Going Concern Or Scrap

Company Law Repository Winding Up

持续经营或拆解出售

Why is it more worthwhile to sell the company as a going concern rather than selling the assets as scrap?

To discuss this question, we need to know what sale of going concern and sale of assets are as well as how these two different with each other.

为什么以持续经营来出售公司比将公司拆解出售资产更有价值?

为了讨论这个问题,我们需要了解何谓持续经营出售资产出售,以及两者之间有何不同。

Going concern is a business which is still operating. According to the Malaysia Guide on Transfer of Business as a Going Concern, transfer of business as going concern (TOGC) may involve the transfer of a whole or part of a business as a going concern, and in the case where only part of the business is transferred, that part of the business must be able to operate on its own.  The Malaysia Guide on TOGC also illustrates that a mere sale or transfer of capital assets which does not result in the purchaser taking over the business of the seller does not come within the definition of TOGC. In Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Majid & Ors v Kuantan Beach Hotel Sdn Bhd & Ors [2012] MLJU 1788, the judge cited a UK Supreme Court case law (Melon v Hector Powe Ltd [1981] 1 ALL ER) in which Lord Fraser stated that

‘the essential distinction between the transfer of business or part of a business, and a transfer of the physical assets is that in the former case the business is transferred as a going concern so that the business remains the same business but in different hands… whereas in the latter case, the assets are transferred to the new ownership to be used in whatever business he choose.’

Here are what the buyer can usually obtain through a TOGC, but not limited to these:

  • tangible assets; (e.g.: premises, goods, facilities)
  • intangible assets and (e.g.: company brand names, trademarks, patents and customer loyalty)
  • future profitability

一家已出售了的持续经营企业为一家并不会在出售后停止营业。根据马来西亚持续经营业务转移指南,持续经营业务转移(TOGC)可能涉及整体或部分持续经营业务的转移,且在仅有部分业务转移的情况下,该部分业务必须能够独立运营。 马来西亚TOGC指南还说明任何购买或转移公司资产却不导致买房接手公司业务的情况并不归纳入TOGC的定义之中。在法庭判例Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Majid & Ors v Kuantan Beach Hotel Sdn Bhd & Ors [2012] MLJU 1788中,法官引用了英国最高法院的判例 (Melon v Hector Powe Ltd [1981] 1 ALL ER) ,其中Lord Fraser说:

“业务或部分业务转移与实物资产转移之间的本质区别在于,在前者的情况下,业务以持续经营的方式转移,因此该业务仍然是同一业务,但掌握在不同的手中……而在后者的情况下,资产将转移到新所有权以用于其选择的任何业务。”

买方通常可以通过TOGC获得以下好处,但不仅限于这些:

•有形资产; (例如:房屋,商品,设施)

•无形资产和(例如:公司品牌,商标,专利和客户忠诚度)

•未来盈利能力

A TOGC can benefit the buyers more than transfer of mere assets. Sometimes, going concern is sold because it is not making profit due to improper management or wrongful investment strategy. So, some changes and improvements to the management level or business strategy can save the company and revive it. Since going concern always has well-established organizational structure, the effort to be put in to rebuild it is comparatively small. Now, we will look at each part of the transaction and how they are going to advantageous the buyers.

TOGC比单纯的资产转移能为买方带来更多收益。一些情况下,持续经营被出售是由于经营不善或投资策略错误导致无法盈利。因此,公司可在针对管理层面或者商业策略上进行改革或重整即可挽救甚至与振兴公司。由于持续经营企业一直具有完善的组织结构,因此经营者只需要付出相对较小的努力即可重建公司业务。现在,我们将着眼交易的各个部分以及它们如何使买方受益。

1. Reputation

The going concern might have earned the society’s awareness alongside its business operation since establishment. This reputation and society’s awareness are transferred to the buyer when buying the going concern. In order to build up reputation, one needs time and excellent advertising, which can cost a lot. In a TOGC, the value of company’s reputation should be included in the selling price. Transfer of assets will not benefit the buyer in this way, so price should be lower considering the reduced value.

1.信誉

一家持续经营企业一般而言,在成立以后会因为其业务而赢得一些社会的关注。以持续经营为购买手段时,这种声誉和社会关注度将会有所保留,买方将享受到此成果。这远比为了重新建立声誉而花费时间和金钱推动广告来得有效,且这将耗费更多的时间和金钱。在TOGC中,公司声誉的价值应包含在其出售价中。单纯的资产转移则不会使到买家如此受益,因此在考虑已降低的价值以后价格应更低。

2. Trading Record

Buying an existing business, one can access to the company’s trade secret, its business networking and trade history. The information is widely applicable not only on the purchased business, but also other companies which the buyer might have owned.

2.交易记录

购买现有业务,就可获取该公司的商业秘密,其业务脉络和交易历史。该信息不仅广泛适用于所购买的业务,而且还适用于买方可能拥有的其他公司。

3. Customer Loyalty

Long-established brand might have had groups of loyal customers already. This is different from the company’s reputation, loyal customers are those who keep coming back and consume, they are different with those who have heard of the company’s name only, this group of people are almost the guaranteed future income for the going concern even after transaction.

3.客户忠诚度

历史悠久的品牌可能已经有一群忠实的客户。这与公司的声誉不同,忠实的客户是不断回头消费的人,他们与仅听说过该公司名称的人是不同的,这群人即使在持续经营交易后也几乎是未来收入的保障。

4. Skilled Workers

A competent team of employees is important to a company. Well-trained workers are assets of company because they make profit to the company and are used to the daily operation mode of the company. They can work and solve problems by their own even boss is away. To be realistic, if a company is compelled to be sold, there must be some problems inside the team, however to make correction on a mature group is much easier and more efficient than training all the newbies.

4.技术员工

一支有能力的员工团队对公司很重要。训练有素的员工是公司的资产,因为他们为公司赚钱并习惯了公司的日常运营模式。即使老板不在,他们可以自己工作和解决问题。现实地说,如果一家公司被迫出售,那么团队内部肯定会有一些问题,但是对一个成熟的团队进行纠正要比培训所有新手容易得多,且效率更高。

5. Complete and Established Business Operating System

5.完善和完备的业务操作系统

This is the most valuable part of a going concern as it allows the buyer to continue operate the business without hesitation and that there is a successful track record for the buyer to make reference to. What is worth noting is that the TOGC puts the purchaser in a position of owning business (ALAM VENTURE SDN BHD & ANOR v ABDUL AZIZ BIN ABDUL MAJID & ORS [2015] 4 MLJ 270), not simply possessing an asset.  For cases of sale of assets only, the buyer needs to figure out how to make use of these piecemeal assets and if they want to use them to run a different business, they will have to transform it to a new status. Many assets were set up for specific functions only, for example the railway track, some machines and plants, it is rather troublesome to do the transformation while in a TOGC, these assets can be put in service immediately.

这是持续经营中最有价值的部分,因为它使买方可以毫不犹豫地继续经营业务,并且有成功的过往业绩可供买方参考。值得注意的是,TOGC将买方置于拥有业务的地位 (ALAM VENTURE SDN BHD & ANOR v ABDUL AZIZ BIN ABDUL MAJID & ORS [2015] 4 MLJ 270), 而不仅仅是拥有资产。而相对的在仅仅是出售资产的情况,购买者需要弄清如何利用这些零碎的资产且如果他们想使用它们来经营其他业务,他们将不得不将它们转换成新状态。许多资产被设定为仅有特定功能,例如铁轨,一些机器,进行转换较为麻烦,而在TOGC中,这些资产可立即投入使用。

Another benefit of buying going concern in Malaysia is the waiver of GST.  Since the TOGC is neither a supply of goods nor a supply of services, hence nobody needs to bear the GST cost in a TOGC. Even though this does not directly increase the value of going concern, it still provides discount to the purchaser of going concern. Thus, it is worthwhile to both sides as no additional money goes to a third party in the form of GST.

在马来西亚购买持续经营的另一个好处是免征GST。由于TOGC既不是商品供应也不是服务供应,因此没有人需要承担TOGC的GST费用。即使这并没有直接增加持续经营的价值,但仍为持续经营的购买者提供了折扣。正因如此,没有额外的钱以GST的形式流向第三方,这对双方绝对是百利无害的。

When buying a going concern, everything comes together, meaning that not only the good name, the soft power among the business ecosystem and the complete operational system, the company’s debt liability, the contracts that formed prior to the transaction and even ongoing unprofitable business activities are included. Once taking over, the buyer is liable to every of the company’s issues as a legal owner (LAM SHES TONG & ORS v LAM KEE YING SDN BHD [1973] 1 MLJ 203). If the liability is not transferred, that means the entire business is not transferred because the liabilities cannot be separated from a going concern (DJ Auto Components Manufacturing Sdn Bhd v Fbk Systems Sdn Bhd [2016] MLJU 1260).

购买持续经营时,所有利益与责任都将一同转移,这意味着不仅是好名声,商生态系统和完善运营系统之中的软实力,公司的债务责任,交易之前形成的合同,甚至是持续进行的无利润的商业活动皆被包含在内。一旦接手,买方将作为合法所有人对公司的所有问题承担责任(LAM SHES TONG & ORS v LAM KEE YING SDN BHD [1973] 1 MLJ 203)。基于责任与持续经营无法分割,倘若责任尚未被转移,这意味着公司业务的所有权并没有转移。(DJ Auto Components Manufacturing Sdn Bhd v Fbk Systems Sdn Bhd [2016] MLJU 1260)。

As analyzed above, going concern value is typically higher than the sum of value of all assets. The difference of these two is known as goodwill. The goodwill makes it more worthwhile to be sold as a going concern than as assets, especially when the company’s market value is high. To evaluate a going concern value, we need to take into account all the elements listed above. The reason why selling the company as a going concern is more worthwhile than selling the assets as scrap is that going concern value are equal to the sum of the assets plus the goodwill.

综上所述,持续经营的价值通常高于所有资产价值的总和。两者之间的差异被称为商誉。商誉使出售持续经营比资产更有价值,特别是在公司的市场价值很高的时候。要评估持续经营的价值,我们需要考虑以上所列的所有要素。出售作为持续经营的公司比出售作为废品的资产更有价值的原因是,持续经营的价值相等于资产与商誉之总和。

Ting Bee Ren
University of Leeds

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