Company Sale

Directors and Associates Loan Account in M&A transactions

Company Sale

“So you want to pay more tax than you ought when you sell shares in a company?” If the answer to this question is "NO!" then this article is essential reading.

Problems can arise in one of two situations:

If you have a group company or a number of companies in common ownership it is possible that you have inter group loan accounts on the balance sheets of some or all of these companies. It is essential in those circumstances that you have deal with them prior to sale.

You may have purchased the shares in the company with a completion payment that is split into two parts, part purchase price and part introduction of a loan amount. This often occurs where the original seller had introduced loan capital into the company to develop the business or to expand it but did not do so by the creation and acquisition of additional shares. This would mean that the purchase price element would be the starting point for the calculation of Capital Gains Tax on sale.

Why is there a problem?

Section 455 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/4/section/455 provides for a 25% tax charge where a loan is created in favour of a participator or an associate of a participator that is not at arms-length. In a sale if the loan is not dealt with appropriately it is likely that the loan itself will be a breach of warranty if not fully and fairly disclosed. Furthermore, the writing down of the loan at completion would create the 25% tax charge on the company and have to be borne by the buyer. In addition, the structure of the purchase price as the full completion payment might not be tax efficient. For instance if you don’t consider the loans at sale having done so at purchase the full amount of the loan capital that you introduced would be subject to Capital Gains Tax as it would not have formed part of the original purchase price meaning that the starting point from which CGT liability will be calculated will be lower. It is essential that careful consideration is given in these circumstances to how to deal with the inter group loans as part of the completion process.

So what should you do now?

If you are thinking of selling a business and you think this is relevant we recommend that you contact our Brendan O’Brien to discuss your options. We work with a number of accountants who will be able to assist you in determining the appropriate method to use to complete the transaction in a tax efficient manner. Contact us here: http://www.breezeandwyles.co.uk/index.php/form-for-business/