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A demerger is a separation of different business activities carried on by a company or group into separate companies or groups which are then (usually) owned by the same shareholders. Our Corporate Commercial team have substantial experience in advising on and carrying out demergers.

Why Carry Out a Demerger?

Companies and groups demerge for various reasons but an increase in shareholder value will usually be the intended aim. Reasons to demerge include:

  • Dividing a company or group between shareholders in dispute;
  • Separating successful businesses from struggling businesses;
  • Releasing the full value of underlying businesses;
  • Separating businesses between different business sectors;
  • Freeing one business from the regulatory or financial requirements imposed due to another business;
  • Inability to sell a business (which can be demerged instead); and
  • Dividing a jointly owned group.

Types of Demerger

There are several methods of effecting a demerger, each one having its own advantages and disadvantages. The method chosen will usually be influenced by tax considerations and by the availability of distributable profits in the company.

We can provide assistance in choosing the correct structure of the demerger. The main ways of structuring a demerger are set out below:

Direct dividend

The parent company declares a dividend in specie (i.e. a distribution of assets rather than cash) of the shares of the subsidiary to be demerged, as a result of which ownership transfers from the parent company to its shareholders. This is not usually used to demerge a business as it constitutes an income distribution attracting income tax treatment.

Indirect or three cornered dividend

The parent company declares a dividend in specie of the shares of the subsidiary (or of the assets of a business) to be demerged to a newco (or existing third party company) and the newco/third party subsequently issues shares to the parent company’s shareholders. If structured correctly a three cornered dividend can qualify as a scheme of reconstruction, which may offer substantial tax relief advantages over a direct dividend structure.

Indirect or three cornered reduction of capital

The parent company carries out a reduction of share capital which is satisfied by the transfer of the business to be demerged to either the parent’s shareholders or a newco which then issues shares to the parent’s shareholders. This can be used where a company does not have sufficient distributable profits to declare a dividend in specie or does not want to reduce its distributable reserves.

Scheme of arrangement

A court approved procedure under Part 26 of the Companies Act 2006 which is carried out with shareholder consent and (frequently) creditor approval to make a compromise or arrangement with the members or creditors of the parent company. This is often used in combination with the direct dividend, three cornered dividend, three cornered reduction of capital and/or a liquidation scheme.

Liquidation scheme

The parent company is liquidated under section 110 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and its assets are transferred to two (or more) newcos. The liquidator accepts the shares in the newcos as consideration for the transfer of the assets to the newcos and then distributes the shares to the parent’s shareholders pursuant to the parent’s winding-up.

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Our Approach & Our Experience

We provide practical, commercial and coherent advice and are able to deliver a complete service with support from our Property, Employment, Commercial, Dispute Resolution and Private Client teams.

Our ethos is to provide our clients with an alternative to the major regional and national firms by offering high quality legal advice from highly experienced, specialist solicitors, but on a much more cost-effective basis.

Our team of Corporate Solicitors are ranked Top Tier - Tier 1 by the independent Legal 500 directory.  In addition, Partners in our team are recommended by the Legal 500.  Therefore, you can be reassured that you will deal with some of the best Commercial Solicitors in the country.

We work closely with our clients to ensure that we meet their expectations both in terms of their objectives for a particular piece of work and in relation to costs. We are easy to deal with, clear in our advice and understand that a common sense approach is often required. As standard practice, we give our clients an estimate of the costs involved in undertaking any piece of work at the outset. We can then provide costs updates on a regular basis. In addition, where appropriate, we are happy to discuss other pricing models (for example, fixed fees) if that is helpful to you.

We have recently acted for a Newco registered care provider in relation to a demerger of a registered care home. This involved a detailed understanding of the tax implications/requirements of a demerger effected by a distribution in specie followed by a buy-back of shares.

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Our Promise & Core Values

Our Promise

The Myerson Promise - Our Partners, team of lawyers and support staff commit to giving our clients more.

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To always give you clear, jargon-free advice.
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To be completely transparent about our fees from the outset.
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Progress every matter in an efficient and timely matter.

Our Core Values

Our core values are at the centre of everything we do.

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We are always professional but ensure that we are friendly and approachable.
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We are determined and enthusiastic about supporting our clients and our people.
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We willingly take responsibility and can be relied on to be commercial, effective and efficient.

Meet Our In-House Specialists

We offer a range of specialist legal services tailored to meet the needs of our varied clients.

Mohammed Akeel Latif

Mohammed Akeel Latif

Akeel is a Partner and Head of the Corporate Commercial department at Myerson.

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown

Andrew is a Partner in our Corporate Commercial department.

Scott Sands

Scott Sands

Scott is a Partner in our Corporate and Commercial department

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