Classification: Under the Radar
Negotiation Time: Minimal
Transaction Costs: Insignificant
Major Impact: Transaction Completion
What is This? Both the Buyer and Seller will have various tasks they must complete prior to the Closing in order to get the deal across the finish line. While those tasks are listed out elsewhere, this covenant sets the minimum standard of effort that must be used to achieve them.
The Middle Ground: Both parties promise to use their reasonable best efforts to satisfy their respective closing conditions.
Purpose: This provision is intended to increase the likelihood that the parties complete the transaction, and it does so by serving as a “catchall” provision that applies the “reasonable best efforts” standard to all closing conditions. Without this provision, one party could decide it doesn’t want to complete the transaction after it has already signed the Agreement, and it could avoid liability for failing to perform by simply not meeting its closing conditions. At that point, the other party would have to decide whether to abandon the transaction or waive those conditions and move forward, and neither of those options is very attractive. This covenant helps avoid that situation by requiring the parties to use a certain level of effort to satisfy the closing conditions, and if that level is not met it is considered a breach of the Agreement.
Buyer Preference: None.
Seller Preference: None.
Differences in a Stock Sale Transaction Structure: None.
We want The Middle Ground to be an ongoing dialogue for and resource to the lower middle market M&A community. The outline above is generally applicable, but there is always specific case law and nuance around certain industries that can be useful in helping buyers and sellers come together. If you are a lawyer or deal professional, we encourage you to add your perspective below.