Minority Investor Rights in Private Companies: Buy-Sell Agreements, Court-Ordered Buyouts, Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Thursday, January 20, 2022

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE webinar will discuss the rights of minority investors in private companies who seek to secure a buyout of their ownership stake. The panel will examine what minority investors should demand in a buy-sell before investing and what claims by minority owners against majority owners for misconduct are most successful. The panel will discuss best practices for minority investors in documenting their rights and obligations when forming private companies.

Description

As a general rule, unless the written agreements state otherwise, a minority owner has only three basic rights in a closely held company: (1) the right to vote for the board of directors (in the case of a corporation) or the manager (in the case of an LLC); (2) the right to review the books and records of the company upon request; and (3) the right to receive dividends or profit distributions from the company if they are declared.

When minority owners have claims for misconduct by majority owners, these claims most commonly include (1) breach of contract, (2) fraud, and (3) breach of fiduciary duty. Typically, these common law causes of action do not permit the trial court to award the minority owner with the remedy of a buyout of their minority interest. While some states have enacted statutes that permit an oppressed minority owner to seek equitable remedies, including a buyout at fair value, the remedy for these claims is typically the recovery of actual damages.

The best advice for minority investors is simply this: before investing in a private business, minority owners should try to negotiate for rights including a buy-sell agreement with a put option. A buy-sell contract often provides investors with the right to obtain a buyout of their minority ownership interest in the company at a future time, under certain circumstances, and often at a predetermined valuation.

Listen as our expert panel discusses minority owner rights in private companies, what to include in a buy-sell agreement before investing, and best practices when considering a claim against majority ownership.

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Outline

  1. Private company regulation
  2. Rights of minority owners
  3. Limitations on claims by minority owners
  4. Buy-sell agreements
  5. Best practices

Benefits

The panel will discuss these and other key issues:

  • What rights do minority investors have in private companies?
  • When should a minority owner consider a claim against majority owners?
  • Can minority investors force a buyout?
  • What should be included in a buy-sell before investing by minority investors in private companies?

Faculty

Johnson, David
David Fowler Johnson

Managing Shareholder/Fort Worth Office
Winstead

Mr. Johnson maintains an active trial and appellate practice and has consistently worked on financial institution...  |  Read More

Mahler, Peter
Peter A. Mahler

Partner
Farrell Fritz

Mr. Mahler’s litigation practice concentrates on corporate dissolution proceedings, contested stock valuations,...  |  Read More

Sluka, Peter
Peter J. Sluka

Counsel
Farrell Fritz

Mr. Sluka represents a broad range of individuals and entities in all phases of complex commercial litigation,...  |  Read More

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