s apparent consent to a contract (or transaction) is not free or real when it is obtained through undue influence. In other words, a contract obtained though undue influence is voidable.  Consent is deemed to have been obtained through undue influence when the purported consent would have been refused if the acts constituting undue influence had not existed.

In California, there are four circumstances, prescribed by the civil code, in which undue influence occurs:

Many partnerships begin among friends or individuals with similar interests who have a business idea together. However, having a good business idea and being able to cooperate to actually run a successful partnership are two very different things. In many cases, you may realize that your partner is not pulling his or her own weight or is even bringing the business down through his or her actions, or lack thereof. In such situations, you may naturally wonder what you have to do to remove that partner from the partnership and continue running the company without them.

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Unfortunately, simply removing a partner and continuing with business as usual is often much harder than it seems. Your options should be closely evaluated depending on your specific circumstances.  Having the assistance from a San Jose partnership attorney will help your business establish a binding partnership agreement that will allow the business to run smoothly and efficiently even if a situation arises between partners.

Do You have a Partnership Agreement?

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