Russian Roulette – The clause for deadlock situations

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Time to read: 1 min

The majority principle, a pivotal aspect in limited companies, goes into crisis in situations where the share capital is equally divided between two opposing shareholders (50% each). In such hypotheses the approval of decisions is possible only with unanimity and this, obviously, frequently leads to deadlock situations that paralyze the management of the company.

The irreconcilable dissent among the shareholders can lead to the dissolution of the company. To avoid this, several strategies have been found, and one of these is the so-called “Russian Roulette Clause”.

The Shareholders may agree that, in deadlock situations, the Russian Roulette clause comes into play, with the effect of redistributing the shares and, consequently, starting again the business activity.

The clause provides that, upon the occurrence of certain trigger-event, one of the two shareholders (or both, if so agreed) has the power to determine the value of his/her 50% of the share capital. Consequently, he/she put the other shareholder in front of a simple choice: either buy the shares of the “offering” shareholder, at the price he/she has proposed, or sell his/her own share to the “offering” shareholder at the same price.

Who activates the Russian roulette determines the price, which remains fix. The unilateral determination of the price is balanced by the fact that the offeror does not know if she shall buy or sell at the established price: the final choice, in fact, is up to the offeree, who has not determined the price.

The author of this article is Giovannella Condò.

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