China: 对赌协议的效力及履行

Last Updated: 5 December 2019
Article by LI Hua and Zhang Zhipan

最高人民法院于2019年11月8日正式发布了《全国法院民商事审判工作会议纪要》(以下简称《九民会议纪要》),本次纪要对股权投资领域的"对赌"发布了审判指导意见,明确了投资人与目标公司的对赌协议有效,但投资人请求履行受限于股份回购或者盈利分配的原则。虽然会议纪要不是法律法规,也非司法解释,不能作为直接的裁判依据,但其是全国法院审理相关案件的重要指引。本文在阐释对赌协议及形式,梳理对赌案件审判思路变化的基础上,对对赌安排提出了针对性的建议意见,希望抛砖引玉,更好的适用对赌机制,服务于投融资活动。

一、对赌协议的概念及对赌形式

(一)对赌协议的概念

对赌协议(Valuation Adjustment Mechanism,VAM),又称估值调整机制,是金融市场普遍使用的一种投资工具。在私募股权投资中,投资方通常系财务投资,并不会直接参与公司的经营管理,投融资双方对于公司的信息以及公司的经营管理方面存在着较大的信息不对称。因此,通过一些条款的约定来保障投资方的权益,并且激励公司及创始人尽最大努力投入到公司的运营中,便成为一种有效可行的手段。对赌协议最早出现在二战时期,是华尔街推出的金融衍生品之一,之后逐渐被国际融资方和投资方认可并广泛使用,现在西方金融市场已经形成了一套较为成熟完整的对赌协议运用体系。

在国外的投融资协议中,对赌协议是企业投融资活动和并购活动中不可或缺的技术环节。投资方通过设定对赌协议,对企业未来业绩指标进行锁定,并对被投资企业管理层形成期权激励,最大可能地降低投资损失;融资方可在保持控制权的前提下获得低成本融资,实现企业的快速扩张。从操作层面看,国外投资机构一般采用"动态调整评估法"来评估企业价值。将企业价值与企业的成长性和盈利能力挂钩,通常涉及财务绩效、非财务绩效、企业行为、管理层去向、股票发行、赎回补偿等多个方面。

2002年蒙牛同摩根士丹利、鼎辉和英联三家投资机构签订了大陆第一例对赌协议,以此缓解蒙牛融资困难的窘境。对赌协议签订后,因蒙牛发展远超预期,投融资双方实现了双赢。这一成功案例大大刺激了民营企业甚至一些国有企业开始尝试这一"舶来品"投资工具。

(二)对赌的形式

对赌协议或条款常见的表现形式大致包括了现金补偿、股权调整和股权回购三种形式。

1.现金补偿

使用现金补偿是最为常见的对赌形式。该方式主要约定当融资方未能实现约定的业绩指标或非业绩指标时,融资方管理层、股东或实际控制人将向投资方给予一定数量的现金作为补偿;反之,如果融资方完成了约定的业绩或非业绩指标,则投资方用现金奖励给公司管理层或创始人股东。

2.股权调整条款

该类条款也是较为常见的对赌形式。当约定的业绩指标没有实现时,投资方可以低价增资,或投资方可以无偿或低价从融资方股东受让公司股权;反之,投资方将无偿或低价将一部分股权转让给公司股东或实际控制人。

3.股权回购条款

该条款主要以公司上市作为对赌条件,如果公司未在约定的期限内上市,融资方、股东或其实际控制人将以投资方投资款加固定回报的价格,回购投资方持有的融资方的全部股权。

二、对赌协议的效力认定

(一)法律适用及最新裁判思路

对赌协议的效力认定多发生于公司纠纷案件,多发于因触发禁止股东抽逃出资规定、违反关于股份回购强制性规定、违反关于利润分配强制性规定及无效合同或合同无效条款等规定致使对赌协议或对赌条款无效或部分无效。

根据《中华人民共和国公司法》(简称《公司法》)及最高人民法院关于适用〈中华人民共和国公司法〉若干问题的规定(三)(简称《公司法》司法解释三)关于禁止股东抽逃出资之规定,对赌协议或条款不得约定通过虚构债权债务关系或其他未经法定程序等方式直接或变相将股东出资转出,以达到股东抽逃出资的结果。

同时,最高人民法院为保护交易安全和投资安全,激发经济活力,增强投资创业信心,同时协调公司债权人、股东、公司等各利益主体之间的关系,处理好公司外部与内部的关系等目的,就民商事审判中关于对赌协议效力认定的疑难争议问题,在《九民会议纪要》中进行了进一步明确,明确了对于投资方与目标公司的股东或者实际控制人订立的对赌协议,如无其他无效事由,认定有效并支持实际履行;对投资方与目标公司订立的对赌协议在不存在法定无效事由的情况下,目标公司仅以存在股权回购或者金钱补偿约定为由主张对赌协议无效的,不予支持,但投资方主张实际履行的,投资方请求目标公司回购股权的,人民法院将依据禁止股东抽逃出资规定及禁止违反股份回购强制性规定进行审查;投资方请求目标公司承担金钱补偿义务的,人民法院将依据禁止股东抽逃出资规定及禁止违反关于利润分配强制性规定进行审查。

《九民会议纪要》的出台,进一步统一了对赌协议或条款效力认定的裁判思路,对于稳定交易,规范法官自由裁量权,增强民商事审判的公开性、透明度以及可预期性,提高司法公信力具有重要意义。

(二)典型案例

(1)甘肃世恒有色资源再利用有限公司、香港迪亚有限公司与苏州工业园区海富投资有限公司、陆波增资纠纷民事判决((2012)民提字第11号)

1.审理要点

承认投资人与目标公司股东对赌条款的效力,否认投资人与目标公司对赌条款的效力。

2.基本案情

海富公司作为投资方通过增资的方式进入目标公司众星公司(后更名为世恒公司),并与目标公司及其股东迪亚公司、法定代表人陆波签订《增资协议书》设立对赌条款,条款约定目标公司未完成业绩目标的,目标公司及股东迪亚公司应向投资方进行固定金额补偿;同时约定因目标公司未完成上市的,目标公司股东应当按约定方式及金额回购投资人全部股权。

一审法院认为对赌条款违反中外合资企业利润分配规定且损害公司利益及债权人利益,违反了法律行政法规强制性规定因而无效。海富公司不服上诉后,二审法院经审理认定就目标公司无法完成业绩目标,海富公司有权要求目标公司及股东以一定方式予以补偿的约定,违反了投资领域风险共担的原则,使得海富公司作为投资者不论目标公司经营业绩如何,均能取得约定收益而不承担任何风险,违反金融法规及合同法无效条款之规定因而无效,但海富公司基于对其承诺的合理依赖而缔约,故目标公司及股东对无效的法律后果应负主要过错责任,并将海富公司缴付并计入合资公司资本公积金的18852283元认定为"名为投资实为借贷"。世恒公司、迪亚公司不服二审判决向最高院申请再审,最高院经审理认定海富公司关于目标公司未完成业绩目标,目标公司及股东应固定补偿海富公司的约定,因违反法律行政法规禁止性规定部分无效,但目标公司股东对于海富公司的补偿承诺并不损害公司及公司债权人的利益,不违反法律法规的禁止性规定,是当事人的真实意思表示,该部分有效。同时,因二审法院认定海富公司18852283元的投资名为联营实为借贷,并判决目标公司及股东向海富公司返还该笔投资款,没有法律依据,予以纠正。

(2)江苏华工创业投资有限公司与扬州锻压机床股份有限公司、潘云虎等请求公司收购股份纠纷再审民事判决((2019)苏民再62号)

1.审理要点

本案首次承认投资人与目标公司对赌协议的效力,与最高院于2012年审理的"海富案"中投资人与股东对赌有效,与目标公司对赌协议无效的对赌效力处理原则不同。

2.基本案情

华工公司作为投资方通过增资的方式进入目标公司扬锻公司,并与目标公司签订对赌协议。目标公司在2014年12月31日前不能在境内资本市场上市,根据对赌协议约定,华工公司要求扬锻公司以现金形式回购华工公司持有的全部公司股份。

一审及二审法院均认为,案涉股权回购约定因违反《公司法》禁止性规定且违背公司资本维持和法人独立财产原则而无效。但再审法院认为,案涉对赌协议效力应认定有效。我国《公司法》并不禁止有限责任公司回购本公司股份,有限责任公司回购本公司股份不当然违反我国《公司法》的强制性规定。有限责任公司在履行法定程序后回购本公司股份,亦不会损害公司股东及债权人利益,亦不会构成对公司资本维持原则的违反。在有限责任公司作为对赌协议约定的股份回购主体的情形下,投资者作为对赌协议相对方所负担的义务不仅限于投入资金成本,还包括激励完善公司治理结构以及以公司上市为目标的资本运作等。投资人在进入目标公司后,亦应依《公司法》的规定,对目标公司经营亏损等问题按照合同约定或者持股比例承担相应责任。案涉对赌协议中关于股份回购的条款内容,是当事人特别设立的保护投资人利益的条款,属于缔约过程中当事人对投资合作商业风险的安排,系各方当事人的真实意思表示。

案涉对赌协议中关于股份回购价款约定虽为相对固定收益,但与同期企业融资成本相比并不明显过高,不存在脱离目标公司正常经营下所应负担的经营成本及所能获得的经营业绩的企业正常经营规律,不违反国家法律、行政法规的禁止性规定,不存在《中华人民共和国合同法》第五十二条规定的合同无效的情形,亦不属于合同法所规定的格式合同或者格式条款,不存在显失公平的问题。

(3)"海富案"与"华工案"对比分析

三、关于对赌协议或条款的建议及总结

(一)建议

1.对赌协议的主体范围

"华工"案承认了投资人与目标公司对赌协议的效力,因此对赌协议的主体范围相较之前有所扩大,可包含投资方与目标公司的股东或者实际控制人、投资方与目标公司、投资方与目标公司的股东及目标公司等。投资人与目标公司签订对赌协议并不必然违反《公司法》禁止性规定以及违背公司资本维持和法人独立财产原则,因而被认定无效,给予投资人在签订对赌协议时更多的选择空间,也为融资方赢得更多的融资机会。

2.对赌协议的实际履行

《九民会议纪要》虽然肯定了投资人与目标公司对赌协议的效力,但对于此类对赌协议的实际履行还需结合《公司法》关于"股东不得抽逃出资"、股份回购以及利润分配的强制性规定进行审查。就目标公司而言,明确了应当履行对赌协议的条件,融资方公司在面对投资者要求股权回购或现金补偿时,可根据公司实际情况分步骤分阶段履行,公司未来情况可预期,有利于提升原股东信心并吸引潜在投资人。

对投资人来说,对赌协议并非当然履行,需要投资人在设计对赌协议时增加相应的履约条款。例如:采取回购股权的对赌方式,建议投资方在对赌协议中明确约定,若触发股权回购的对赌条件,目标公司应当在多少个工作日内作出有关减少公司注册资本的股东会决议,并根据有关减资的法律规定,通知债权人或公告,申请工商变更登记,完成减资程序。采取金钱补偿的对赌方式,建议投资方在签订对赌协议时增加目标公司股东作为对赌协议主体或作为连带责任保证人,尽可能避免因目标公司没有利润或者虽有利润但不足以补偿投资方而导致金钱补偿不能实现的局面。

3.对赌协议的履行代价

对赌协议的本质是降低投资人投资风险,激励公司及股东努力经营的估值调整机制,在双赢目标不能达成之后对投资方权益的一种补足,投资人不可将对赌协议作为直接获利的工具,从而阻碍目标公司达成利润指标,恶意促成对赌条件成就。

因此在设置固定收益、年回报率和金钱补偿数额等方面应遵循公平原则,不能与同期公司融资成本相比明显过高,也不能脱离目标公司正常经营下所应负担的经营成本及所能获得的经营业绩的正常经营规律,反之,则可能因违反《合同法》第五十二条,导致对赌协议无效。同时,非金融机构原则上不适用罚息,投资方在已有回购利息条款足够补偿仍主张违约金且标准过高,法院也可依法予以调整。

4.对赌协议约定目标公司为投资人和控股股东股权回购提供担保

根据《公司法》第十六条第二款之规定,法律并不禁止目标公司为其股东提供担保,但要经法定程序,即必须经股东会或者股东大会决议,且被担保的股东或受实际控制人支配的股东不得参加该事项的表决,该事项表决由出席会议的其他股东所持表决权的过半数通过。

同时,要求股东股权转让不得触发抽逃出资条款,如目标公司为股东之间的股权转让提供担保,因出现受让股东不能支付股权转让款,而由目标公司先向转让股东支付股权转让款,导致目标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,将因违反《公司法》第三十五条"股东不得抽逃出资"之规定而无效。

5.对赌协议一方当事人为特殊主体且协议未经过相应审批

若对赌协议一方当事人为国有企业,因国有资产交易应以主管部门的审批作为前置程序,尤其当涉案股权回购属重大投资行为时,审批程序将构成对股权回购合同的效力要件。

6.公司上市时对赌协议的处理方法

根据中国证券监督管理委员会《首发业务若干问题解答(一)》中对于问题5的解答,证监会首次从官方层面承认了对赌协议可以作为投资协议中的一种条款,亦并未否定对赌协议的效力。因此,不能简单因对赌协议之约定与上市挂钩就否认对赌协议的效力,对赌协议在同时满足四项要求、保荐人及发行人律师就四项要求发表明确核查意见且发行人披露影响并进行风险提示后,发行人在申报前可以不清理;发生争议的,可由法院作出生效判决予以确认。

(二)总结

对赌协议作为投融资普遍采用的方式,在缓解企业融资困难、保障投资人权益等方面发挥了积极的作用。虽然我国在立法上尚未明确对赌协议的效力,但在司法实践中,对赌协议从最初认定为"名股实债"到肯定投资人与目标公司股东或实际控制人之间对赌协议的效力,再到承认投资人与目标公司对赌协议的效力,其效力问题在司法实践的过程中逐步得到了认可,也为投融资双方日后的协议安排提供了较为明确的依据。

本次最高人民法院《九民会议纪要》对于实践中对赌协议问题的把握遵循了公司"资本维持"与"债权人保护"原则相一致的原则,是对对赌协议认定的明显进步。但涉及对赌协议的履行例如强制减资等问题还需更加深入地探讨与阐释。

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  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions