Don’t Let the Seller’s Liens and Taxes Stalk You

stalking liabilities

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” Fictional mobster Peter Clemenza delivers this famous line in The Godfather after a drive into the country with the godfather’s driver Pauli. The driver betrayed his boss and Clemenza has just meted out justice.

Take the good stuff. Leave the bad stuff. That’s the main idea behind buying a business via an asset purchase. Here are a few pointers so you won’t find yourself pursued by the Seller’s unpaid taxes and liens.

What’s an asset purchase?

There are innumerable ways to structure the purchase of a business, but most deals are either asset purchases or equity purchases. In an equity purchase, the buyer purchases the equity of a company (often referred to as the “target”) from its equity holders — stock in the case of a corporation and membership interests in the case of a limited liability company. The buyer ends up with the entire company, along with all of its assets and all of its liabilities. In a deal structured as an asset purchase, on the other hand, the buyer purchases the company’s assets but leaves the corporate entity behind, along with some or all of the company’s liabilities.

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Asset Sale Vs. Stock Sale: Pros and Cons

how to structure a business acquisition

Although deal lawyers generally describe their practice as involving “mergers and acquisitions,” the sale of a small or medium-sized business is usually structured as either an equity sale or an asset sale. Which structure is right for you depends on your circumstances. This post discusses some of the pros and cons of each deal structure.

Two ways of structuring a business acquisition

In an equity sale, the buyer purchases the equity from the owner or owners of the target company — stock in the case of a corporation and membership interests in the case of a limited liability company. The business is transferred to the new owners, corporate (or limited liability company) entity and all, and the target (i.e., the business being purchased) becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the purchaser. There is no change in the status of the target entity itself, and its contracts, assets, and liabilities remain with the entity.

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