Family businesses and their owners
We have successfully advised family businesses and their owners for more than 70 years. We know what makes them tick, and we know the challenges they face. We assist them in establishing, expanding and restructuring their businesses, carrying out transactions, handling succession planning issues, dealing with – or avoiding – shareholder disputes, and protecting family assets.
We know from experience the great responsibility owners bear for their businesses, for their employees, and for the family and the complexity of balancing their interests in an environment marked by competitive pressures and regulatory constraints. We deliver the made-to-measure solutions they require and clear, practicable advice on how to implement them.
“In almost every area of law, Gleiss Lutz’ partners are praised for their outstanding, professional advice... Clients also value the lawyers’ ability to explain complex issues in layperson’s terms.”
Legal form and corporate structure
Choosing the right legal form and corporate structure is vital to ensuring a company’s long-term viability, and can help family businesses and their owners optimise succession planning, secure the family’s wealth and influence, and avoid unnecessary tax burdens.
Together with our clients and their families, we develop the best possible solution and guide them through the necessary restructuring – taking into account their specific objectives and circumstances.
Responsible management plays a crucial role in a company’s success, and fragmented shareholder structures may make it especially difficult to find the right corporate governance solution for family businesses.
We not only provide the legal expertise that family businesses and their owners need, but also understand their goals and interests – as well as those of family members not actively involved in the business.
We advise on all questions concerning internal company structures, corporate duties and the division of responsibilities between the boards, specifically including succession planning at management and shareholder level.
Clear and considered succession plans are essential to protecting the long-term success of family businesses and preserving the wealth of their owners.
They should therefore be established well in advance. For decades, Gleiss Lutz has extensively and successfully advised family businesses and their owners on developing and structuring succession plans.
Key considerations include not only purely internal family issues and the transfer of ownership itself, but also which family members will take over the helm, whether the business and assets are to be transferred to charitable trusts or family foundations (in Germany or abroad), whether to bring in third parties at management level or as investors, and whether or not to sell the company.
For each client, we develop a customised solution that meets their unique financial, legal and tax requirements.
M&A transactions offer entrepreneurs the strategic means to expand or consolidate their business and to ensure the going concern of the company.
Gleiss Lutz has one of Germany’s leading M&A practices, and regularly advises family businesses and their shareholders on inbound and outbound transactions.
M&A transactions demand expertise across many areas of law. Our full service approach enables us to put together specialist legal teams drawing on comprehensive expertise and experience, offering clients seamless service and bespoke solutions.
Family businesses and their owners typically value their organisational and financial independence, shunning outside investment and opting for long-term stability and viability.
Whether they are seeking equity or debt financing or an alternative form of financing such as green financing or sustainable financing: Our banking and finance specialists can prepare and help business owners implement a model that suits their specific needs.
Tax is a key issue for family businesses, as their ownership structure often means that corporate measures have tax consequences for family members. A fiscally transparent legal form may leave family members exposed to substantial tax burdens if the company is restructured, for example.
The company’s structure also determines whether and to what extent inheritance and gift tax is payable on succession. Family members abroad may be subject to expatriation tax. Our longstanding ties with major family businesses and their owners have given us an excellent understanding of their circumstances and requirements when it comes to tax.
Our Tax practice offers seamless, integrated advice, drawing on the expertise of other teams as and when needed – for example, on complex questions regarding corporate groups or special capital markets know-how.
We are well-versed in the complex and interrelated aspects of income and inheritance tax, particularly in an international setting and where foundation and trust structures are involved.
Reputational damage, record fines and huge compensation claims – compliance violations can have serious consequences. Our market-leading, experienced and highly effective team assists clients accused of compliance violations, handling internal investigations and leveraging our experience in dealing with regulatory, antitrust and criminal investigation authorities.
We also develop and optimise tailored compliance programmes for companies to ensure they avoid regulatory pitfalls and to minimise the risk of fines.
Clients benefit from our full service compliance practice, which brings together the knowledge and experience of lawyers from across the firm, covering everything from antitrust, criminal, corporate, employment, data protection and tax law to foreign trade, public procurement and dispute resolution.
Expanding into foreign markets, cross-border transactions and even special issues such as the relocation of a family member abroad all require seamless advice across various countries and jurisdictions.
Our flexible and well-tested international network and close personal relationships with leading independent law firms and lawyers worldwide allow us to put together handpicked teams best suited to the task at hand.
And as a leading independent law firm, we are free to choose local advisers based on clients’ specific requirements – ensuring consistently high-quality advice and tailored service across borders.