Corporate Finance/M&A, Switzerland updates

Private mergers and reorganisations
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 12 June 2019

Under Swiss law, the acquisition of a business may be structured as a mere share deal, a mere asset deal or – according to the Merger Act – a statutory merger, demerger or bulk transfer. This article outlines the private law aspects of private statutory mergers and distinguishes between domestic and cross-border statutory mergers.

Approvals for share deals in Switzerland
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 30 January 2019

Sale and purchase transactions with respect to privately held companies in Switzerland are usually structured as share or asset deals or, in certain cases, bulk transfers or mergers. This article provides an overview of the approvals and authorisations that might be required with respect to a share deal in Switzerland. In particular, it focuses on the laws regulating foreign investments in Switzerland and summarises their key characteristics.

Opting-out clauses in Swiss takeover law
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 01 August 2018

The Takeover Board recently assessed whether adopting an opting-out clause which will apply only to two specific investors and only for a period of five years is permissible from a takeover law perspective. In its decision, the Takeover Board confirmed its case law on selective opting-out clauses. However, there is still considerable legal uncertainty in this area.

Competing public offers in Switzerland – recent case law
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 18 April 2018

Public takeover offers are regarded as competing offers if, at the time of their publication, another offer in relation to the target has already been launched. To guarantee freedom of choice of the recipients of the offers, and to avoid the sequence of offers influencing the shareholders' decision, the law sets forth specific rules for competing offers. In the recent LifeWatch case, the Takeover Board took its position on issues relating to multiple offerors.

Legal framework for group financings under Swiss law
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 13 December 2017

Switzerland recently decided to facilitate the financing activities of groups operating in or out of Switzerland by easing some restrictions under the Withholding Tax Ordinance. The amendment of the ordinance is meant to strengthen the establishment of headquarter activities with further central corporate functions, as well as treasury activities, particularly those performed outside Switzerland.

Permitted conditions for public offers in Switzerland
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 05 July 2017

In a recent case regarding the takeover of Actelion by Johnson & Johnson, the Takeover Board expanded its case law on the permissibility of conditions in public takeover offers. In this case, the Takeover Board had to assess whether the implementation of a demerger of a business division from the target constituted a permissible condition within a public offer.

MAC clauses in Swiss M&A transactions
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 03 May 2017

The completion of larger M&A transactions is usually conditional on the absence of material adverse changes (MAC). This can be achieved by including either a MAC clause or a condition that all warranties must be true at completion in combination with a warranty confirming the absence of a MAC. A MAC clause defines what is deemed to be a MAC of the target company and entitles the acquirer to step back from the proposed transaction in case a MAC event has occurred or is alleged to have occurred.

Settlement of target equity award programmes in view of best-price rule
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 12 October 2016

In a recent Takeover Board case, the offeror filed a request with the board for approval that it should – before the distribution of the special dividend – have the right to acquire shares outside the offer without triggering the best-price rule. In its decision, the board stressed the importance of the offer price as a reference for the best-price rule and held that any acquisition of shares for a consideration above the offer price would violate the rule.

Valuation of privileged voting shares in a public offer
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 13 July 2016

The Takeover Board has reviewed the methods of valuing different share categories of a target and the monetary value of additional covenants and obligations entered into by a shareholder. The decision is relevant for the interpretation of similar provisions under the Merger Act, requiring equal treatment of shareholders in the context of a merger, demerger or conversion.

Hostile tender offers under public takeover law
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 29 June 2016

Swiss M&A transactions involving public companies are mainly governed by the Financial Market Infrastructure Act, which replaced the former Federal Act on Stock Exchanges and Securities Trading. This regulates both friendly and hostile public takeovers for Swiss resident companies with at least one class of equity security listed on a Swiss exchange, and for foreign resident companies whose shares are mainly listed on a Swiss exchange.

Revised disclosure rules for significant shareholdings
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 06 April 2016

On January 1 2016 revised regulations for the disclosure of significant shareholdings in listed companies and amendments to takeover regulations took effect. The new regulatory framework regulates key market infrastructures and incorporates many former provisions of the Stock Exchange Act, including those on public takeovers and those relating to the disclosure of significant interests in listed companies.

Management incentives in public takeovers
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 23 March 2016

In the context of a friendly public offer, the bidder will usually seek to enter into a transaction agreement with the target. Such a transaction agreement customarily includes provisions regarding the continuance of the contractual relationship between the target and its management, as well as the (dis)continuance of certain target board members' mandates as per the settlement of the public offer.

Act leads to amendments of public takeover law
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 24 February 2016

The Federal Council recently enacted the Financial Market Infrastructure Act. While the act requires the formal alignment of the Takeover Ordinance with the provisions relating to takeovers, the amended ordinance brings substantive changes. By implementing these changes, the Takeover Board acknowledges that electronic publication has become the standard procedure for disseminating important financial information.

New rules for publication of documents relating to public tender offers
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 10 February 2016

An amendment of the Ordinance of the Takeover Board on Public Takeover Offers has entered into force, abolishing the requirement that announcements and notices relating to a public offer be physically published in newspapers. Consequently, the Takeover Board has issued guidance on the newly applicable rules for the publication of the offer documents.

Validity of opt-out clauses: Takeover Board issues decisions in Sika battle
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 15 April 2015

Two recent Takeover Board decisions have determined the validity of an opt-out clause in the Sika takeover. The board had to ascertain the validity of an opt-out clause in Sika's articles of association and determine whether the opt-out clause applied in the contested acquisition by Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA.

Relevance of Minder Initiative to M&A transactions
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 11 March 2015

In March 2013 the Swiss voting population approved the fiercely debated 'Rip-off Initiative', originally launched in 2008 by Thomas Minder. Its incorporation into national law is now ongoing. It remains to be seen how this will affect public M&A transactions involving Swiss corporations with publicly listed shares. The consequences are extensive and company boards should carefully consider the implications.

Acquisitions facilitated by revised restructuring provisions
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 05 March 2014

Amendments to the Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Act and the Code of Obligations recently entered into force, increasing the attractiveness of acquisitions of distressed businesses and facilitating restructurings. The revised law makes composition proceedings more attractive for both the company and a potential acquirer. For a company in distress, the new law makes it easier to overcome legal hurdles.

Rules applicable to buy-back programmes
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 22 January 2014

The Takeover Board recently modified Circular 1 regarding buy-back programmes. The revised circular brings, in particular, some changes to the reporting and publication procedure. It is therefore important that all existing buy-back programmes take the revised circular into account.

Continuation of past practice regarding introduction of opt-out clauses
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 28 August 2013

The Takeover Board's practice regarding the evaluation of the validity of an opt-out clause has recently undergone several changes. Transparency requirements must now be met not only at the shareholders' meeting itself, but also with regard to the information provided in the invitation to the meeting, so that the shareholders can understand the reason for, and the effects of, the opt-out clause.

Implementation of Federal Administrative Court decision on Quadrant
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Switzerland
  • 03 July 2013

In November 2010 the Federal Administrative Court handed down a decision in a public takeover matter as a result of an amendment in the regulatory framework governing public takeovers. The court rejected part of the Takeover Board's previous decisions. As a result, the board had to reassess numerous issues, and recently handed down its decision regarding the adequacy of the share price offered to the public shareholders.

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