The main options for the transfer of business ownership are:
- transferring ownership to a family member;
- transferring ownership to a non-family member;
- disposing of the business through a sale, management buy-out, management buy-in or voluntary liquidation.
Business transfers are controlled by company law and tax rules.
An employer's responsibilities towards his employees when selling all or part of a business are governed by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). In almost all cases the new employer cannot change the transferred employees' terms and conditions to match those of its existing employees.
Taking over an existing company is a worthwhile alternative to setting up a new business.
When selling your business there are several stages that need to be completed in order to achieve a successful outcome. Typical steps include:
- valuing your business;
- preparing your business for sale, including taking steps to increase its value;
- taking early tax advice to highlight issues which might affect your deal later - vital if you want to minimise the tax burden;
- identifying potential buyers;
- marketing your business;
- meeting and negotiating with potential buyers;
- completing legal due diligence with the buyer;
- finalising the sale agreement and transferring ownership.
Business Link provides much of the information on tax and legal issues which you may need when wishing to transfer ownership of a business.
Scottish Enterprise's Business Gateway and Invest Northern Ireland offer guidance on transferring business ownership in Scotland and Northern Ireland.