Stradley Ronon has a long tradition of serving as a trusted advisor to owners, entrepreneurs and executives of closely held and family owned businesses. We represent local, regional and international businesses across a variety of industry sectors throughout all stages of the corporate life cycle, from formation and growth to succession planning and exit events.
We recognize that there are unique challenges involved in owning and running a closely held or family owned business, including developing an effective management team, seizing on growth opportunities and assembling a well-integrated cadre of outside professional advisors. These challenges are often met in an environment where capital and human resources may be limited. We understand that closely held and family owned businesses operate in an ever-changing and dynamic landscape, and require legal advisors who listen attentively to your particular needs, and who can help navigate the business so that short, medium- and long-term financial and personal objectives are considered at each stage and ultimately realized.
We draw upon the resources and experiences of our professionals across a variety of disciplines, including tax, corporate, mergers and acquisitions, employment, employee benefits, and trust and estate planning, to provide an integrated set of legal services for our closely held and family owned business clients.
Building a Solid Foundation
It is important to ensure that tax and liability considerations, ownership issues, and transition and exit strategies are appropriately addressed at the formation stage. Stradley Ronon assists new ventures in selecting the most advantageous legal structure – corporation, limited liability company, business trust, partnership or other entity. We counsel clients on important corporate governance, voting, and control issues to ensure that decision-making is aligned with the business owner’s objectives. Our attorneys support clients in ownership and management continuity strategies through buy-sell arrangements and employment and phantom equity arrangements to attract and retain key employees. We advise on the acquisition, protection and exploitation of technology and other intellectual property rights that are important assets of an emerging or established company.
Growing the Business
Our team works closely with you to support the growth of your business organically and through strategic acquisitions. We assist our business clients in the planning, structuring and negotiating of acquisitions, including leveraged buy-outs, strategic alliances and joint ventures. We also work with our clients to create boards of advisors that bring accountability and an outside perspective to the company’s planning needs. Our attorneys match companies with interested financing sources and handle various financing options, including commercial bank loans, sale and leasebacks, tax-exempt financings, plant and equipment loans, lines of credit, term loans, letter of credit facilities, conventional collateralized loans and subordinated debt.
Planning Succession Issues and Exit Strategies
Our lawyers work with your accountants, wealth management advisors and investment bankers, to help closely held and family owned clients facilitate tax-advantaged succession of their business, while also integrating such succession strategies with the business owner’s objectives. This planning includes buy-sell and voting trust agreements, funding arrangements to provide estate liquidity, family partnerships, deferred compensation arrangements and various tax-leveraged options for transferring an interest in a business, such as private annuities, installment sales, sales to grantor trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts (a/k/a GRATS) and other estate “freeze” techniques.
Where a client desires instead to realize some of the value of its business outside of the family, we plan and implement a variety of strategies to accomplish this objective, including the sale of the business, a recapitalization of the equity through a strategic or financial investor, or the pursuit of a public stock offering.
Resolving and Preventing Disputes
If conflicts arise among the owners of a business, its employees, customers or suppliers, our experience in business law, as well as with mediation strategies, enables us to resolve conflicts without litigation. Our firm is a nationally recognized leader in alternative dispute resolution. Our attorneys have served as mediators in disputes involving closely held businesses, and can use their experience to resolve business disputes cost-effectively. If litigation is necessary, our litigators have a wealth of experience in such matters.