Family Office & International Wealth Structuring
A WIDELY DISCUSSED CONSTITUTION IS LESS LIKELY TO BE CHALLENGED
Our client, the head of a substantial family business, wanted to make sure that his family used his wealth according to his wishes. As well as a substantial trading business the family wealth included substantial property and investment portfolios. We arranged a series of family meetings to hear the family’s views on several points, including how to manage the succession of the family business.
The end result was a series of practical steps to take, including setting up a family office and a family constitution that the family understood, and – given their involvement in it – was less likely to be challenged. We carefully defined the services the family office would provide and drafted contracts with the third party advisers, with a focus on confidentiality and service levels, and made sure the family office complied with its regulatory obligations.
Wealth Transfer Planning
WEALTH TRANSFER PLANNING FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
We assisted the owners of a corporate client on wealth transfer planning leading up to the closing of its sale to another company.
Our lawyers handled the estate tax planning that the family established, allowing the family to pass interests in the company to trusts for the benefit of their children and grandchildren without paying any gift tax, which resulted in almost $380 million of the sale proceeds allocated to trusts for future generations.
In addition, the family passed over $90 million to charity prior to the sale of the company, while retaining a 6% income interest for life in over half of the charitable gifts, avoiding capital gains tax on the full amount of the gifts and resulting in an income tax deduction of over $30 million, which will be applied to the clients’ own capital gains tax resulting from the sale of the business when they pay their income taxes.
Family Asset Protection
WINNING A RECORD HK$1.2 BILLION HONG KONG DIVORCE SETTLEMENT
Led the international team representing a solicitor, Florence Tsang, in a landmark divorce case. This team secured the highest ever litigated divorce award in Hong Kong’s history, involving assets of almost US$1 billion.
Most of the six week High Court trial was heard in public, and the case eventually went to the Hong Kong’s supreme court, the Court of Final Appeal. It has been the main catalyst for a heightened interest in responsible asset preservation planning in Hong Kong and Asia – and particularly in the use of Pre- and Post-nuptial agreements.
Private Equity / Capital / Banks
ONE GOOD DEAL DESERVES ANOTHER
We advised a consortium including a family office, management shareholders and debt providers on the acquisition of a £300m+ logistics and sales operation, and the onward sale of part of the business to a listed company. The Family Office provided the vast majority of the equity, and also provided ongoing management for the acquired business. The acquisition and onward sale were successful, and the family office are now looking at further deals in the sector with several of the consortium members.
CAREFUL PLANNING FOR A £40M PROPERTY REDEVELOPMENT
Our non-UK client decided to buy a £40m property. It was undergoing extensive redevelopment – including an underground car park, a swimming pool, and complex IT systems – but the work would not be finished when the deal was signed.
We made sure our client would not get caught in expensive construction wrangles. The contract stipulated a significant retention from the purchase price, that would only be paid out as works were completed, and included warranties for construction work. We advised on holding-structures that would mitigate tax and avoid succession issues.
Middle East / Sharia
We advised a UAE UHNW family (cGBP 5 billion plus) on the creation of suitable asset holding structures for their worldwide assets. We created Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”) structures for UAE assets. Our client also wanted to establish a Shari’a compliant governance and succession structure for the family’s trading group. We worked closely with Shari’a scholars and the family to create a structure that reflected the family’s wishes and complied with Shari’a law – both in terms of succession and investment.
CHARITABLE FOUNDATIONS NEED CLEAR GOVERNANCE
Our client wanted to set aside a portion of his wealth, on behalf of his family, for charitable purposes. We set up a charitable foundation and put a governance paper in place to make sure his objectives – for the charity and the funds – were clear.
He appointed his children to the board to help them understand financial responsibility and they now control most of the family donations.
REVISED TRUST POWERS CAN HELP BOTH SIDES WORK TOGETHER
A family business was held and run by non-UK trustees. The trustees worked hard to balance commercial risk against the long-term interests of the beneficiaries. Yet the beneficiaries felt the trustees’ decision-making process on key commercial matters was slow and expensive, and that this was affecting the business.
Our solution was to create a family advisory board and amend the trust to give the advisory board powers over key business decisions. This helped the beneficiaries and trustees to work together and preserve the business for the family.