Often as part of an exit strategy or succession planning companies will buy back shares.
Setting aside the mechanics, nicely explained in the ACCA Technical Factsheet 177 and the need for S1044 CTA 2010 clearance, the Buy Back has to be in the benefit of the trade not just the shareholder.
If the purpose is to ensure that an unwilling shareholder who wishes to end his association with the company does not sell his shares to someone who might not be acceptable to the other shareholders, the purchase will normally be regarded as benefiting the company’s trade.
Examples of unwilling shareholders are:
- an outside shareholder who has provided equity finance (whether or not with the expectation of redemption or sale to the company) and who now wishes to withdraw that finance
- a controlling shareholder who is retiring as a director and wishes to make way for new management
- personal representatives of a deceased shareholder, where they wish to realise the value of the shares
- a legatee of a deceased shareholder, where he does not wish to hold shares in the company
Assuming that the shares aren’t being bought back at Par Value, basic rate taxpayers will probably prefer dividends for any surplus where as higher rate taxpayer will want capital treatment.
Share Buy Back is complex, make sure you seek professional advice.