The Middle Ground

A GUIDE TO DEAL TERMS IN PLAIN ENGLISH


+ Introduction

+ Purchase and Sale

+ Closing

+ Representations & Warranties - Seller

+ Representations & Warranties - Buyer

+ Covenants

+ Conditions to Closing

+ Indemnification

+ Termination

+ Miscellaneous

Indemnification by Buyer


Classification: Deal Driver
Section: Indemnification
Negotiation Time: Minimal to Moderate
Transaction Costs: Insignificant to Intermediate
Major Impact: Risk Management


What is This? Indemnification is used to enforce representations and promises made in the Agreement. Here, the parties list out which breaches by the Buyer are subject to the Seller’s right to indemnification.

The Middle Ground: Much like the previous provision, this one requires the Buyer to indemnify the Seller, its Affiliates, and its Representatives for any Losses caused by an inaccuracy or breach of the Buyer’s representations, warranties, covenants, and other Buyer obligations that the parties agree will be covered by indemnification. The provision is meant to mirror the “Indemnification by Seller” section, with the only difference being the list of items for which indemnification is available.

Purpose: While the Buyer is usually the party most concerned with managing the risk that accompanies the transaction, there are significant areas of risk that the Seller has to deal with as well. Often, that risk is allocated to the Buyer through other pieces of the Agreement because the Buyer is in the best position to control it. This clause gives effect to the risk allocation agreed upon by the parties by providing the Seller with a relatively quick and simple method of recouping damages caused by a Buyer’s breach or misrepresentation.

Buyer Preference: Ideally, the Buyer wants this list to be as short as possible. In practice, the categories listed above will likely all be included because they all represent issues associated with potential liabilities, and they are the areas within the Buyer’s control. Furthermore, if there are any additional issues listed in the Seller’s indemnification section for which the Buyer has a reciprocal responsibility, the Buyer can expect for those issues to be included here since this provision is meant to mirror the Indemnification by Seller provision.

Seller Preference: The Seller wants the Buyer’s responsibilities to extend to any situation where the Seller could lose money due to the actions of the Buyer. For example, if the Seller leases a piece of land from a third party and the landowner requires the Buyer to sublease that land from the Seller rather than take it by assignment (perhaps because the landowner knows the Seller but not the Buyer), the Seller could end up being responsible for unpaid rent if the Buyer fails to live up to its obligations. Typically, the Buyer’s duty to pay rent will be established elsewhere in the Agreement, so it need not be listed separately here, but the Seller would want it listed here if not previously addressed.

Differences in a Stock Sale Transaction Structure: None.


DISCUSSION

We want The Middle Ground to be an ongoing dialogue for and resource to the lower middle market M&A community. The outline above is generally applicable, but there is always specific case law and nuance around certain industries that can be useful in helping buyers and sellers come together. If you are a lawyer or deal professional, we encourage you to add your perspective below.