Italy: Russian roulette clause negli statuti: arriva il sí anche del Consiglio Notarile di Milano

Non è raro che nelle vicende societarie ci si possa ritrovare in situazioni di stallo decisionale (c.d. deadlock): è il caso ad esempio, delle S.r.l. in cui le partecipazioni sono detenute al 50% da due soci, che possono dunque trovarsi in disaccordo nell'adottare alcune decisioni, paralizzando di fatto la società sino a determinarne, nei casi più gravi, lo scioglimento. Una delle possibilità a disposizione dei soci per superare tale impasse è quello di inserire nello statuto la cosiddetta "russian roulette clause" o "clausola del cowboy", sulla cui legittimità si è recentemente pronunciato il Consiglio notarile di Milano con la massima n. 181 del 2019.

FUNZIONAMENTO DELLA CLAUSOLA

La russian roulette clause è una clausola tipicamente rinvenibile nella prassi dei contratti internazionali e che trae le sue origini dalle elaborazioni dottrinali e giurisprudenziali dei sistemi di common law. La russian roulette clause prevede che, in caso di deadlock, uno dei soci (o entrambi) abbia la facoltà di determinare il prezzo del trasferimento delle rispettive partecipazioni, costringendo l'altro socio alla scelta tra due alternative: (i) accettare di acquistare la quota del socio al prezzo da lui indicato, o (ii) vendere la propria partecipazione al socio allo stesso prezzo. La conseguenza pratica quindi è che uno dei due soci diventi proprietario del 100% delle quote, risolvendo così automaticamente lo stallo decisionale (c.d. way-out).

Esistono molteplici varianti della russian roulette clause, la quale può soddisfare esigenze diverse da quelle anzidette della risoluzione del deadlock decisionale. Tra queste, vi è il caso del socio detentore di un pacchetto azionario di minoranza, il quale si voglia garantire la facoltà di uscita dalla società in determinate ipotesi, come, ad esempio, nell'eventualità di mancata quotazione in Borsa della stessa entro un termine stabilito. Oppure, può addirittura essere prevista la possibilità che con l'attivazione di detta clausola i soci diano inizio ad un'escalation di offerte e controfferte maggiorate per l'acquisto delle rispettive partecipazioni, fino a che uno dei soci non desista dal formulare ulteriori controfferte e, con ciò, subisca l'altrui acquisto.

La facoltà espressa dalla clausola può: (i) essere attribuita dallo statuto ad uno o più soci, eventualmente subordinandone l'esercizio all'avverarsi di determinate condizioni; (ii) essere attribuita dall'atto costitutivo ad uno o più soci in quanto "diritto particolare" previsto ai sensi dell'art. 2468, comma 3, c.c.; o (iii) connotare una specifica categoria di azioni prevista dallo statuto sociale ai sensi dell'art. 2348 c.c.

LEGITTIMITÀ DELLA CLAUSOLA

Già nel 2017 la giurisprudenza nazionale di merito si era pronunciata circa la legittimità della russian roulette clause. In particolare, il Tribunale di Roma con la sentenza n. 19708 del 19 ottobre 2017 ne aveva affermato la validità, riconoscendola meritevole di tutela ai fini e per gli effetti di cui all'art. 1322, comma 2 c.c., in quanto consente di porre fine a rischiose situazioni di blocco dell'attività dell'organo decisionale della società.

Il Consiglio notarile di Milano, con la recente massima n. 181, ha confermato tale impostazione, aggiungendo tuttavia un rilevante elemento di precisazione al riguardo. Il Consiglio ha infatti ritenuto che la facoltà espressa della clausola possa dirsi validamente esercitata solo laddove il prezzo stabilito dal socio che attiva la clausola sia compatibile con il principio di "equa valorizzazione" della partecipazione. In altre parole, il valore della partecipazione indicato dal socio che si avvale della russian roulette clause non può essere inferiore a quello che le sarebbe attribuito nell'ipotesi di esercizio del diritto di recesso dalla società.

Il medesimo principio era del resto già stato evocato dal Consiglio tramite la sua massima n. 88 riferita alle clausole di "drag along", ed è rinvenibile ad esempio nelle norme in tema di recesso legale (artt. 2437-ter e 2473 c.c.), come in quelle di riscatto convenzionale (art. 2437-sexies c.c.) e di esclusione (art. 2473-bis c.c.).

Alla luce di quanto sopra, coloro che intendono avvalersi del meccanismo di exit previsto dalla russian roulette clause, dovranno dunque riporre particolare attenzione nella determinazione del valore da attribuire alla partecipazione, onde evitare che la conseguente compravendita sia soggetta a contestazioni e impugnazioni da parte degli altri soci o di terzi che vi abbiano interesse.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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