China: 公司为股东间股权转让款提供担保并非当然无效

Last Updated: 1 April 2019
Article by Jiang Tao and Gu Ting
Most Read Contributor in China, March 2019

公司为其股东或实际控制人提供担保,系《公司法》第十六条第二款明确允许的行为。但在司法判例中,公司为其股东间股权转让款提供担保的效力备受质疑。最高院司法判例认为公司在上述情形下为其股东提供担保,一旦需要公司履行担保责任,则实质上会发生公司回购股权或抽逃出资的后果,这是公司法明确禁止的,因此公司为其股东间股权转让款提供担保的行为无效。而笔者认为,合同效力的认定关涉整个交易市场的安全稳定,关乎每一位市场参与人的信赖利益,应当极为审慎地使用。在笔者看来,公司为股东间股权转让款提供担保并非当然无效,谨以此文供各位参考讨论。

最高院典型案例汇总:

序号 核心内容 名称及案号 判决书主文摘要
1 公司为其股东间股权转让款提供担保的行为无效 玉门市勤峰铁业有限公司、汪高峰、应跃吾与李海平、王克刚、董建股权转让纠纷案【(2012)民二终字第39号】 李海平等三人与汪高峰、应跃吾等人原均为勤峰公司股东,其间发生股权转让由公司提供担保,即意味着在受让方不能支付股权转让款的情形下,公司应向转让股东支付转让款,从而导致股东以股权转让的方式从公司抽回出资的后果。公司资产为公司所有债权人债权的一般担保,公司法规定股东必须向公司缴纳其认缴的注册资本金数额,公司必须在公司登记机关将公司注册资本金及股东认缴情况公示,在未经公司注册资本金变动及公示程序的情形下,股东不得以任何形式用公司资产清偿其债务构成实质上的返还其投资。因此,《还款协议》中关于勤峰公司承担担保责任的部分内容,因不符合公司法的有关规定,应认定无效,勤峰公司不应承担担保责任。
2 公司为其股东对外转让股权的股权转让款提供担保的行为有效 赤峰双源矿业有限公司与杨秀玉、陈玉梅股权转让纠纷【(2014)民申字第1141-1号】 本案中,双源矿业公司承担保证责任是基于《股权转让协议》中汇丰祥矿业公司受让杨秀玉82%的股权欠款。由于汇丰祥矿业公司不是双源矿业公司的股东,故本案不存在双源矿业公司违反《中华人民共和国公司法》、《中华人民共和国担保法》等相关法律规定的事实。
3 公司为其股东间股权转让款提供担保的行为无效 郭丽华、山西邦奥房地产开发有限公司股权转让纠纷【(2017)最高法民申3671号】 《公司法》第三十五条规定公司成立后,股东不得抽逃出资。而如果公司为股东之间的股权转让提供担保,就会出现受让股权的股东不能支付股权转让款时,由公司先向转让股权的股东支付转让款,导致公司利益及公司其他债权人的利益受损,形成股东以股权转让的方式变相抽回出资的情形,有违《公司法》关于不得抽逃出资的规定。本案中,按照案涉《公司股权转让及项目投资返还协议》的约定,由邦奥公司对郭丽华付款义务承担连带责任,则意味着在郭丽华不能支付转让款的情况下,邦奥公司应向郑平凡、潘文珍进行支付,从而导致郑平凡、潘文珍以股权转让方式从公司抽回出资。

最高院上述判例一致认为,公司为其股东间股权转让款提供担保,即意味着在受让方不能支付股权转让款的情形下,公司应向转让股东支付转让款,实质上构成公司回购股权,从而导致股东以股权转让的方式从公司抽逃出资的后果。故,该等担保因违反公司法抽逃出资的规定而无效。

笔者认为,上述判例就公司为其股东间股权转让款提供担保之效力的否定值得商榷,主要依据如下:

1.公司法并未禁止公司为其股东提供担保。

《公司法》第十六条第二款规定"公司为公司股东或者实际控制人提供担保的,必须经股东会或者股东大会决议。"亦即,在公司法层面,从未禁止公司为其股东提供担保,只是需要满足特定的程序而已。

2.公司为受让股东支付股权转让款并非等同于公司回购股权。

江苏省高级人民法院公报2011年第6辑"南通轻工机械厂诉江苏黄河公司、江苏苏辰公司股东之间股权转让及公司为股东担保纠纷案"中,法院认为,公司法仅允许有限责任公司在有限的三种情形之下回购本公司的股权,公司为股东内部股权转让提供担保的行为,实际是以公司资产担保股权转让款的实现,一旦需要公司承担担保义务,则无异于以公司资产为股权转让买单,本质上发生回购本公司股权的情形,这与《公司法》将有限责任公司回购本公司股权的情形严格限定在三种情形之下的规定相违背。笔者认为,虽然公司为股东间股权转让款提供担保与公司回购股权有一定的相似之处,但本质上是不一致的。

公司履行股权转让款担保义务,为受让股东支付相应股权转让款后,其将获得对股权受让方的债权,而非成为该部分股权的股东。根据 《公司法》第一百四十二条的规定,公司收购本公司股份是指公司向股权出让方支付对价,由公司获得该部分股权。由于该部分股权系公司自身的股权,因此最终会产生股份注销/减资的效果。而在公司为受让股东支付股权转让款的情形下,所涉股权归受让股东所有,同时公司获得向受让股东追偿股权转让价款的权利,亦即公司对受让股东享有一笔债权。因此,笔者理解,公司为股东间股权转让提供担保,并不构成公司回购股权。

3.公司为股东间股权转让款提供担保并不当然会产生所谓的股东抽逃出资的后果。

资本维持原则系公司必须坚持的资本三原则之一。基于资本维持原则, 《公司法》第十六条依旧允许公司在满足一定程序要求的前提下为其股东提供担保。故而,我们有理由相信,公司为股东提供担保的行为模式本身并不会违反资本维持原则。

从抽逃出资的定义来看,有观点认为,抽逃出资是在公司成立后,股东非经法定程序,从公司抽回相当于已缴纳出资数额的财产,同时继续持有公司股份的行为 [1]。而在公司为受让股东支付股权转让款的情形下,受让股东仍持有公司股份,并不符合前述"抽逃出资"的概念。且公司为受让股东支付股权转让款后,其仍可向受让股东追偿。这种追偿权,反映在财务上就是应收账款。详言之,公司承担担保责任的,一方面导致了公司其他资产(银行资金、抵押资产、质押资产)的减少,视为营业外支出;另一方面,公司资产科目中增加了对受让股东的应收款。在对公司总资产进行核算时,公司实收资本未受到任何减损,公司总资产、净资产都没有减少。至于应收款是否能实现,是执行层面的问题,不影响资产不变的结论。因此审判实践中认定的注册资本不当减少的观点,值得商榷。

4.现有制度框架已经考虑到了上述情形下公司其他股东的利益以及债权人的利益,无需以全盘否定担保效力这一激进的方式来应对公司为受让股东提供担保的问题。

1)公司其他股东的利益可以有效保障

《公司法》第十六条规定了公司为股东提供担保的程序性要求,即必须经过股东会或股东大会决议,且明确关联股东不得参与表决。因此,若公司决议为股东间股权转让提供担保,说明除股权出让方和受让方之外的股东已然同意该等担保行为。从意思自治的角度,毋需对前述决议的效力予以否认。

2.公司债权人的利益可以有效保障

若债权人认为公司为受让股东提供的担保甚至是对担保义务的履行侵害其合法权益,其完全可以依据 《合同法》第七十四条主张债权人撤销权。

3.可依据《合同法》第五十二条认定恶意担保行为无效

若股东之间的股权转让债务确实存在虚构、恶意抽逃、套现等资产不当减少的嫌疑。则其他股东或债权人可以依据 《合同法》第五十二条的规定请求认定上述担保行为无效。

综合上述,现有司法判例大多对公司为受让股东提供担保的效力持否定观点,且基于有文首最高院判例的存在,审判实践中几乎不会再考虑上述结论是否存在瑕疵,甚至很多判决书在相关问题的论述上直接照抄。但笔者认为,公司法并未对该等担保行为进行禁止性规定,且公司为受让股东提供担保并不构成公司回购股权,亦不会导致抽逃出资的后果。同时,在现有框架下,其他股东及债权人的合法权益已然可以得到有效的保护。故,不宜当然地认定公司为其股东间股权转让提供担保的行为无效。

文中注释

[1] 赵旭东,公司法学[M]。北京:高等教育出版社,2013,250。

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