'Fire sales' - the pros and cons of buying out of administration

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08 October, 2019

Jenny Burke

The financial gains to be made from buying a business out of administration can be significant. However, the potential risks involved can also be just as great. For this reason, it's vital that potential buyers consider the benefits and pitfalls of undergoing such process and take advice from experienced, specialist advisers.

'Fire sales' often take place either before an administrator being appointed, known as pre-pack administration, or purchasing a company from the administrator once appointed. Assets may be bought by a third party or a trade buyer, but the directors of the failed business often buy the assets and trade under a new company name.

The main benefit is the speed of sale, usually resulting in higher returns for creditors in comparison to alternative routes into insolvency. Another advantage is business continuity. Buying the business as a 'going concern' means that operations are uninterrupted and the value of work in progress and customer goodwill are protected, contributing to the success of the new company.

The pitfalls must also be seriously considered. A fundamental pitfall is that time is of the essence. If an opportunity arises, as the buyer, you will need to be very focused on making the deal work, rather than completing a typical deal process involving the due diligence procedure and extensive negotiation, particularly in relation to warranties. Typically for these 'fire sale' transactions, very few or no warranties would be provided to the buyer.

All sale transactions are subject to benefits and pitfalls. As a buyer, it is crucial that you are made fully aware of these factors before entering the sale process - and take legal advice from a specialist solicitor. At Forbes we have a dedicated and experienced team who can fully guide you through all types of corporate transactions.

For more information contact Jenny Burke in our Corporate department via email or phone on 0333 207 1136. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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