Director | Hong Kong
Across the world family businesses are the foundation on which economies are built. Many of the most well-known business stories are or were originally family concerns, and the unique dynamics of family businesses can often be the driving source of their success.
Our family business clients include large international businesses, smaller domestic companies and everything in between, across a variety of industry sectors. We understand that the focus of a family business may frequently differ from other kinds of enterprises. Though all are committed to commercial growth, family businesses are also often looking at longer-term goals, and are celebrated by their clients for that ethos of sustainability and distinct family values.
With our private client heritage we are particularly well placed to help integrate both the corporate and personal aspects of your family life. Whether that’s the interplay between corporate and personal tax, or advising on the potentially delicate issues surrounding business succession from one generation to the next, we have helped a huge number of family businesses maintain their success around the world.
We approach your situation with a rounded view of every kind of issue you may face, and all of the objectives you are looking to achieve. Our knowledge and experience can be of service in areas such as corporate structuring, regulatory oversight, family and business governance, and business succession planning, as well as more traditional corporate, finance, tax and wealth planning matters.
Our dispute resolution team is well-prepared to advise on commercial disputes within the family, as well as on more specialist issues such as family trust litigation. Front of mind for us is the fact that although it may be necessary to go to court, it is rarely in a family’s interest to have its private affairs dragged into the public arena. We will therefore do all we can to resolve disputes via alternative routes such as mediation, in order to reach a satisfactory outcome while maintaining discretion and confidentiality.
Fees for bringing and defending claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal in the employment tribunalInvestment treaty arbitration
With experience spanning the globe, we represent businesses and investors when disputes arise under international investment law. Our lawyers are also uniquely placed to help States draft investment treaties.Families and family offices
Families call on us when they want a firm that understands their needs – whether they are looking to pass down wealth, set up and run a family office, or make their mark through philanthropy.Corporate governance
Good governance is more important than ever. Our team offer advice on the regulatory frameworks of different countries where you operate, within the operational context of your business.
We help a range of organizations, from multinational companies to hedge funds to family offices, to find – or if necessary create – the corporate structures that work most effectively for them.Mergers and acquisitions
Our seasoned team has acted in the full range of transactions, be it public company takeovers or contentious buyouts – getting the deal done quickly, within regulations and with minimal fuss.Trusts, foundations and stress testing
We can help you to identify the right structure to hold your wealth, find the right global location to establish it, and stress-test it robustly so your assets are well protected for the future.
With a team of more than 150 specialist tax lawyers, who are qualified in jurisdictions around the world, we are perfectly placed to handle even the most complex, cross-border tax issues.Media and reputation
The publication of private or inaccurate information can seriously damage reputations. Should the worst happen, our media law team will quickly advise on how to mitigate any potential impact.Philanthropy
There is no single approach to philanthropy; what’s key is that your giving has the biggest impact possible. Whichever way you choose to donate, our team can advise on what is most effective.
We successfully represented a UK company over a complex and highly litigious dispute arising out of a family business. Spanning over many years, there were findings of professional negligence against our client's former solicitors and findings of forgery against one of the respondents. Various teams across our firm worked on this case including corporate, trusts and litigation to fully service our clients needs under one roof.
Assisted a UK based family whose business is in the second/third generation on creation of wealth planning structures, including family limited partnerships, primarily for the purposes of enabling the elder generation to pass on shares in the family business to the younger generation without passing on complete control of the business until such time as the younger generation had proved their credentials.
We assisted a family in efficient structuring of the family's business activities in the US and the UK as well as their family charitable foundation. The unique nature of our US team based in London enabled us to provide both the UK and US advice on the structuring and charitable foundation under one roof.
Advised clients with cross-border interests in relation to the construction of private trust company structures, which effectively allowed for family business succession planning, cost reduction and greater control over certain trust decisions and tax minimization in the jurisdiction of domicile and internationally.
Providing advice to the trustees and family members who own and run the estate on all tax and structuring matters, including succession planning. Recently, we advised on the structuring for the sale of land for development both from a tax and planning perspective. We also created a new LLP to own and run the estate, to help achieve the family's aims in involving family members in decision-making and succession planning.
We were instructed by this family, consisting of several members spanning two generations, in relation to setting up a private trust company structure (PTC). The PTC acts as a trustee of a master trust to hold the family office, family business and family investment entity. The beneficiaries of the master trust were a series of "feeder" trusts established for the benefit of each of the family members and their respective families together with a number of charitable entities. In addition, we advised the family on establishing a sophisticated governance structure, including a family council and family constitution.
We represented a Swiss-based family office in a corporate control contest involving a California-based US$500 million private company in the coatings business. The company has an independent Board of Directors and is owned by three significant minority owners and widely dispersed current and former employees. Our work involved M&A, corporate governance, finance, complex contracts, tax and offensive corporate litigation. We drew on our New Haven, Greenwich and Los Angeles lawyers and implemented a partial contingent billing arrangement.
We acted for the son of a deceased German businessman who was entitled to a share of a cross-border estate worth in excess of £35m. The case raised complex conflict of law issues over the deceased's Will and arguments from some of the heirs that the son had no entitlement. We co-ordinated simultaneous proceedings in England and Germany and the case was ultimately settled out of court.
When multiple generations of a family are involved in a business together, the issues can become complex. Withers has a strong track record in this area so when a family-owned business approached us, we were able to address their needs. We helped with inheritance tax planning for the senior generation as well as the separation of assets between the three generations involved. The planning included reclassifying shares, paying a dividend and a de-merger of the business.
15 February 2022 | article
21 June 2021 | podcast
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