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Inlösenbara preferensaktier: En analys av gränsen mellan aktier och skulder

Lindgren, Elisabeth LU (2014) LAGM01 20142
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
I den här uppsatsen behandlas preferensaktier och fokus ligger på emittenter som är börsnoterade bolag. Utgångspunkten i svensk rätt är den så kallade likhetsprincipen som innebär att alla aktier ska ha samma rätt i bolaget. Undantag från detta kan göras om det finns lagstöd för och om det förs in i bolagsordningen att olika aktieslag får förekomma i bolaget – exempelvis preferensaktier. Preferensaktien är en aktie med villkor om förmån till vissa rättigheter i bolaget. Dessa villkor kan utformas på en mängd olika sätt och exempelvis innebära att preferensaktierna ska lösas in på innehavarens begäran samt att en ränteliknande procentuell ackumulerad avkastning ska erläggas. Bolagen lägger ned mycket arbete på att konstruera villkor som gör... (More)
I den här uppsatsen behandlas preferensaktier och fokus ligger på emittenter som är börsnoterade bolag. Utgångspunkten i svensk rätt är den så kallade likhetsprincipen som innebär att alla aktier ska ha samma rätt i bolaget. Undantag från detta kan göras om det finns lagstöd för och om det förs in i bolagsordningen att olika aktieslag får förekomma i bolaget – exempelvis preferensaktier. Preferensaktien är en aktie med villkor om förmån till vissa rättigheter i bolaget. Dessa villkor kan utformas på en mängd olika sätt och exempelvis innebära att preferensaktierna ska lösas in på innehavarens begäran samt att en ränteliknande procentuell ackumulerad avkastning ska erläggas. Bolagen lägger ned mycket arbete på att konstruera villkor som gör att preferensaktierna utgör eget kapital för emittenten men ändå har skuldegenskaper för att möta investerarnas krav på säker avkastning på investeringen. Många gånger har preferensaktierna därför villkor som gör att de i princip utgör lån.

Preferensaktier kan vara ett effektivt sätt att få finansiering till bolaget, och denna finansieringsform har blivit vanligare i Sverige. Det finns oklarheter kring preferensaktier som bland annat handlar om dess låneliknande egenskaper. Det råder osäkerhet kring hur långt variationen av villkor kan sträcka sig; Var går den bortre gränsen för vilka villkor en aktie kan vara förenad med innan det rör sig om en fordran? Aktier hör till emittentens egna kapital medan skulder hör till främmande kapital. Den civilrättsliga gränsdragningen mellan eget kapital och främmande kapital framgår av NJA 1988 s. 620 och innebär sammanfattningsvis att om en förpliktelse om träffar bolaget och inte bara aktieägarna handlar det om främmande kapital.

Genom EU:s IAS-förordning ska de internationella redovisningsstandarderna IFRS som kommissionen har godkänt tillämpas av de börsnoterade bolagen. En sådan standard är IAS 32 som bland annat behandlar hur preferensaktier ska klassificeras i redovisningen. De börsnoterade bolagen måste tillämpa IAS 32 i koncernredovisningen utan undantag. De börsnoterade moderbolagen ska tillämpa IAS 32 i årsredovisningen med undantag för de bestämmelser som strider mot svensk lag eller god redovisningssed, och övriga bolag får tillämpa IFRS i koncernredovisningen/årsredovisningen men med samma undantag för svenska tvingande bestämmelser. Enligt IAS 32 ska vissa preferensaktier redovisas som skuld. Då aktier enligt ÅRL ska redovisas som eget kapital får preferensaktier endast redovisas som skuld i börsnoterade bolags koncernredovisning. I IAS 32 har det ingen betydelse vad instrumentet betecknas som juridiskt, exempelvis aktie eller lån, utan det är villkoren som avgör klassificeringen. ÅRL däremot följer den civilrättsliga klassificeringen av instrumenten på så sätt att det som utgör en aktie ska redovisas som eget kapital.

Det är av stor vikt att veta vad som utgör eget kapital respektive skuld ur såväl ekonomiskt som rättsligt hänseende. Det har betydelse bland annat för solvensbedömningen, redovisningen och beskattningen. Klassificering av preferensaktier är således av stor vikt för bolagets olika intressenter. Felaktig klassificering kan leda till sanktioner för börsnoterade bolag. Vid allvarliga överträdelser av redovisningsbestämmelser riskerar bolagen avnotering och vite. I ett fall hade ett bolag som skulle tillämpa IAS 32 redovisat preferensaktier som eget kapital med argumentet att vinstutdelning var underkastat bolagsstämmans beslut. Börsen, som är ansvarig för granskningen, menade däremot att de olika villkoren kring preferensaktierna medförde att de skulle redovisas som skuld enligt IAS 32 vilket ledde till att bolaget genomförde vissa ändringar. Beslutet är ett exempel på när den civilrättsliga och redovisningsrättsliga synen på instrumentet går isär och kan få konsekvenser. (Less)
Abstract
This essay is about preferred stocks and focus is on issuers that are companies listed on regulated markets. The main rule in Sweden is the so-called principle of equality, which states that all stocks shall have the same right in the company. Exceptions to this may be made if there are legal grounds for it and if it is entered in the Articles of Association that different classes of stocks may exist in the company – such as preferred stocks. The preferred stock is a stock with terms of preferential access to certain rights in the company. These terms may be formed in a variety of ways and for example mean that the preferred stocks shall be redeemed at the holder’s request and that a percentage accumulated dividend similar to interest... (More)
This essay is about preferred stocks and focus is on issuers that are companies listed on regulated markets. The main rule in Sweden is the so-called principle of equality, which states that all stocks shall have the same right in the company. Exceptions to this may be made if there are legal grounds for it and if it is entered in the Articles of Association that different classes of stocks may exist in the company – such as preferred stocks. The preferred stock is a stock with terms of preferential access to certain rights in the company. These terms may be formed in a variety of ways and for example mean that the preferred stocks shall be redeemed at the holder’s request and that a percentage accumulated dividend similar to interest shall be payable. The companies put a lot of work to construct terms that entails that the preferred stocks constitute equity of the issuer but still have features of debt-instruments to meet the investors’ demands for secure return on the investment. Many times the preferred shares therefor have conditions that in principle constitute loans.

Preferred stocks may be an effective way to get financing to the company, and this form of financing has become more common again in Sweden. There are uncertainties regarding preferred stocks, which among other things have to do with its loan similar features. There is an uncertainty regarding how far the variation of conditions may range; where is the ultimate limit of what conditions a stock may be combined with before it is considered a loan? The private law demarcation between equity and loan capital is shown by NJA 1988 s. 620 and means in summary that if an obligation binds the company and not only the stockholders, it is loan capital.

Through the IAS Regulation, the international financial reporting standards IFRS that the Commission has approved shall be applied by the listed companies. Such a standard is IAS 32, which states how preferred stocks shall be classified in the financial statements. Listed companies must apply IAS 32 to the consolidated financial statements without exception. The listed parent companies shall apply IAS 32 in the Annual Report with the exception of those provisions which are contrary to Swedish law or generally accepted accounting principles, and the other companies may apply IFRS in the consolidated financial statements and/or annual report but with the same exception for Swedish mandatory provisions. According to IAS 32 certain preferred stocks shall be classified as debt. Due to the fact that the Swedish Annual Accounts Act requires that stocks are classified as equity, preferred stocks may only be recognized as liability in listed companies’ consolidated financial statements. In IAS 32 it does not matter what the instrument is designated as legally, for example stock or loan, but it is the conditions that determine the classification. The Swedish Annual Accounts Act however follows the private law classification in such way that what constitutes a stock should be reported as equity.

It is of great importance to know what constitutes equity and debt from both an economic as well as a legal perspective. It matters for instance in the solvency assessment, in the accounting and the taxation. The classification of preferred stocks is thus of great importance to the company’s various stakeholders. Misclassifications can lead to penalties for listed companies. In case of serious violations of accounting rules the companies risk delisting and liquidated damages. In one case, a company that should apply IAS 32 reported preferred stocks as equity arguing that the dividends were subject to the decision of the Annual General meeting. The Stock Exchange, which is responsible for the review, said, however, that the various conditions surrounding the preferred stocks implied that they should be reported as debt under IAS 32, which led to that the company implemented some changes. The decision is an example of when the civil law and the accounting law views on the instrument differ and can have consequences. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Lindgren, Elisabeth LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Redeemable preferred stocks: An analysis of the boundary between stocks and debts
course
LAGM01 20142
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, redovisning, preferensaktier, lån, reglerad marknad
language
Swedish
id
4925561
date added to LUP
2015-01-20 14:32:41
date last changed
2015-01-20 14:32:41
@misc{4925561,
  abstract     = {This essay is about preferred stocks and focus is on issuers that are companies listed on regulated markets. The main rule in Sweden is the so-called principle of equality, which states that all stocks shall have the same right in the company. Exceptions to this may be made if there are legal grounds for it and if it is entered in the Articles of Association that different classes of stocks may exist in the company – such as preferred stocks. The preferred stock is a stock with terms of preferential access to certain rights in the company. These terms may be formed in a variety of ways and for example mean that the preferred stocks shall be redeemed at the holder’s request and that a percentage accumulated dividend similar to interest shall be payable. The companies put a lot of work to construct terms that entails that the preferred stocks constitute equity of the issuer but still have features of debt-instruments to meet the investors’ demands for secure return on the investment. Many times the preferred shares therefor have conditions that in principle constitute loans.

Preferred stocks may be an effective way to get financing to the company, and this form of financing has become more common again in Sweden. There are uncertainties regarding preferred stocks, which among other things have to do with its loan similar features. There is an uncertainty regarding how far the variation of conditions may range; where is the ultimate limit of what conditions a stock may be combined with before it is considered a loan? The private law demarcation between equity and loan capital is shown by NJA 1988 s. 620 and means in summary that if an obligation binds the company and not only the stockholders, it is loan capital.

Through the IAS Regulation, the international financial reporting standards IFRS that the Commission has approved shall be applied by the listed companies. Such a standard is IAS 32, which states how preferred stocks shall be classified in the financial statements. Listed companies must apply IAS 32 to the consolidated financial statements without exception. The listed parent companies shall apply IAS 32 in the Annual Report with the exception of those provisions which are contrary to Swedish law or generally accepted accounting principles, and the other companies may apply IFRS in the consolidated financial statements and/or annual report but with the same exception for Swedish mandatory provisions. According to IAS 32 certain preferred stocks shall be classified as debt. Due to the fact that the Swedish Annual Accounts Act requires that stocks are classified as equity, preferred stocks may only be recognized as liability in listed companies’ consolidated financial statements. In IAS 32 it does not matter what the instrument is designated as legally, for example stock or loan, but it is the conditions that determine the classification. The Swedish Annual Accounts Act however follows the private law classification in such way that what constitutes a stock should be reported as equity.

It is of great importance to know what constitutes equity and debt from both an economic as well as a legal perspective. It matters for instance in the solvency assessment, in the accounting and the taxation. The classification of preferred stocks is thus of great importance to the company’s various stakeholders. Misclassifications can lead to penalties for listed companies. In case of serious violations of accounting rules the companies risk delisting and liquidated damages. In one case, a company that should apply IAS 32 reported preferred stocks as equity arguing that the dividends were subject to the decision of the Annual General meeting. The Stock Exchange, which is responsible for the review, said, however, that the various conditions surrounding the preferred stocks implied that they should be reported as debt under IAS 32, which led to that the company implemented some changes. The decision is an example of when the civil law and the accounting law views on the instrument differ and can have consequences.},
  author       = {Lindgren, Elisabeth},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,redovisning,preferensaktier,lån,reglerad marknad},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Inlösenbara preferensaktier: En analys av gränsen mellan aktier och skulder},
  year         = {2014},
}