Direct Stock Acquisition and Reverse Triangular Merger

There are multiple options to implement the acquisition of a business.  The purchaser or acquirer could purchase the stock of the target corporation, or the assets of the target corporation.  If the stock of the target corporation is to be purchased there are multiple options and variations by which the stock can be acquired.  The article below will discuss some of the common stock acquisitions that are available for a corporation to acquire another.

The Direct Stock Purchase

The direct purchase of stock from the target shareholders may be the simplest structure and means by which to implement a stock acquisition.  Through a direct stock purchase, the acquirer will purchase stock of the target from the shareholders of the target for an agreed upon purchase price or consideration.  When the target is a closely held corporation, the acquirer can work out and negotiate the deal directly with the shareholders of the target corporation.  When the target corporation is a publicly held corporation, the acquirer could purchase stock via the open market, or produce a cash tender offer (or exchange offer) for the purchase of the target corporation’s stock.  A tender offer would be an offer to purchase shares of the corporation for cash, in comparison to an exchange offer, which is an offer to exchange stock, securities or other consideration.  Certain (and different) securities laws must be considered when weighing tender offers versus exchange offers.

Often one or both parties will wish for the transaction to be a tax-free exchange under the Internal Revenue Code.  It is important to note that for the exchange to be considered under Internal Revenue Code Section 368, a tax free exchange of stock would require the consideration paid to the target shareholders consist solely of the voting stock the acquiring corporation, or the parent of the acquiring corporation.  See IRC section 368(a)(1)(B) and related treasury regulations for more information regarding a tax-free exchange.

Reverse Triangular Merger (Indirect Stock Purchase)

 A direct stock purchase may not always be feasible to consummate an acquisition, especially if the target corporation is publicly held.  When publicly held, each shareholder must decide whether to sell their shares via the public market or via the tender or exchange offer.  The odds may be stacked such that one or a few number of shareholders do not wish to sell, or perhaps are even unaware of the offer to dispose of their shares. There is an approach that can legally require the shareholders to sell known as the reverse triangular merger.  The benefit of the reverse triangular merger is that conversion of the shares occurs via operation of law, and is binding on the target corporation’s shareholders.  Thus, the purchaser or acquirer can legally force and guarantee the acquisition of the shares.

The reverse triangular merger would work as follows: Purchasing, Inc. wants to acquire all of the shares of Targeted, Inc., which is publicly held.  Purchasing Inc. and Targeted, Inc. have agreed upon the consideration to be paid and the other terms and conditions.  Purchasing, Inc. would form Subsidiary, Inc. and Subsidiary, Inc. would be merged with Targeted, Inc., with Targeted, Inc. as the survivor.  Via operation of law, the stock of Subsidiary, Inc. is converted to stock of Targeted, Inc. and Purchasing, Inc. as the sole shareholder of Subsidiary, Inc. would receive all of the stock of Targeted, Inc.  The former shareholders of Targeted, Inc. would receive the agreed upon consideration.  Further, Purchasing, Inc. is now the sole shareholder of Targeted, Inc.

The above article has been prepared by John McGuire of The McGuire Law Firm.  John is a tax attorney and business attorney in Denver, Colorado and can be contacted at John@jmtaxlaw.com

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