Shareholder disputes

Getting into business is a lot like getting married, and it’s pretty similar when things go wrong. A lot gets lost in the emotional fallout of a shareholder dispute – you might feel hard-done by, there might be ruined friendships and wasted time. You might not even be on speaking terms.

It’s pretty hard to strike a deal to part ways when emotions are running high and there’s money involved.

You might need a valuation, but you probably don’t. You probably just need some help negotiating, and cutting through the emotion.

What has value?

For larger businesses you might need a valuation to agree a price, because there’s more at stake. Getting to the core of the dispute often identifies other levers that we can pull to get an outcome, and different things have value to different people.

Usually, money isn’t even the most important thing, and a high level valuation opinion is all you need. Especially if all parties are experienced in and involved in the business, they will have an idea of what the business is worth.

Getting to an agreement

Usually, shareholder disputes crop up because of a lot of little things, and that last little thing has pushed someone over the edge. You know you need to go your separate ways, but you can’t agree on what that actually means.

The outcome is usually the same. Someone buys someone else out. But the process can be very different depending on what’s caused the dispute. Sometimes you’ll be willing to burn the village down to save it. Sometimes your business is your baby and you absolutely must protect it at all costs.

Pulling some of these levers and maybe even splitting the business up can often get a better outcome than just crunching the numbers.

The key questions are, what does success look like to you,
and can we help you get there?

Getting someone else to crunch the deal

Sometimes the best thing you can do is remove yourself from the situation, and have someone else step in with the high level parameters of an acceptable deal outlined.

This is especially true if you’re at the point where you hate each other’s guts and want to just move on. Sometimes, you’ll want to remove yourself from the situation even if things are not at that level. Especially if you value the friendship and think it can still be saved.

Getting someone to represent you in a negotiation means there’s much less of a chance that you’ll make an irrational decision and either ask for too much and derail things, or ask for too little and sell yourself short.

Ending up in court

If things have already gone too far and it’s not going to settle out of court, we are able to put together evidence for you. This could be preparing a valuation (or set of valuations), helping define commercial aspects of the tradeoff, critiquing another valuation, or a bit of everything. We will sit in the witness box if needed.

Next steps

If you need a bit of help pulling together ideas of how you’re going to get yourself untangled from your fellow shareholders, we’re happy to have a confidential, complimentary catch up to see if we’re a good fit.

Just get in touch by filling out the enquiry form below, or contact the team directly.

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Joshna Mistry

Partner and Value Added
Services Lead.
Read Joshna’s profile.

Humphrey Hart

Senior Analyst and
Entrepreneur.
Read Humphrey’s profile.

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Richard Ashby (our tax specialist) provides advice, comments and updates on what’s been happening in the world of tax each week.