Family Business Succession

It is often said that “succession is a process, not an event”. A carefully thought out and implemented succession plan is key to the continued success of any family business. Families in business often meet conflict between what is right for the family and what is right for the business. Our work over the years with family businesses has shown that careful and sensitive objective advice can often unlock what may at first appear the most intractable problems. Particular issues may differ depending on whether the succession relates to ownership or to management. See “One Family Business – Two Succession Challenges”. It is usually possible and sensible to deal with each separately. With long term planning we can often identify the issues that are likely arise and help devise appropriate strategies to avoid them, so ensuring a well managed and planned hand over from one generation to the next. As with all our work with family businesses we pool the expertise of our Private Wealth and Corporate teams to ensure that strategies we help devise are workable from both perspectives – family and business.

Experience

Our experience in this area includes:
  • Regular liaison with a wide range of family businesses through our family business forums
  • Advising the family on the splitting of a £100m family investment company between two branches; and one of the new companies on subsequent amendments to its constitution particularly having regard to pre-emption rights to preserve continued family ownership
  • Advising a family following the death of a principal shareholder who left his interest equally between three siblings. One of the siblings wanted to exit the business. The other two siblings bought out the third by varying the will to pass non-family-business assets to the exiting sibling, and shares to those who wished to remain involved
  • Advising one member of a family on his options to pursue his own ambitions within the family business in a way that was acceptable to the other family members and commercial objectives of the business as a whole
  • Advising a family business on an ownership and management succession plan, as set out in its Articles of Association and family charter