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SAFE i Sverige? - Om ett amerikanskt "investeringsdokument" och dess tillämpning inom ramen för gällande svensk rätt

Eliasson, Sofia LU (2017) JURM02 20171
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Aktiebolag är i behov av kapital. Detta beror dels på ett lagstadgat krav om att alla aktiebolag måste inneha ett aktiekapital, dels på att olika affärsprojekt och investeringar kostar pengar. Det finns nackdelar med samtliga befintliga finansieringsalternativ. Av denna anledning utreds i detta arbete, med användande av den rättsdogmatiska metoden, om en alternativ lösning för kapitalanskaffning i aktiebolag kan användas i Sverige inom ramen för gällande lagar och regler. Denna lösning utgörs av ”SAFE”, vilket är en akronym för Simple Agreement for Future Equity.

SAFE utgör ett slags standardiserat ”investeringsdokument” enligt vilket en investerares i ett visst bolag inskjutna kapital konverteras till aktier vid en viss tidpunkt.... (More)
Aktiebolag är i behov av kapital. Detta beror dels på ett lagstadgat krav om att alla aktiebolag måste inneha ett aktiekapital, dels på att olika affärsprojekt och investeringar kostar pengar. Det finns nackdelar med samtliga befintliga finansieringsalternativ. Av denna anledning utreds i detta arbete, med användande av den rättsdogmatiska metoden, om en alternativ lösning för kapitalanskaffning i aktiebolag kan användas i Sverige inom ramen för gällande lagar och regler. Denna lösning utgörs av ”SAFE”, vilket är en akronym för Simple Agreement for Future Equity.

SAFE utgör ett slags standardiserat ”investeringsdokument” enligt vilket en investerares i ett visst bolag inskjutna kapital konverteras till aktier vid en viss tidpunkt. Investeringsdokumenten utvecklades av en amerikansk inkubator och används idag i det praktiska affärslivet i delar av USA. I Sverige borde investeringsdokumenten som juridisk företeelse närmast vara att betrakta som ett civilrättsligt bindande avtal även om dokumenten har egenskaper som är gemensamma med flera andra rättsliga konstruktioner, exempelvis konvertibler. Det är troligt att användande av dokumenten i Sverige skulle vara problematiskt på flera sätt. Det största problemet är förmodligen det faktum att den avtalsfrihet som råder i landet begränsas av tvingande lagbestämmelser.

ABL innehåller många tvingande bestämmelser. Av sådan karaktär är exempelvis flera av de bestämmelser som gäller då ett aktiebolags egna bundna kapital ska öka genom externa medel. Detta medför att det är oklart vilken rättslig verkan vissa av, eller kanske till och med alla, de klausuler som återfinns i ett SAFE skulle få vid en prövning i domstol. Detta medför i sin tur att investeringar som görs på förevarande sätt utgör ett risktagande för investerare liksom för bolag och dess aktieägare.

En annan aspekt av användande av SAFE i Sverige som behandlas i utredningen är hur dokumenten ska tolkas vid svensk domstol. Investeringsdokumenten har troligtvis upprättats mot bakgrund av amerikansk avtalsskrivningstradition och amerikanska avtalstolkningsprinciper. Dessa skiljer sig i stor utsträckning från sina svenska motsvarigheter. Det är därför svårt för svenska domare att veta hur de ska tolka dokumenten. Faktumet att rättsläget avseende tolkning av utländska avtal i allmänhet är oklart, underlättar inte saken. Även i detta avseende innebär användande av investeringsdokumenten följaktligen ett risktagande för investerare liksom för bolag och dess aktieägare.

Sammanfattningsvis innebär investeringar i bolag reglerade genom investeringsdokument av typen SAFE risktaganden, åtminstone så länge ABL:s nuvarande lydelse kvarstår som oförändrad. Tillgodoseendet av ett aktiebolags kapitalbehov är av mycket central vikt för bolaget och dess aktieägare, och det kan därför anses vara olämpligt att tillämpa ett så riskfyllt förfarande. Ur en investerares synvinkel är det knappast önskvärt att investeringar – som till sin natur ofta utgör ett stort risktagande – görs mer riskfyllda än vad de behöver vara. Det är troligtvis inte heller önskvärt att ABL kompletteras eller ändras, eftersom det rådande formkravet vid aktieteckning värnar om flera skyddsvärda intressen. (Less)
Abstract
Limited companies are in need of capital. This is partly due to the statutory requirement that all limited companies must hold a share capital, but also because of the fact that different business projects and investments cost money. The existing financing options all have some disadvantages. As a result, this essay investigates an alternative solution for the raising of capital in limited companies which may be used in Sweden under existing laws and regulations. This alternative solution is made up by “SAFE”, which is an acronym for Simple Agreement for Future Equity. In investigating the use of SAFE, the legal dogmatic method (Swedish: den rättsdogmatiska metoden) is used.

SAFE constitutes a standardized ”investment document”... (More)
Limited companies are in need of capital. This is partly due to the statutory requirement that all limited companies must hold a share capital, but also because of the fact that different business projects and investments cost money. The existing financing options all have some disadvantages. As a result, this essay investigates an alternative solution for the raising of capital in limited companies which may be used in Sweden under existing laws and regulations. This alternative solution is made up by “SAFE”, which is an acronym for Simple Agreement for Future Equity. In investigating the use of SAFE, the legal dogmatic method (Swedish: den rättsdogmatiska metoden) is used.

SAFE constitutes a standardized ”investment document” according to which an investor’s invested capital in a particular company will be converted to shares at a certain time. The investment documents were developed by an American incubator and are used by some Americans in their business practice. In this essay, it is argued that if SAFE were to be implemented as a legal phenomenon in Sweden, it would probably be considered as a legally binding agreement. The investment documents possess several similar characteristics with other legal constructions though, such as convertible notes. It is likely that the use of the documents in Sweden would be problematic in several ways. The biggest problem would probably be the fact that the freedom of contract in this country is limited by mandatory legal provisions.

The Swedish Companies Act contains many provisions that must be respected. For example, several of the provisions which apply when a limited company’s restricted equity is to increase by external funds, are of such nature. This fact causes uncertainty about which legal impact some – or maybe even all – of the clauses in a SAFE would have in a legal proceeding. In turn, this means that investments regulated in investment documents constitutes risks for investors, as well as for companies and their respective shareholders.

In this essay, it is also considered how SAFE should be interpreted by the Swedish courts. The investment documents have probably been created with American contractual writing traditions and interpretation principles in mind. These differ a lot from their Swedish counterparts. Therefore, it is difficult for Swedish judges to know how to interpret the investment documents. The fact that there are uncertainties about how to interpret foreign agreements in general makes it even harder to know how the documents shall be handled by Swedish courts. Consequently, the use of the investment documents constitutes a risk for the investor as well as for the company and its shareholders even in this regard.

In the light of the above factors, investments in companies regulated through a SAFE constitutes major risks, at least as long as the Swedish Companies Act remains unchanged. The fulfillment of a company’s need of capital is of crucial importance to a company and its shareholders, and it may therefore be inappropriate to apply SAFE as it poses a risky procedure. From an investor’s point of view, it is not desirable that investments – which by their nature often constitutes major risks – are made even riskier than they need to be. It would probably not be desirable for the Swedish Companies Act to be supplemented or amended either, as the prevailing formal requirements which applies when subscription for shares is being made, protects several interests which must be considered as worth protecting. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Eliasson, Sofia LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
SAFE in Sweden? - About an American "investment document" and the use of it under the applicable law of Sweden
course
JURM02 20171
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
förmögenhetsrätt, associationsrätt, avtalsrätt
language
Swedish
id
8908919
date added to LUP
2017-06-15 14:50:11
date last changed
2017-06-15 14:50:11
@misc{8908919,
  abstract     = {Limited companies are in need of capital. This is partly due to the statutory requirement that all limited companies must hold a share capital, but also because of the fact that different business projects and investments cost money. The existing financing options all have some disadvantages. As a result, this essay investigates an alternative solution for the raising of capital in limited companies which may be used in Sweden under existing laws and regulations. This alternative solution is made up by “SAFE”, which is an acronym for Simple Agreement for Future Equity. In investigating the use of SAFE, the legal dogmatic method (Swedish: den rättsdogmatiska metoden) is used.

SAFE constitutes a standardized ”investment document” according to which an investor’s invested capital in a particular company will be converted to shares at a certain time. The investment documents were developed by an American incubator and are used by some Americans in their business practice. In this essay, it is argued that if SAFE were to be implemented as a legal phenomenon in Sweden, it would probably be considered as a legally binding agreement. The investment documents possess several similar characteristics with other legal constructions though, such as convertible notes. It is likely that the use of the documents in Sweden would be problematic in several ways. The biggest problem would probably be the fact that the freedom of contract in this country is limited by mandatory legal provisions.
 
The Swedish Companies Act contains many provisions that must be respected. For example, several of the provisions which apply when a limited company’s restricted equity is to increase by external funds, are of such nature. This fact causes uncertainty about which legal impact some – or maybe even all – of the clauses in a SAFE would have in a legal proceeding. In turn, this means that investments regulated in investment documents constitutes risks for investors, as well as for companies and their respective shareholders.

In this essay, it is also considered how SAFE should be interpreted by the Swedish courts. The investment documents have probably been created with American contractual writing traditions and interpretation principles in mind. These differ a lot from their Swedish counterparts. Therefore, it is difficult for Swedish judges to know how to interpret the investment documents. The fact that there are uncertainties about how to interpret foreign agreements in general makes it even harder to know how the documents shall be handled by Swedish courts. Consequently, the use of the investment documents constitutes a risk for the investor as well as for the company and its shareholders even in this regard.

In the light of the above factors, investments in companies regulated through a SAFE constitutes major risks, at least as long as the Swedish Companies Act remains unchanged. The fulfillment of a company’s need of capital is of crucial importance to a company and its shareholders, and it may therefore be inappropriate to apply SAFE as it poses a risky procedure. From an investor’s point of view, it is not desirable that investments – which by their nature often constitutes major risks – are made even riskier than they need to be. It would probably not be desirable for the Swedish Companies Act to be supplemented or amended either, as the prevailing formal requirements which applies when subscription for shares is being made, protects several interests which must be considered as worth protecting.},
  author       = {Eliasson, Sofia},
  keyword      = {förmögenhetsrätt,associationsrätt,avtalsrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {SAFE i Sverige? - Om ett amerikanskt "investeringsdokument" och dess tillämpning inom ramen för gällande svensk rätt},
  year         = {2017},
}