“Liquidation Preference”优先受偿权在风险投资协议中的运用

在风险投资协议中,“Liquidation Preference”(“优先受偿权条款”)可以说是最基本条款之一,体现了优先股之所以优于普通股的一大特点。其基本的含义是指在发生公司清算或者被收购时(协议中通常称这一类事件为“清偿事件Deemed Liquidation”), 优先股股东有权先于普通股股东获得清偿,而且协议可以约定优先股股东获得清偿的价格,可以与当初的购买价格相同,甚至几倍于购买价格。概念虽然看似简单,但这一条款经常是公司与有经验的投资人之间的兵家必争之地。从公司的角度,肯定不想让渡过多的优先股权利给投资人,否则拿普通股的公司创始人在发生清偿事件时获得的剩余价值也就越少。相反,Angel 或 Venture Investors 作为公司初期投资人,承担巨大的投资风险,他们和公司多要些优先股权利又是合情合理。

举个例子,如果公司创始人F与风险投资人V共同设立一个公司,F以对公司的初期与持续贡献换取公司70% 股权, V投资$1,000,000美元占公司30%股权,如果公司发展不成功,例如在V投资的$1,000,000被公司花掉$100,000时公司决定解散, 对于剩余的$900,000美元,如果V没有liquidation preference保护或其他约定,则按股权比例分配V只能最多拿回$900,000*30%=$270,000。然而,如果有liquidation preference保护的情况下则可以将$900,000全部拿回(不考虑其他因素如偿还债权人)。

通常,在美国初创企业风险投资协议中,我们常见到两类优先受偿权条款,一类是“non-participating preferred”,另一类是“participating preferred”。其区别在于,在按协议完成对优先股股东的优先清偿后,对于公司的剩余资产,该类优先股股东是否有权利再加入到普通股股东一起按比例分配剩余的资产。公司当然希望给投资人“non-participating preferred”,投资人则更想要“participating preferred”,当双方僵持不下时该怎么办,其实还可以有一种折中的办法: 如果投资人比较强势,坚持要“participating preferred”,则公司可以与其协商一个上限,在优先股股东获得清偿的金额达到某个值,通常是初始购买价格的两倍或三倍,则该类优先股股东即停止参与普通股股东分配公司剩余的资产。

在协商该条款时,公司与投资人双方还可能会考虑其他一些因素,如在清偿优先股股东时,是否同时支付其“accrued dividends”还是“non-cumulative dividends”。对于“accrued dividends”,又是否只支付“board declared but unpaid”, 未付股息又是否“compounding”(复利计算)或 “non-compounding”呢,如果是复利计算的股息,是按年,还是月,亦或季度来计算呢。这些都是双方反复会磋商的地方,值得公司与投资人特别注意,并且需要在相关的协议以及经公司修订的章程中作出明确的约定,以免之后的争议。

注释:“accrued dividends”指不管公司是否在前面的年度或季度宣布分配股息,优先股股东都有权按照约定的股息率获得相应的股息。 “non-cumulative dividends”指只在公司宣布分配股息时,优先股股东才有权获得相应的股息。

由于篇幅所限,笔者仅对该条款及相关概念作介绍性的阐述,请注意该文只做信息性介绍,不代表相关律师的法律意见,作者也不保证该文相关信息的准确性与时效性,并不对您依据该文作出的决定或行动承担任何责任。如您有相关问题请咨询聘请专业律师。


© 2018 MT Law LLC. All Rights Reserved. Do not post without permission from the author.

Article drafted by Vincent Cheng, contact information: hmcheng@mtlawllc.com.

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This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute advertising, legal advice or solicitation. It is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete and may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. MT Law LLC and the authors expressly disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this article. Readers with legal questions should consult an attorney. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon informational articles.

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