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Förvärvslåneförbudet - en analys

Ekblom, Elsa LU (2012) JURM01 20121
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Vid företagsförvärv kan det finnas en önskan hos köparen att låta målbolaget medverka till finansieringen av aktieförvärvet. Möjligheterna till sådan medverkan begränsas emellertid genom det s.k. förvärvslåneförbudet i 21 kap. 5 § aktiebolagslagen (2005:551) enligt vilket aktiebolag inte får ge förskott, lämna lån eller ställa säkerhet (”lån m.m.) i syfte att gäldenären ska förvärva aktier i bolaget eller överordnat bolag i samma koncern. I framställningen ges en grundlig analys av förbudet och osäkra aspekter beträffande förbudets tillämpningsområde klargörs i den mån möjligt enligt gällande rätt.

Gällande utgångspunkterna för tolkningen syftar förbudet till att skydda bolagets borgenärer mot att bolagets egna bundna kapital urholkas.... (More)
Vid företagsförvärv kan det finnas en önskan hos köparen att låta målbolaget medverka till finansieringen av aktieförvärvet. Möjligheterna till sådan medverkan begränsas emellertid genom det s.k. förvärvslåneförbudet i 21 kap. 5 § aktiebolagslagen (2005:551) enligt vilket aktiebolag inte får ge förskott, lämna lån eller ställa säkerhet (”lån m.m.) i syfte att gäldenären ska förvärva aktier i bolaget eller överordnat bolag i samma koncern. I framställningen ges en grundlig analys av förbudet och osäkra aspekter beträffande förbudets tillämpningsområde klargörs i den mån möjligt enligt gällande rätt.

Gällande utgångspunkterna för tolkningen syftar förbudet till att skydda bolagets borgenärer mot att bolagets egna bundna kapital urholkas. Samtidigt är den etablerade uppfattningen att legalitetsprincipen föranleder att förbudet ska tolkas restriktivt i enlighet med dess ordalydelse. Vid en eventuell kollision mellan dessa tolkningsaspekter bör legalitetsprincipen enligt min mening ges företräde. Det kan emellertid inte uteslutas att förbudets borgenärsskyddsfunktion bör kunna tillmätas större betydelse än vad som medgivits i denna framställning.

Gällande rekvisiten i förbudet kan konstateras att kravet på förvärvssyfte förutsätter ett orsakssamband mellan lån och aktieförvärv där målbolagets syfte med lånet m.m. är bestämmande. Sannolikt är tillräckligt att lånet m.m. har utgjort ett led i förvärvets genomförande. Däremot synes inte nödvändigt att köparen har haft bristande finansieringsförmåga. Förskotts- låne- och säkerhetsbegreppet har vidare givits samma innebörd som gäller för begreppen enligt vedertagen juridisk terminologi. Med närstående avses troligen endast de personer som räknas upp i lagen. Legalitetsskäl tycks förhindra att även andra personer inbegrips. Vidare avses med överordnat bolag i samma koncern endast moderbolag i koncerner som har ett svenskt moderbolag ”i toppen”. Sammantaget möjliggörs kringgåenden av förbudet genom användandet av andra associationsformer och vidarebefordrande av medlen till annan än närstående så som avses i lagens mening.

Rättsföljden vid olagligt lämnande av lån m.m. är fängelse i högst ett år eller böter. Straffansvarets subjekt är primärt företrädare för målbolaget. Straffansvar kan emellertid även aktualiseras för annan medverkande för det fall att denne gjort mer än vad som fordrats för att lånet m.m. ska kunna lämnas. Den civilrättsliga följden är ogiltighet med återbäringsskyldighet samt skadestånd. Härom kan konstateras att mottagarbegreppet inte är helt entydigt samt att det får anses oklart huruvida ogiltigheten medför sakrättsliga verkningar i form av vindikations- och separationsrätt. Gällande skadestånd kan ansvar uppkomma enligt 29 kap. ABL samt 2 kap. 2 § SkL gentemot bolaget samt tredje man.

Målbolagets medverkan till finansieringen av förvärvet regleras även av annan överlappande och kompletterande lagstiftning: närståendelåneförbudet och värdeöverföringsreglerna.

Förbudets tillämplighet på efterföljande lån m.m. synes inte helt klar. Med utgångspunkt i en strikt bokstavstolkning har hävdats att förvärvslåneförbudet inte längre blir tillämpligt sedan aktierna väl har förvärvats. Den etablerade uppfattningen i doktrinen är dock att förvärvslåneförbudets tillämpningsområde bör kunna utsträckas i viss mening utöver vad en strikt bokstavstolkning föranleder. I vilken mån legalitetsprincipen kan frångås till fördel för mer ändamålsbaserade resonemang får emellertid anses oklart. (Less)
Abstract
When acquiring shares in a company the buyer may want the target company to contribute to the financing of the acquisition. The means of such contribution is however limited through a prohibition in Chapter 21 Section 5 of the Companies Act (2005:551) according to which a company may not grant advance, provide loans or provide security for loans (“loans etc.”) in order that the debtor or any natural or legal person connected thereto (“related party”) shall acquire shares in the company or any parent company in the same group. This thesis provides the reader with an analysis of the mentioned prohibition and, when possible, clarifies uncertain aspects regarding the scope of the prohibition in accordance with Swedish law.

As regards the... (More)
When acquiring shares in a company the buyer may want the target company to contribute to the financing of the acquisition. The means of such contribution is however limited through a prohibition in Chapter 21 Section 5 of the Companies Act (2005:551) according to which a company may not grant advance, provide loans or provide security for loans (“loans etc.”) in order that the debtor or any natural or legal person connected thereto (“related party”) shall acquire shares in the company or any parent company in the same group. This thesis provides the reader with an analysis of the mentioned prohibition and, when possible, clarifies uncertain aspects regarding the scope of the prohibition in accordance with Swedish law.

As regards the interpretation of the prohibition, it can be noted that the purpose of the prohibition is to protect the company’s creditors against the undermining of the company’s restricted equity. Nevertheless, the established view amongst legal scholars is that the principle of legality requires that the prohibition is interpreted strictly in accordance with its wording. In the event of a collision between the two, the principle of legality shall in my opinion prevail. However, it cannot be said for sure that the protection of the company’s restricted equity shall not be given greater meaning when interpreting the prohibition than given in this thesis.

Regarding the necessary conditions of the provision the following can be noted. The prohibition requires that the loan etc. has been provided in order that the debtor shall acquire shares in the company. Such acquisition purpose presupposes a causal link between the loan and the acquisition. In this respect the target company’s purpose with the loan shall be the determinant. However, the application of the prohibition does not require that the buyer lacked own ability to finance the acquisition.

In the provision, the terms advance, loan and security have the equivalent meaning as in the established legal terminology. As regards related parties these can most likely be limited to the persons as defined in the Companies Act. The expression ”parent company” shall be deemed to include a parent company in the same group in which the ultimate parent company is a Swedish company. Conclusively, circumvention of the prohibition is possible through the use of other forms of associations and by forwarding funds to other participants not defined as related parties in the Companies Act.

The legal consequence in the event of breach of the provision is fines or terms of imprisonment not exceeding one year. Such penalty shall primarily be imposed on representatives of the target company. Penalties can however also be imposed on other participants, if such persons have done more than necessary in order for the loan etc. to be provided. The civil law consequence is that the loan etc. is invalid and that the recipient shall repay what she or he has received. The term ”recipient” is ambiguous and it is unclear whether such invalidation shall result in restitution and separation rights. As regards participant’s liability for damages, such liability can arise vis-à-vis the company as well as vis-à-vis third party pursuant to Chapter 29 of the Companies Act and Chapter 2 Section 2 of the Liability for Damages Act (1972:207).

In addition, the target company’s contribution to the financing of the acquisition is also subject to other overlapping and additional legislation related to the prohibition against loans to shareholders and the rules of value transfers from the company.

The prohibition’s applicability on loans etc. provided by the target company after an acquisition is not entirely clear. Based on a strictly literal interpretation it has been suggested that the prohibition is no longer applicable after the shares have been acquired. Nevertheless, the established view among legal scholars appears to be that the scope of the prohibition can be somewhat extended beyond what a strictly literal interpretation suggests. To what extent the principle of legality may be waived in favor of protecting the company’s creditors, is however not clear. (Less)
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author
Ekblom, Elsa LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The prohibition on financial assistance - an analysis
course
JURM01 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, civilrätt (en. private law), förvärvslåneförbudet
language
Swedish
id
2862331
date added to LUP
2012-11-01 09:18:29
date last changed
2012-11-01 09:18:29
@misc{2862331,
  abstract     = {When acquiring shares in a company the buyer may want the target company to contribute to the financing of the acquisition. The means of such contribution is however limited through a prohibition in Chapter 21 Section 5 of the Companies Act (2005:551) according to which a company may not grant advance, provide loans or provide security for loans (“loans etc.”) in order that the debtor or any natural or legal person connected thereto (“related party”) shall acquire shares in the company or any parent company in the same group. This thesis provides the reader with an analysis of the mentioned prohibition and, when possible, clarifies uncertain aspects regarding the scope of the prohibition in accordance with Swedish law. 

As regards the interpretation of the prohibition, it can be noted that the purpose of the prohibition is to protect the company’s creditors against the undermining of the company’s restricted equity. Nevertheless, the established view amongst legal scholars is that the principle of legality requires that the prohibition is interpreted strictly in accordance with its wording. In the event of a collision between the two, the principle of legality shall in my opinion prevail. However, it cannot be said for sure that the protection of the company’s restricted equity shall not be given greater meaning when interpreting the prohibition than given in this thesis.

Regarding the necessary conditions of the provision the following can be noted. The prohibition requires that the loan etc. has been provided in order that the debtor shall acquire shares in the company. Such acquisition purpose presupposes a causal link between the loan and the acquisition. In this respect the target company’s purpose with the loan shall be the determinant. However, the application of the prohibition does not require that the buyer lacked own ability to finance the acquisition. 

In the provision, the terms advance, loan and security have the equivalent meaning as in the established legal terminology. As regards related parties these can most likely be limited to the persons as defined in the Companies Act. The expression ”parent company” shall be deemed to include a parent company in the same group in which the ultimate parent company is a Swedish company. Conclusively, circumvention of the prohibition is possible through the use of other forms of associations and by forwarding funds to other participants not defined as related parties in the Companies Act.

The legal consequence in the event of breach of the provision is fines or terms of imprisonment not exceeding one year. Such penalty shall primarily be imposed on representatives of the target company. Penalties can however also be imposed on other participants, if such persons have done more than necessary in order for the loan etc. to be provided. The civil law consequence is that the loan etc. is invalid and that the recipient shall repay what she or he has received. The term ”recipient” is ambiguous and it is unclear whether such invalidation shall result in restitution and separation rights. As regards participant’s liability for damages, such liability can arise vis-à-vis the company as well as vis-à-vis third party pursuant to Chapter 29 of the Companies Act and Chapter 2 Section 2 of the Liability for Damages Act (1972:207). 

In addition, the target company’s contribution to the financing of the acquisition is also subject to other overlapping and additional legislation related to the prohibition against loans to shareholders and the rules of value transfers from the company. 

The prohibition’s applicability on loans etc. provided by the target company after an acquisition is not entirely clear. Based on a strictly literal interpretation it has been suggested that the prohibition is no longer applicable after the shares have been acquired. Nevertheless, the established view among legal scholars appears to be that the scope of the prohibition can be somewhat extended beyond what a strictly literal interpretation suggests. To what extent the principle of legality may be waived in favor of protecting the company’s creditors, is however not clear.},
  author       = {Ekblom, Elsa},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,civilrätt (en. private law),förvärvslåneförbudet},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Förvärvslåneförbudet - en analys},
  year         = {2012},
}