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Corporate Succession

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One of the biggest challenges currently facing family firms is maintaining the family's wealth and securing the continued existence of the business. The experts in our Private Clients practice have been successfully advising business owners for decades on corporate succession planning and implementation.

Corporate succession: safeguarding assets, maintaining independence

In addition to the overarching objectives of preserving the company for future generations and securing the associated jobs, our advice on corporate succession focuses on maintaining the long-term independence of the business and ensuring it remains in safe hands.

Our corporate succession advice starts with the existing set-up: we examine the articles of association and ownership structure, management arrangements and contract details, and financing basis.

When designing a corporate succession plan aimed at maintaining the value of the assets and maximising the tax benefits, our suggestions typically include optimising contracts, considering a change of legal form or restructuring the company under corporate law.

If there is no direct successor for the business, we develop alternative succession models such as a sale to management (MBO, MBI), bringing in outside investors or transfer to a family foundation.

Tax and family-law aspects of corporate succession

Our corporate law advice on corporate succession is closely linked to the tax, family and inheritance law issues facing business owners and successors. On the basis of our clients' specific situation, we draft marriage contracts, divorce and separation agreements, set up wills and inheritance contracts that take account of any desire to exclude claims to a compulsory portion and also advise on asset transfers during the owner’s lifetime.

Our advice on corporate succession also includes:

  • Drafting and negotiating succession arrangements from a corporate law viewpoint
  • Reorganising company structures and holdings to avoid succession problems
  • Restructuring to enable and implement succession planning (including management shareholdings, strategic partnerships)
  • Sale and participation options if there are no successors within the family
  • Solutions involving foundations and trusts (including family foundations, "Doppelstiftungen" (a combination of charitable and company foundations), shareholder and holding foundations)
  • International succession planning (including relocation planning)
  • Testamentary dispositions (wills, inheritance contracts) and marriage contracts
  • Inheritance support and execution of wills, estate management
  • Avoiding disputes among the heirs, handling disputes among co-heirs

International corporate succession

Many of the family-owned businesses we advise operate at international level. Accordingly, they are increasingly faced with the task of optimising their corporate succession arrangements with regard to international tax and inheritance law aspects. In complex cross-border cases we call in experts from the CMS Private Clients Specialty Group established by the international CMS organisation. This enables us to guarantee our clients high-calibre specialist advice on corporate succession from a single source.

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