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UK Budget Predictions – What Should we Expect to Happen to Entrepreneurs’ Relief?

Following the cabinet reshuffle last week seeing Sajid Javid resign, there was speculation as to whether his successor, Rishi Sunak, would deliver the budget on time. However, it has now been confirmed that the budget will go ahead on the 11th March, giving the new chancellor just three weeks to fine tune his budget.

It is expected that Sunak will rewrite some of Javid’s budget, relaxing some constraints, although he is under pressure from the government to tax the wealthy to cater towards additional spending.

One of the pledges the government made during its election campaign was to reform Entrepreneurs' Relief over concerns it is overly generous to the wealthy and has been criticised due to its unexpected cost to the treasury and failure to meet its policy objectives.

As a brief overview, the policy reduces the rate of Capital Gains Tax from 20% to 10% on the first £10m of gains from disposals of qualifying business assets – which can save up to £1m.

The good news for business owners is the policy is unlikely to be eliminated as the Conservative Party’s policy was to ‘review and reform’ and the relief has always been conceived as a key incentive to entrepreneurs, and encouraging enterprise has always been a priority for UK policy makers. As well, when Entrepreneurs' Relief was first introduced, it replaced business assets taper relief which itself replaced retirement relief, therefore it is likely that a similar relief will be introduced in Entrepreneurs’ Relief stead.

Despite the above speculation, we will not know until the budget is delivered the extent of the reforms. While the simplest way to protect against any changes would be to secure an unconditional exchange of contracts ahead of budget day, if an exit strategy has not already been considered and with only three weeks to go, this is becoming increasingly unlikely. Therefore, any business looking to take advantage of the current Entrepreneurs’ Relief rate should seek specialist professional advice as soon as possible and consider exit options in advance of the 11th March.

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New GDPR Regulations in Europe: What Does This Mean for M&A?

On the 25th May 2018, a new data protection regulation (the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive with the aim of protecting the personal data and privacy of EU citizens. It must be adhered to by all companies conducting business in the EU, regardless of the location in which they operate.

So, in the context of M&A activity, how will this affect you? One of the changes places a heavier emphasis on the privacy of a company’s customers; therefore, companies will be scrutinised on how they collect, store, use and transfer personal data. The knock-on effect this then has is that during a transaction, an acquirer will carry out even more comprehensive checks on the target, examining internal data protection systems and processes and undertaking checks on contracts with suppliers and subcontractors, which must comply with the new regulation.

This is in an acquirer’s best interest, as they inherit any existing data protection liabilities from the seller post-sale and the penalties for a breach are steep, attracting a maximum fine of either €20m, or 4% of global turnover, depending on whichever figure is highest.

It also will have an effect on the communicating of personal data during the due diligence process between an acquirer and seller. Personal data can now only be disclosed if the acquirer can show a legitimate interest. While in the M&A process, an acquirer can prove that they do have a legitimate interest in the data this is unlikely to extend to every individual involved in the business, instead just encompassing members of the organisation such a managers. Care then has to still be taken to not personally identify any individual outside of this remit, so a seller must make sure they are cautious not to identify individual customers or employees and suitably anonymise this data.

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The 2017 Spring Budget

Phillip Hammond of the British Conservative Party has delivered his first budget, outlining the governments plans for both the economy and public finances. We at Benchmark International have put together a summary of all this, highlighting the most important points and explaining just what kind of impact they will have on the average taxpayer.

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Fox approaches its first hurdle in its bid to take over Sky

The announcement in December of last year that Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox was positioned for a full takeover of Sky was hardly one of the most popular deal announcements of 2016, and most certainly the least surprising. The £11.7bn bid has proved to be a contentious one, and Murdoch and co. have now reached one of their first major hurdles in the deal process in the form of competition authorities.

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M&A and U.K. start-ups: where next for the beginners?

The U.K has a vibrant start-up culture, with an estimated 600,000 new companies set up in 2015. A whole host of factors have powered this part of the economy. Many U.K. industries are world leaders, for example the recruitment sector, while the E.U. freedom of movement drew on human capital from across the continent. The development of new challengers in different industries and sectors plays a key role in stimulating M&A activity, with buyers attracted for reasons from exciting IP to up-and-coming talent. Established companies may find it difficult to truly innovate in-house, so M&A may also give the opportunity to roll-out acquired new products or services in support of their existing operations.

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