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Family-Owned Companies


Comprising over 90% of all businesses in Germany, family-owned companies generate more than 40% of total sales and provide one in every two permanent jobs. A sustainable, value-driven approach, greater agility, flexibility, innovative ideas and strong employee loyalty enable family-owned companies to survive and flourish through the generations. Nonetheless, globalisation and increasing competition are particularly challenging trends for family firms.

CMS Germany – a reliable partner for family-owned companies

CMS Germany has been advising family-owned companies for decades on all matters related to commercial law, tax law and inheritance law. Family businesses value our role as a reliable partner who provides advice on the company's strategic direction both within Germany and internationally, assists with operational aspects of the business and with corporate transactions, and helps to plan the transition to the next generation.

Our corporate law support for family-owned companies goes hand in hand with the personal advice provided to family business owners, mostly by the experts in our Private Clients practice. In many cases we support family businesses via interdisciplinary teams that comprise corporate law specialists, tax and finance experts, employment lawyers, competition lawyers and specialists in protecting intellectual property. Our lawyers acquaint themselves fully with the client's business, allowing them to respond appropriately at all times.

Our services for family-owned companies

Our Corporate practice advises family-owned companies on the best legal set-up for their regional and sector-specific market environment. Our first step is to consider the strategic options for aligning business interests and family well-being. We then create the relevant contracts, from family constitutions and shareholder agreements to model agreements with customers and suppliers. We also advise family businesses on personnel decisions, such as selecting the management team, and provide ongoing corporate law advice.

In close consultation with the family business owner we assess asset management risks, provide support for investment projects and transactions, and develop strategies for corporate succession.

Our corporate law advice for family-owned companies includes:

  • Drafting shareholder agreements and family codes
  • Advising on the choice of legal form and on changes
  • Restructuring family businesses and corporate groups
  • Advising on corporate transactions and agreement of joint ventures within Germany and internationally
  • Providing legal advice on corporate and group financing, cash pooling
  • Rescue and restructuring of family businesses
  • Organising family and shareholder meetings and providing relevant legal support
  • Contract design and ongoing advice on contract law
  • Litigation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution, involving both shareholder disputes and business operations

Our Private Clients practice offers additional advisory services for family-owned businesses and family business owners.

International activities of family-owned companies

The business activities of family-owned companies do not stop at national borders. Accordingly, we also provide advice on establishing subsidiaries or production facilities in other countries, on joint ventures and cross-border corporate transactions (M&A) and on international trading and distribution relationships.

The international CMS organisation provides family-owned companies with access to local expertise in 40 countries around the world. Our close collaboration with the lawyers of CMS's international Corporate practice enables us to provide excellent cross-border advice to family businesses at all times and to represent our clients as required.

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