Classification: Moderately Material
Section: Conditions to Closing
Negotiation Time: Minimal
Transaction Costs: Insignificant or Expensive (if HSR filings are required)
Major Impact: Transaction Completion
Conditions to Obligations
of All Parties
What is This? Certain events will make a transaction impractical or even impossible, and this clause is included to give both parties a legal “out” of the deal if one of those events occurs.
The Middle Ground: This provision lists the conditions that must be met at or prior to Closing for both sides to be obligated to move forward with the transaction. The conditions include: (1) all required filings under the HSR Act have been made and any applicable waiting periods have expired (if the Act applies to the transaction); (2) no Governmental Authority has taken any action that would cause the transaction to be illegal or that would otherwise prevent it from becoming and remaining effective; and (3) all consents, authorizations, etc. required to be obtained by either party from any Governmental Authorities were received and have not been revoked.
Purpose: The intent of this provision is to allow both sides to walk away from the deal without penalty if the government interferes with the transaction (or if their approval is required but not given). While there is a very low probability that any Governmental Authority would implement a law or ruling preventing an acquisition in the lower middle market, if it were to happen it would certainly put an end to the transaction. Similarly, it is highly unlikely that either side would fail to obtain a necessary authorization or consent absent sheer incompetence or severe procrastination. Yet, if such failure were to occur it would also be an almost-certain death knell for the deal. Because of the low probability, high magnitude dynamic at play, the provision is worth paying attention as the Closing approaches, but it is not something that is likely to eat up negotiation time or cause significant disagreement.
Buyer and Seller Preference: None, other than deleting certain inapplicable conditions such as the HSR Act filing requirements or obtaining governmental approvals.
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.