Change of ownership

Finding a new owner for your business is an undertaking that has emotional, practical and economic consequences. Here is a guide on how to proceed.

Timely care

Always keep transfer at the back of your mind

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Specific preparations

Get ready to transfer your business

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Business transfer

Be well prepared for the big decisions

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Preparations to sell your business should always be ongoing

  • There are many possibilities -  so consider them continuously
    Transfer the business to your children, sell it to a competitor, sell it to senior employees or sell it to an investor? When it comes to finding a new owner for your business, there are many options.

    Even though there are very few business owners who have selling-off on their agenda in their busy everyday lives, you should still think about what will happen to your business in the long run. Only this way can you ensure the best possible prerequisites for a solution and price that suit you.

    In other words, preparations for the sale of your business or transfer of ownership in some other way should start long before there is a need for it. In principle, every business owner should carefully reflect on these matters.
  • What do you want?
    As a business owner, the first thing you must do is decide on your own preferences. Are you dreaming about placing the fruits of your labour in the hands of your children? Would you like your current employees to take over? Or are you only focusing on getting the highest possible price? Would you prefer to retain ownership as long as possible, or sell your business at a time that would allow you to enjoy a long retirement or pursue other projects?

    It is absolutely essential to make your mind up about what your preferences are in these areas. This is the starting point of the further process clarifying your actual options.
  • What is your business worth?
    In order to be able to provide a realistic picture of your finances and options, it is necessary to conduct an initial assessment of the value of your business. For many business owners, this will be of the utmost importance in determining the options you have in relation to your financial situation.

    This appraisal of your business is usually conducted by an auditor or another financial advisor. At this point, it should be regarded solely as an indication – because the transfer itself usually requires a new accurate assessment of the value of your business.
  • Consequences for your personal financial situation
    It is now time to look at your personal finances and see what they are like today and what they will be like in the future.

    Here, together with your bank consultant and possibly auditor and lawyer, you can take a more realistic look at your personal assets and the opportunities they present. What can you do with them and what will the future be like? How would you like to live your life?
  • Increase the value of your business

    It may sound trite, but this step is about maximising the value of your business. Many business owners will say that this is what they strive for every day. However, it is now a matter of activating the knowledge you acquired in the previous step.

    Remember that your desired duration and type of ownership change and the things the appraisal has uncovered can have a major influence on the decisions you make today. If you want to sell off as soon as possible to an external party at the highest possible price, you should probably focus on streamlining your company's costs and optimising its cash flow, whereas it can make more sense to invest more if you wish to pass on a strong company to your children in 20 years’ time.
    Here you should consider that potential buyers do not look solely at the financial aspects of your business. Contact with customers and, for example, ensuring that business practices have been recorded can also be important to buyers. Neither verbal agreements nor the knowledge you have in your head have any value to a future owner.

    Preparing for a change of ownership in good time can also change the way you manage your business today.


     You can read other guides on change of ownership on these pages:

    Get ready to transfer your business
    Be well prepared for the big decision

You are preparing for a new owner for your business

  • An extensive project
    If you are specifically considering finding a new owner for your business, there are several steps you need to take in order to make this happen. Preparations to transfer your business involve legal advice and an updated overview of both your private financial situation and your company’s finances.

    If you are not ready to find a new owner for your business yet but would like to be well prepared, you should take a look at this guide about this phase before it becomes something tangible.
  • Keep legal aspects under control
    When your business is about to change owners, it is of decisive importance to keep a close eye on the legal circumstances. What legal obligations does your business have in relation to suppliers, customers and partners, if any? And how is ownership of the business structured?

    It is also a good idea to make sure that a clear line is drawn around the legal aspects on the personal front. For example, are there any prenuptial agreements or wills that need updating?

    For all this you need a good lawyer.
  • Determine the value of your business and start the transfer process
    Regardless of whether you hand over ownership to a family member, want to sell to an existing employee or transfer the business to an external third party, your business must be appraised. For this you usually need the assistance of an expert consultant.

    If your business can be sold to an external party, potential buyers need to be identified and sales documents and a sale and marketing plan need to be drafted. A consultant who specialises in corporate acquisitions (and certain auditors) can do this for you.
  • Updating your financial situation plan

    When you take specific steps towards a change of ownership, you must have an updated plan of your financial situation and what the options for selling the business will mean for it. This is something your bank consultant can help you with.

    This step is closely linked with the information below, where your business is appraised because doing so is essential for your financial situation.

    You can read other guides on change of ownership on these pages:

    Always keep transfer at the back of your mind

    Be well prepared for the big decision

You transfer your business to a new owner

  • Structure and taxation of the transaction
    When you are about to transfer your business to a new owner, you have to be aware of several financial, tax-related and legal matters. The first is the structure of the transaction.

    If you have chosen to sell the business to an external party, you have to assess the options and offers. Before you select your preferred buyer, you should not only consider the price but also look at the differences in payment method and payment terms.

    Regardless of whether you sell to an external party, hand over the business to a family member or sell it to a current employee, the structure of the transaction itself should be defined now. The transfer assets must be accurately defined and the best possible transaction composition identified.

    Here, you need to consider the tax consequences of the different options. For this you will need guidance from a tax consultant, auditor or any other type of expert advisor.
  • Define the framework and narrow down your options
    Next, substantial negotiations are conducted with the preferred buyers. The economic and practical aspects of the transaction are defined here. You must also select whether to proceed with one or several potential buyers.

    Here you will need the guidance of a corporate acquisitions consultant, an auditor, a lawyer or a bank.
  • Buyer selection and transfer of business

    In this step you open your books to one or several potential buyers so they can conduct a final review of them (due diligence). After that, final negotiations take place.

    If the negotiations end in an agreement, the sale documentation is drafted and the assets of your business can be transferred to the new owner. Next, it is time to hand over the keys to your business, which now has new owners.

    You can read other guides on change of ownership on these pages:

    Always keep transfer at the back of your mind

    Get ready to transfer your business

  • Placement of earnings from selling your business
    Now you must think about how to use the proceeds from selling your business. If you do not intend to use the money within the next three years, this is an obvious opportunity to invest it. That way you will can expect a higher return in the long run compared to keeping the money in a bank account.

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