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The relationships with your fellow shareholders and your goals for your business are unique. One shareholder might bring cash to the table, while another brings labour only. You might want an exit in five years, the other wants to toil away until retirement. These issues should be raised and agreed from the start. Writing it down in a shareholders agreement will align your interests or reveal gaps that need bridging.
Each agreement starts with a template. It is a foundation that a solicitor will build upon and guide you through. The are many different rules to pick from. Some more important than others, depending on your needs. For any rule you don’t understand, your solicitor will explain it to you. Once you understand the rules, you can select the ones that matter most. Only then can you create a shareholders agreement that’s relevant, practical and fair for your co-founders and investors.
This is not an easy task. Picking the right solicitor for the job at an affordable price is hard. At Lexoo, we do our best to make the process quicker and easier by giving you multiple quotes from specialised solicitors. We only send your enquiry to the most relevant solicitors - those with expertise and experience in dealing with shareholder interests and the rules that bind them. All our solicitors are insured and are governed by ethical standards, giving you peace of mind that your business is underpinned by a binding document crafted by a professional.
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Although prices can vary greatly, we’ve seen hundreds of enquiries for shareholders agreements come through Lexoo. The fixed-fee quotes we’ve typically seen range between £600 to £2,000. The lower-end quotes tend to cover straightforward situations where there are a small number of shareholders, each of whom have the same rights and responsibilities. The quotes at the upper end deal with more complex situations. For example: where shareholders have unequal rights or where more complex rules need to be negotiated, such as share vesting arrangements or drag along / tag along provisions.
Submitting an enquiry through Lexoo is easy. Just give us the main details, for instance:
“My co-founder and I run a fashion e-commerce business via a limited company. We are about to receive investment. We need to draft a shareholders agreement to set out the following key points:
- My co-founder and I currently own 50% of the shares each.
- The investor will take 30% of the shares for £150,000. My co-founder and I will own 35% each.
- My co-founder and my shares are to vest over 4 years (i.e. we each get 25% of our shares per year).”
(This is a fictional, but typical type of enquiry we’ve been able to help with)
A shareholders agreement and the articles of association together form the rules that govern your company. Your articles deal with day-to-day company management, typically covering:
Although a shareholders agreement might overlap with some of the above rules, it might also cover:
A shareholders agreement can also act as a master agreement for other agreements like service agreements, intellectual property licences, management agreements or distribution agreements, for example.
Some of these rules can also be written into the articles of association. But not all.
Here’s the thing:
There are strict laws regulating what your articles of association can contain. Certain rules which are common in a shareholders agreement are illegal if you put them in the articles. For example, a rule preventing you from removing an investor from the board.
Also, the articles of association are a public document, registered with Companies House and open to inspection. So anything you wish to keep private, such as an investor’s power of veto over key decisions, should be contained in your shareholders agreement.
Shareholder agreements can be complex and the jargon can be confusing. Here are some examples and explanations to help you navigate them:
Not all shareholder agreements will contain these rules, nor will they always be required. Whether any or all of these rules are relevant to you will depend on your circumstances and what you agree with your fellow shareholders and investors.
If you're looking for more information on the topic, check out our frequently asked questions on shareholders agreements.
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