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Målbolagsstyrelsens kompetens i samband med ett takeover-erbjudande

Johnsson, Anna LU (2018) JURM02 20181
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
A takeover bid is a public offer to the shareholders of a listed limited liability company (target company) to acquire all or some of their shares. The board of directors of the target company assumes an important role in the negotiations with the buyer (bidder). Hereby, the board can plausibly influence the launching and implementation of a takeover bid. This thesis examines how the board’s discretion in relation to a takeover bid is limited by norms regarding a board’s competence in Swedish securities law and company law. The method used in this thesis is the legal dogmatic method.

There are no rules under the Swedish Companies Act (2005:551), ABL, that specifically govern the board’s actions in a takeover situation. However, several... (More)
A takeover bid is a public offer to the shareholders of a listed limited liability company (target company) to acquire all or some of their shares. The board of directors of the target company assumes an important role in the negotiations with the buyer (bidder). Hereby, the board can plausibly influence the launching and implementation of a takeover bid. This thesis examines how the board’s discretion in relation to a takeover bid is limited by norms regarding a board’s competence in Swedish securities law and company law. The method used in this thesis is the legal dogmatic method.

There are no rules under the Swedish Companies Act (2005:551), ABL, that specifically govern the board’s actions in a takeover situation. However, several rules and principles in ABL regulate the competence of the board to take actions on behalf of the company. An essential provision is 3 ch. 3 §, which stipulates that the aim of a corporation is to generate profit for distribution among shareholders. Furthermore, the board has a duty to comply with instructions from the general meeting of shareholders. Nevertheless, the board must also respect provisions protecting minority shareholders, such as the general clause in 8 ch. 41 § and the principle of equality in 4 ch. 1 §, as well as provisions protecting creditors, e.g. the principle of coverage in 17 ch. 3 §. Moreover, the board has a duty of loyalty and a duty of care towards the corporation.

The board neutrality rule in 5 ch. 1 § of the Swedish Takeover Act (2006:451), LUA, constitutes the basis for the board’s role in a takeover situation. This provision prevents the board from taking any action that could frustrate the bid (without shareholder approval). Furthermore, the self- regulatory takeover rules state that the board should act in the best interest of the shareholders in matters relating to a takeover bid. Whether this duty entails that the board neutrality rule shall be interpreted in a way that requires the board to facilitate a takeover bid, appears to be uncertain.

A number of questions arise when analysing what impact the board’s competence according to ABL have on its discretion in relation to a takeover bid. One question is how to assess costly takeover related measures with regard to the principle of profit maximation, the scope of business and the principle of coverage. Another question, which is related to the former, is whether the board has a duty to comply with instructions from the general meeting to facilitate or frustrate a takeover bid. Furthermore, there is a question of how the best interest of the company as well as the duty of loyalty and the duty of care should be interpreted in a takeover context. Based on the analysis of these issues it appears that the rules and principles of ABL regarding the board’s competence have a limited impact on the board’s discretion in relation to a takeover bid. Except for cases when there are lawful instructions from the general meeting, it seems to be in rare circumstances that the rules impose a duty for the board to act in a certain way with regard to a takeover bid. In these rare situations it appears to be mainly a duty to refrain from taking actions. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Ett takeover-erbjudande är ett offentligt erbjudande till aktieägarna i ett noterat aktiebolag (målbolag) om att förvärva samtliga eller en del av deras aktier. Styrelsen i målbolaget intar en viktig roll vid förhandlingarna med köparen (budgivaren). Härigenom kan styrelsen potentiellt influera avgivandet eller genomförandet av ett takeover-erbjudande. Denna uppsats undersöker hur styrelsens handlingsfrihet i samband med ett takeover- erbjudande begränsas av normer om styrelsens kompetens i svensk aktiemarknads- och aktiebolagsrätt. I uppsatsen används den rättsdogmatiska metoden.

Det finns inga bestämmelser i aktiebolagslagen (2005:551), ABL, som specifikt reglerar styrelsens agerande i takeover-sammanhang. Flera regler och grundsatser... (More)
Ett takeover-erbjudande är ett offentligt erbjudande till aktieägarna i ett noterat aktiebolag (målbolag) om att förvärva samtliga eller en del av deras aktier. Styrelsen i målbolaget intar en viktig roll vid förhandlingarna med köparen (budgivaren). Härigenom kan styrelsen potentiellt influera avgivandet eller genomförandet av ett takeover-erbjudande. Denna uppsats undersöker hur styrelsens handlingsfrihet i samband med ett takeover- erbjudande begränsas av normer om styrelsens kompetens i svensk aktiemarknads- och aktiebolagsrätt. I uppsatsen används den rättsdogmatiska metoden.

Det finns inga bestämmelser i aktiebolagslagen (2005:551), ABL, som specifikt reglerar styrelsens agerande i takeover-sammanhang. Flera regler och grundsatser i ABL begränsar dock styrelsens kompetens att företa åtgärder för bolagets räkning. Grundläggande är 3 kap. 3 § som stadgar att syftet med ett aktiebolags verksamhet är att ge vinst till fördelning mellan aktieägarna. Vidare har styrelsen en lydnadsplikt gentemot bolagsstämman. Styrelsen har dock även en skyldighet att respektera minoritetsskyddsregler, såsom generalklausulen i 8 kap. 41 § och likhetsprincipen enligt 4 kap. 1 §, samt borgenärsskyddsregler, såsom täckningsprincipen i 17 kap. 3 §. Härtill kommer att styrelsen har en lojalitets- och omsorgsplikt gentemot bolaget.

Styrelseneutralitetsregeln i 5 kap. 1 § lag (2006:451) om offentliga uppköpserbjudanden, LUA, utgör basen för målbolagsstyrelsens roll i en takeover-situation. Regeln förbjuder styrelsen att vidta åtgärder som är ägnade att hindra ett takeover-erbjudande (utan bolagsstämmans godkännande). Vidare anges i börsens takeover-regler att styrelsen har en plikt att agera i aktieägarnas intresse i frågor relaterade till ett takeover- erbjudande. Huruvida denna plikt medför att styrelseneutralitetsregeln ska tolkas på ett sätt som innebär en skyldighet för styrelsen att underlätta för ett takeover-erbjudande framstår som osäkert.

Ett antal frågor väcks vid utredningen av hur styrelsens aktiebolagsrättsliga kompetens inverkar på dess handlingsfrihet vid ett takeover-erbjudande. En fråga är hur kostsamma takeover-relaterade åtgärder ska bedömas med hänsyn till vinstsyftet, verksamhetsföremålet och täckningsprincipen. En annan fråga, som har anknytning till den förra, är om styrelsen är skyldig att följa bolagsstämmoinstruktioner om att försvåra eller underlätta för ett takeover-erbjudande. Vidare väcks frågan om hur bolagsintresset samt styrelsens lojalitets- och omsorgsplikt ska tolkas i takeover-sammanhang. Mot bakgrund av utredningen härom framstår det som att de aktiebolagsrättsliga reglerna om styrelsens kompetens har en begränsad inverkan på styrelsens handlingsfrihet i samband med ett takeover-erbjudande. Frånsett situationer då det finns lagenliga bolagsstämmoinstruktioner, tycks det vara i sällsynta fall som reglerna påför styrelsen en skyldighet att agera på ett visst sätt i förhållande till ett takeover-erbjudande. I dessa fall verkar det främst röra sig om en skyldighet att avstå från att vidta åtgärder. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Johnsson, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The competence of the board of directors in relation to a takeover bid
course
JURM02 20181
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Associationsrätt, Styrelsen, Takeover, Kompetens
language
Swedish
id
8941242
date added to LUP
2018-06-11 13:12:05
date last changed
2018-06-11 13:12:05
@misc{8941242,
  abstract     = {A takeover bid is a public offer to the shareholders of a listed limited liability company (target company) to acquire all or some of their shares. The board of directors of the target company assumes an important role in the negotiations with the buyer (bidder). Hereby, the board can plausibly influence the launching and implementation of a takeover bid. This thesis examines how the board’s discretion in relation to a takeover bid is limited by norms regarding a board’s competence in Swedish securities law and company law. The method used in this thesis is the legal dogmatic method.

There are no rules under the Swedish Companies Act (2005:551), ABL, that specifically govern the board’s actions in a takeover situation. However, several rules and principles in ABL regulate the competence of the board to take actions on behalf of the company. An essential provision is 3 ch. 3 §, which stipulates that the aim of a corporation is to generate profit for distribution among shareholders. Furthermore, the board has a duty to comply with instructions from the general meeting of shareholders. Nevertheless, the board must also respect provisions protecting minority shareholders, such as the general clause in 8 ch. 41 § and the principle of equality in 4 ch. 1 §, as well as provisions protecting creditors, e.g. the principle of coverage in 17 ch. 3 §. Moreover, the board has a duty of loyalty and a duty of care towards the corporation.

The board neutrality rule in 5 ch. 1 § of the Swedish Takeover Act (2006:451), LUA, constitutes the basis for the board’s role in a takeover situation. This provision prevents the board from taking any action that could frustrate the bid (without shareholder approval). Furthermore, the self- regulatory takeover rules state that the board should act in the best interest of the shareholders in matters relating to a takeover bid. Whether this duty entails that the board neutrality rule shall be interpreted in a way that requires the board to facilitate a takeover bid, appears to be uncertain.

A number of questions arise when analysing what impact the board’s competence according to ABL have on its discretion in relation to a takeover bid. One question is how to assess costly takeover related measures with regard to the principle of profit maximation, the scope of business and the principle of coverage. Another question, which is related to the former, is whether the board has a duty to comply with instructions from the general meeting to facilitate or frustrate a takeover bid. Furthermore, there is a question of how the best interest of the company as well as the duty of loyalty and the duty of care should be interpreted in a takeover context. Based on the analysis of these issues it appears that the rules and principles of ABL regarding the board’s competence have a limited impact on the board’s discretion in relation to a takeover bid. Except for cases when there are lawful instructions from the general meeting, it seems to be in rare circumstances that the rules impose a duty for the board to act in a certain way with regard to a takeover bid. In these rare situations it appears to be mainly a duty to refrain from taking actions.},
  author       = {Johnsson, Anna},
  keyword      = {Associationsrätt,Styrelsen,Takeover,Kompetens},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Målbolagsstyrelsens kompetens i samband med ett takeover-erbjudande},
  year         = {2018},
}