Goodwill Hunting: The Value, Protections and Role of Intangible Assets in M&A Transactions

We have previously discussed goodwill as a distinct asset in purchase agreements.  In this post, we explore the growing value of goodwill and other intangible assets in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and the legal issues parties should consider when seeking to value, protect and exploit these assets.

Intangible assets are often the most significant portion of a target company’s value and goodwill alone can be a very significant portion of a target’s purchase price. For example, in Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, approximately 70% of the purchase price was allocated to goodwill. Although goodwill and intangible assets each … Continue Reading

Digital Taxation – Novel Considerations in M&A Transactions

Digital taxes have become a subject of significant debate in recent years. Following allegations that tech giants have paid very little tax anywhere in the world, some countries have moved to impose new taxes on profits derived from digital services provided by multinational enterprises on a jurisdiction-specific basis. For instance, France recently adopted a digital services tax of 3% per annum applicable to the portion of revenue that digital companies derive in France. Similarly, as of April 1, 2020, the UK imposed a 2% per annum tax on the revenue of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces that … Continue Reading

Proposed Amendments to Ontario’s Business Corporations Act: Relaxed Corporate Governance Requirements May Make Ontario an Attractive Jurisdiction

On October 6, 2020, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 213, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2020 (“Bill 213) to support the province’s economic recovery and reduce barriers to doing business in Ontario. If it passes, Bill 213 would bring important changes to the Ontario Business Corporations Act (“OBCA”) that, among other things, will:

  • Remove the director residency requirements for private and public OBCA corporations; and
  • Lower the threshold for passing written, ordinary resolutions for privately-held OBCA corporations

Removal of Director Residency Requirements

Currently, the OBCA requires that at least 25% of the … Continue Reading

Post-Closing Adjustments

Previously, we wrote about the use of earn-outs as a means by which buyers mitigate the risk of a target’s post-closing under-performance by holding back part of the purchase price and paying it out as the target meets certain financial targets.  In this post, we examine a related topic that is often confused with earn-outs but in fact is a separate tool in a deal-maker’s kit: post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

Unlike an earn-out where parties look to the future performance of an acquired business, a balance sheet adjustment is the parties’ opportunity to draw comparisons between the business as it … Continue Reading

The Dynamic Duo: Cyber-security and Due Diligence during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (“pandemic”) continues to highlight the several ways in which M&A transactions have had to adapt to changing times, particularly by ramping up cyber-security measures in a digital world. Prior to the pandemic, there already existed a shift towards cyber-security due diligence since many businesses relied on digital assets. As a result, increased protection was paramount since a deficiency in the cyber-security measures of a target could lead to potential liability on the part of the buyer, after the transaction had closed.

Another Shift Caused By The Pandemic

The pandemic forced many … Continue Reading

Shareholder Loans: The Interplay of 80.4, 15(2) and 20(1)(j) of the Income Tax Act

Subject to certain exceptions, where a shareholder (other than a corporation resident in Canada) of a corporation is indebted to the corporation (a “Shareholder Loan”), the shareholder is deemed by subsection 80.4(2) to receive an interest benefit to the extent that the notional interest on the Shareholder Loan, calculated at the prescribed rate, exceeds the interest actually owing and paid. However, for a Shareholder Loan that was included in computing the income of a person under Part I of the Income Tax Act (for example under subsection 15(2)), paragraph 80.4(3)(b) provides that no subsection 80.4(2) interest benefit is … Continue Reading

What’s the Alternative?: The Rise of Alternative M&A Deals in a Post-COVID World

Mergers and acquisitions activity was already off to a slow start when 2020 began, but the COVID-19 pandemic (the “Pandemic”) initially resulted in a further decline in the volume of M&A activity. This was due in part to the economic and commercial uncertainties and market volatility for buyers and sellers alike, which made it difficult for companies to conduct business as usual. However, it looks like M&A activity has picked up again with gusto. In an earlier post, we reported that in a global survey of 2,900 C-suite executives, more than half of them reported that they … Continue Reading

The Smart Choice: A Predictive View in Revamping M&A Contracts

The current pandemic presents a unique opportunity to revitalize traditional M&A process and provisions. While we have previously addressed how traditional M&A provisions are impacted by the pandemic, this blog post will explore the key opportunity industries and corporations alike have in improving contractual processes. Specifically, through the use of blockchain technology and smart contracts.

Smart Contract 101

First proposed thirty years ago by computer scientist Nick Szabo who coined the term, smart contracts are drafted using programming languages and software and can be made legally enforceable and binding for all parties involved.  In recent years, smart contracts have been … Continue Reading

M&A Opportunities in the COVID-19 Digital Transformation

While the COVID-19 pandemic initially had a general chilling effect on merger and acquisition (“M&A”) activity, we have seen an increase in M&A activity recently, particularly as industries rapidly adapt to the new environment and consider opportunities. Both consumer preferences and business models have been forced to change quickly due to the circumstances of the pandemic. This period of transformation provides opportunity for those investors and businesses who are able to efficiently adapt and take advantage of the new trends.

Increased Demand for At-Home Services:

The pandemic has transformed consumer preferences which has created tremendous potential for certain … Continue Reading

Speaking the portability language: How portability clauses are helping debt-laden companies enter into M&A transactions

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented social and economic ramifications, including a decline in M&A activity in Canada. The pandemic has also brought in changes to the way agreements are being drafted in light of what has become our new normal. Earlier, we reported that the pandemic has led to an increased focus on earn-out provisions in both existing and new M&A deals. A recent trend also emerged in lending transactions, where lenders are agreeing to include portability language in loan documents, which may remove an obstacle for private equity groups that are looking … Continue Reading

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