shareholder at a company in austin texas who need a shareholder agreement lawyer
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By Sanjeev Kumar
Founding Attorney

Shareholder agreements in Texas govern the dynamics of shareholder interactions within a corporation. A shareholder agreement is not legally required in Texas, but it is critical to the smooth operation of a business. It is recommended for any entity with more than one shareholder. A formal agreement is even more crucial for complex companies with multiple shareholders and investors. These agreements are crafted to specify shareholders’ rights and responsibilities, outline the management structure, and set procedures for resolving disputes. They also detail the protocols for the sale or transfer of shares, ensuring stability and continuity in the ownership structure. For any Texas corporation, mainly those privately held, these agreements serve as a foundational tool for managing corporate affairs and aligning the interests of all parties involved.

Key Components Of The Shareholder Agreement

A shareholder agreement serves as a private contract between all or some of the shareholders of a company. It often complements the company’s bylaws, addressing issues not covered by the statutory frameworks. Here are the key elements typically involved in a shareholder agreement:

  • Share Ownership and Valuation: This section of the Shareholder Agreement dictates the terms for issuing new shares and transferring existing shares. It might include pre-emption rights, which give existing shareholders first refusal on issuing new shares. The agreement should also specify how shares are valued during a sale or transfer, especially when a shareholder wishes to exit the company.
  • Management and Voting Rights: This element of the agreement specifies how the board is formed, how members are elected, and their tenure. The Agreement should also detail the voting rights attached to different types of shares and the processes for significant decisions, which might require a supermajority or other specific conditions.
  • Dividends and Financing: The Shareholder Agreement should outline how profits will be distributed among shareholders as dividends, the conditions under which shareholders must contribute additional capital to the business, and the terms related to such actions.
  • Rights and Obligations of Shareholders: The agreement should inform the Shareholders of their rights to access company records and receive regular financial reports. It also sets forth conditions or activities that shareholders must perform, such as non-competition and confidentiality clauses.
  • Buy-Sell Provisions and Exit Strategies: There are certain rights that should be included in these provisions, such as tag-along rights, drag-along rights, as well as a shotgun clause.  Tag-along rights protect minority shareholders by allowing them to join when a majority shareholder sells their stake. Drag-along rights enable a majority shareholder to force minority shareholders to join in the sale of the company. A shotgun clause allows a shareholder to offer to buy out another shareholder, who must either accept the offer or buy the offering shareholder at the same price. Lastly, exit provisions should set forth conditions under which disputes that cannot be resolved internally may lead to a forced buyout of shares.
  • Dispute Resolution: This part of the agreement contains procedures for handling internal disputes, which may include arbitration or mediation before litigation.
  • Restrictions and Protections: There should be a right of first refusal element in case a shareholder wishes to sell their shares. This clause requires that the shares be first offered to other existing shareholders. In addition, clauses should limit shareholders from engaging in competing businesses and disclosing confidential information.
  • Succession and Death: Succession planning addresses what happens to a shareholder’s shares in the event of their death or incapacity. Some agreements require shareholders to hold life insurance policies naming the company or other shareholders as beneficiaries to fund the purchase of shares upon their death.
  • Amendments and Miscellaneous Procedures: Provisions outlining how the agreement can be amended should be included, usually requiring a certain level of consensus among shareholders. Specific miscellaneous provisions at the end should determine which jurisdiction’s law will govern the agreement.

Specific Texas State Provisions Regarding Shareholder Agreements

In Texas, shareholder agreements have specific statutory underpinnings that shape how they are structured and enforced, particularly under the Texas Business Organizations Code. Here are some key elements specific to Texas:

  • Formal Requirements: A shareholder agreement in Texas must be in writing and signed by all shareholders at the time of the agreement. If approved by all shareholders, it can be incorporated into the certificate of formation or bylaws or exist as a separate document that must be made known to the corporation.
  • Enforcement and Consistency with State Law: Texas law allows shareholder agreements to contain provisions that are inconsistent with the Business Organizations Code as long as they are correctly executed. This means that agreements can establish different rights or obligations than those typically provided under state law, giving shareholders flexibility to tailor agreements to specific needs.

Contact Our Austin Texas Shareholder Agreement Attorneys Today

Each shareholder agreement is tailored to the specific needs and structure of the company and its owners, considering the size of the business, the number of shareholders, the industry, and future business goals. It’s a foundational document that not only governs the relationship between shareholders but also plays a pivotal role in the company’s strategic management and long-term direction. Texas law allows for significant customization to fit the specific needs and expectations of the shareholders involved. These agreements are particularly potent tools in Texas, capable of overriding some standard corporate governance rules when adequately structured and agreed upon by all parties. Parties entering into or affected by such agreements should thoroughly review their terms and understand their implications, especially given their potential to deviate from standard statutory provisions. The Kumar Law Firm has experienced business law attorneys who can help you with your Shareholder Agreement and ensure it sets forth all of the essential provisions that should be included in the company’s documents. Contact our office so that we may consult with you about your particular company’s situation.

About the Author
Sanjeev Kumar is the founder and principal at the Kumar Law Firm, which provides a wide range of legal services to entrepreneurs and business owners in the area of business & corporate law and intellectual property along with related areas of interest to clients such as business succession planning, wealth preservation through estate planning, and alternate dispute resolution.