Selling a privately held business is often romanticized as face-to-face negotiations over business valuations and purchase price. Whether small or large, business transactions can be extremely complex and require a great deal of work behind the scenes. As the size and/or complexity of a transaction increases, the need for innovative structuring options also increases. Deal structure, financing, and tax management must be a proactive process that is addressed at an early stage. In many cases the Seller and Buyer often place all of the focus on the transaction price at the expense of the ‘net results’ of a business transaction. By carefully negotiating the terms and structure of the transaction, a business seller could walk away with a deal that provides a significantly larger economic benefit than a transaction that provides 100% of the proceeds at closing. For asset sale transactions, the ‘allocation of purchase price’ can become another area of negotiation after the price, terms and conditions of the sale have been agreed to by the buyer and seller. Each type of structure carries with it different tax consequences for the buyer and seller, having a material impact on the overall value of the transaction. The type of business entity owned by the seller (C-corporation, S-Corporation, LLC, Partnership, or Sole Proprietorship) in addition to whether the transaction becomes an asset sale or stock sale will have a major bearing on the decisions made in structuring the transaction to afford maximum economic benefits. The purpose of this communication is to advance a few of the techniques available in structuring small business sale transactions and to emphasize the value an experienced team brings in structuring the transaction. Asset sales of pass-through entities (LLC, S-Corp, & Partnerships) are handled very differently than stock-sales of C-Corps and it would be impossible to cover all of the structuring alternatives within this short document. Proper legal and tax counsel should be retained and the cost of these professionals is usually offset by the benefits they bring through their involvement in the transaction.

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