Shareholders Agreement

Shareholders’ agreements & deadlock clauses

One of the most important issues to be addressed by a Shareholders’ Agreement is what happens where the directors or shareholders cannot agree and a deadlock arises.  In cases where voting of Directors of a board is proportional to the shareholding represented by the appointed director, or there can be a deadlock caused by “one vote, one director” care needs to be taken to ensure that control can be exercised by addressing the deadlock issue.  Of course the deadlock can also be between shareholders. [Read more…]

What is a Preference Share?

Preference shares (Preference Shares) are a class of share that gives the holders some right or preference over another class of shares.  A Preference Share is often thought of as a ‘hybrid’ security, as it has features of both debt and equity.  Like ordinary shares, Preference Shares are issued by a company at the time of issue, or may be capable of being purchased on the market.  Pursuant to section 254A(2) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), a company can only issue Preference Shares if the rights which attach to such shares are set out in the company’s constitution, or have been approved by a special resolution of the company.  A company does not have to be listed on a stock exchange to issue preference shares. [Read more…]

What is a Shareholders Agreement?

A shareholders agreement (Shareholders Agreement) is a contract that attempts to regulate the rights and obligations of Shareholders or Members (used interchangeably) in the context of their ownership of securities in a company.  The company itself may also be a party to the Shareholders Agreement.

Shareholders Agreements are not compulsory like the Replaceable Rules or a Constitution as required by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act).  On incorporation, or on obtaining an investor, many companies choose to regulate the rights and obligations of Members in addition to regulating various aspects of the management of the Company by preparing and executing such an Agreement. [Read more…]

Shareholder disputes – the fight for control

Disputes between directors and shareholders of Australian proprietary limited companies (Shareholder Disputes) are common.  The rights and obligations of directors and shareholders of companies are regulated by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) and the standard form “vanilla” constitution (Constitution) based on the Act.  The unfortunate reality is that the Act and the vanilla Constitution are usually insufficiently prescriptive to protect the parties from the conduct of a Director or Director(s) behaving badly. [Read more…]

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