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Aktieägare eller styrelsen – vem bestämmer? - En analys av styrelsens lydnadsplikt i förhållande till bolagsstämman med särskilt fokus på svenska offentliga uppköpssituationer

Svanberg, Martin LU (2018) JURM02 20181
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
The board of directors is subordinated to the shareholders’ meeting as a result of limited liability company’s having a hierarchical organisational structure. This hierarchical organisational structure in combination with the provisions in Chapter 8 Section 41 second paragraph in the Swedish Company Act (“SCA”) e contrario means that the board of directors has a duty of obedience to resolutions by the shareholders’ meeting. This thesis examines the board of directors possibilities to refuse implementation of a resolution pursuant to the SCA and if these possibilities differ in connection with a public takeover situation due to the applicable regulation of takeovers. In particular since questions regarding the board of directors’ duty of... (More)
The board of directors is subordinated to the shareholders’ meeting as a result of limited liability company’s having a hierarchical organisational structure. This hierarchical organisational structure in combination with the provisions in Chapter 8 Section 41 second paragraph in the Swedish Company Act (“SCA”) e contrario means that the board of directors has a duty of obedience to resolutions by the shareholders’ meeting. This thesis examines the board of directors possibilities to refuse implementation of a resolution pursuant to the SCA and if these possibilities differ in connection with a public takeover situation due to the applicable regulation of takeovers. In particular since questions regarding the board of directors’ duty of obedience were raised in the public takeover battle of Haldex AB.

The board of directors may refuse to implement a resolution by the shareholders’ meeting if it is void as being in violation of the SCA, the Annual Reports Act or the articles of association. A resolution that contravenes the SCA may nevertheless be implemented, if the resolution becomes valid as a result of no legal action being brought challenging the resolution within three months. However, nullity resolutions may, as a starting point, never be implemented. Therefore, the board of directors must examine whether the resolution was passed with all shareholders’ consent and which rule or rules that is likely to be contravened. In addition, the board of directors may not implement a resolution that contravenes criminal law, and probably not a resolution that contravenes good practices. Even though refusal to implement resolutions that contravenes good practices, as with resolutions that contravene other legislation, probably needs to be based on the exception for resolutions which manifestly are contrary to the company’s interests. The board of directors may not implement a resolution which prevents them from acting in the manner that the SCA implies. Depending on the knowledge of the shareholder’s meeting and the resolutions harmfulness, the board of directors may refuse to implement a resolution that violates a contractual obligation.

An offeree company in a public takeover situation must follow certain regulations for listed companies, such as the Swedish takeover rules. As shown in the case of Haldex, the board of the offeree company must do the same assessment as in a private company. However, for resolutions that contravenes the takeover rules but not the SCA, the board of directors could only refuse to implement such a resolution based on the exception that it manifestly are contrary to the company’s interests. Since violations of the takeover rules may impose sanctions on the offeree, the board of directors could refuse to implement such a resolution. If the resolution also contravenes a provision in the SCA, the takeover rules affect the board of directors’ duty of obedience in such a way that it indicates that they should have a right to refuse implementation of that resolution. Finally, the current legal situation is criticized and proposals de lege ferenda are presented. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Styrelsen är underordnad bolagsstämman till följd av aktiebolagets hierarkiska organisationsstruktur. Denna hierarkiska organisationsstruktur i kombination med 8 kap. 41 § andra stycket ABL e contrario innebär att styrelsen har en lydnadsplikt gentemot bolagsstämmans beslut. I framställningen undersöks vilka möjligheter styrelsen har att vägra verkställighet av ett bolagsstämmobeslut enligt aktiebolagsrätten samt om dessa möjligheter förändras i samband med en offentlig uppköpssituation genom det tillkommande takeover-rättsliga regelverket. Framförallt eftersom frågor avseende styrelsens lydnadsplikt väckts i den offentliga budstriden om Haldex AB.

Styrelsen kan vägra att verkställa ett bolagsstämmobeslut som är ogiltigt utifrån ABL,... (More)
Styrelsen är underordnad bolagsstämman till följd av aktiebolagets hierarkiska organisationsstruktur. Denna hierarkiska organisationsstruktur i kombination med 8 kap. 41 § andra stycket ABL e contrario innebär att styrelsen har en lydnadsplikt gentemot bolagsstämmans beslut. I framställningen undersöks vilka möjligheter styrelsen har att vägra verkställighet av ett bolagsstämmobeslut enligt aktiebolagsrätten samt om dessa möjligheter förändras i samband med en offentlig uppköpssituation genom det tillkommande takeover-rättsliga regelverket. Framförallt eftersom frågor avseende styrelsens lydnadsplikt väckts i den offentliga budstriden om Haldex AB.

Styrelsen kan vägra att verkställa ett bolagsstämmobeslut som är ogiltigt utifrån ABL, ÅRL eller bolagsordningen. Ett beslut som strider mot ABL får likväl verkställas, om beslutet blir gällande till följd av att det inte klandrats inom en klanderfrist om tre månader. Detta gäller inte nullitetsbeslut, vilka som utgångspunkt aldrig får verkställas. Styrelsen måste därför se till om bolagsstämmobeslutet är fattat med samtliga aktieägares samtycke, samt vilken eller vilka regler som riskerar att överträdas. Vidare får styrelsen inte verkställa ett bolagsstämmobeslut som strider mot straffrättslig lagstiftning, och förmodligen inte om det strider mot goda seder. Även om bolagsstämmobeslut i strid med goda seder, likt bolagsstämmobeslut i strid med annan lagstiftning, förmodligen får vägras verkställighet baserat på undantaget för beslut som uppenbart strider mot bolagets intresse. Styrelsen får inte heller verkställa ett bolagsstämmobeslut som innebär att styrelsen hindras från att agera på det sätt som ABL förutsätter. Beroende på bolagsstämmans vetskap samt beslutets skadlighet, kan styrelsen vägra verkställighet av ett beslut som innebär att en kontraktsrättslig förpliktelse bryts.

Ett målbolag i samband med en offentlig uppköpssituation måste även följa viss aktiemarknadsrättslig reglering, till exempel takeover-reglerna. Som visat i fallet med Haldex, måste målbolagsstyrelsen göra samma bedömning som i ett privat aktiebolag. För bolagsstämmobeslut som strider mot takeover-reglerna men inte ABL, förändras dock styrelsens möjligheter att vägra verkställighet på så sätt att undantaget för beslut som uppenbart strider mot bolagets intresse enbart finns att tillgå. Eftersom överträdelser av takeover-reglerna riskerar att ådra målbolaget sanktioner, skulle styrelsen kunna vägra verkställighet av beslutet. Om beslutet även strider mot någon bestämmelse i ABL, påverkar takeover-reglerna styrelsens lydnadsplikt på så sätt att det talar för att beslutet skulle få vägras verkställighet. Avslutningsvis kritiseras rådande rättsläge och förslag de lege ferenda förs fram. (Less)
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author
Svanberg, Martin LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Shareholders or the board of directors – who decides? - An analysis of the board of directors' duty of obedience to the shareholders' meeting with particular focus on Swedish takeover situations
course
JURM02 20181
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, aktiebolagsrätt, aktiemarknadsrätt, styrelsens lydnadsplikt, lydnadsplikt, offentlig uppköpssituation, uppköpssituation, takeover, takeover-reglerna, Haldex
language
Swedish
id
8940948
date added to LUP
2018-06-10 15:31:57
date last changed
2018-06-10 15:31:57
@misc{8940948,
  abstract     = {The board of directors is subordinated to the shareholders’ meeting as a result of limited liability company’s having a hierarchical organisational structure. This hierarchical organisational structure in combination with the provisions in Chapter 8 Section 41 second paragraph in the Swedish Company Act (“SCA”) e contrario means that the board of directors has a duty of obedience to resolutions by the shareholders’ meeting. This thesis examines the board of directors possibilities to refuse implementation of a resolution pursuant to the SCA and if these possibilities differ in connection with a public takeover situation due to the applicable regulation of takeovers. In particular since questions regarding the board of directors’ duty of obedience were raised in the public takeover battle of Haldex AB.

The board of directors may refuse to implement a resolution by the shareholders’ meeting if it is void as being in violation of the SCA, the Annual Reports Act or the articles of association. A resolution that contravenes the SCA may nevertheless be implemented, if the resolution becomes valid as a result of no legal action being brought challenging the resolution within three months. However, nullity resolutions may, as a starting point, never be implemented. Therefore, the board of directors must examine whether the resolution was passed with all shareholders’ consent and which rule or rules that is likely to be contravened. In addition, the board of directors may not implement a resolution that contravenes criminal law, and probably not a resolution that contravenes good practices. Even though refusal to implement resolutions that contravenes good practices, as with resolutions that contravene other legislation, probably needs to be based on the exception for resolutions which manifestly are contrary to the company’s interests. The board of directors may not implement a resolution which prevents them from acting in the manner that the SCA implies. Depending on the knowledge of the shareholder’s meeting and the resolutions harmfulness, the board of directors may refuse to implement a resolution that violates a contractual obligation.

An offeree company in a public takeover situation must follow certain regulations for listed companies, such as the Swedish takeover rules. As shown in the case of Haldex, the board of the offeree company must do the same assessment as in a private company. However, for resolutions that contravenes the takeover rules but not the SCA, the board of directors could only refuse to implement such a resolution based on the exception that it manifestly are contrary to the company’s interests. Since violations of the takeover rules may impose sanctions on the offeree, the board of directors could refuse to implement such a resolution. If the resolution also contravenes a provision in the SCA, the takeover rules affect the board of directors’ duty of obedience in such a way that it indicates that they should have a right to refuse implementation of that resolution. Finally, the current legal situation is criticized and proposals de lege ferenda are presented.},
  author       = {Svanberg, Martin},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,aktiebolagsrätt,aktiemarknadsrätt,styrelsens lydnadsplikt,lydnadsplikt,offentlig uppköpssituation,uppköpssituation,takeover,takeover-reglerna,Haldex},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Aktieägare eller styrelsen – vem bestämmer? - En analys av styrelsens lydnadsplikt i förhållande till bolagsstämman med särskilt fokus på svenska offentliga uppköpssituationer},
  year         = {2018},
}