Entity compliance by fund business stage
Private equity funds have a limited life cycle, typically seven to fifteen years. During this time, fund managers navigate through various stages, including due diligence, marketing, the commitment or investment period, and the post-commitment or divestment period.
If you’re a fund manager, here are some of the activities you must consider:
Due diligence is significant when performing Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) searches. Even the simplest UCC searches and filings require strong attention to detail. Whether you’re conducting a single search or a more complex due diligence strategy, it’s crucial the search and filing results are clear, comprehensive, and accurate.
This process starts with the formation of the fund.
CT Tip: At this point, you will need to decide the entity type for the fund (limited partnership, LLC, corporation or trust) and the state of formation. You must also choose and reserve the entity’s name, select a Registered Agent and office, file the formation document, and apply for an EIN.
Each state has different time frames or turnaround times when it comes to filing documents. Some states offer expedited service, while others do not and may take weeks. Some states give you the date of submission as the file date, while others do not.
It's important to know the state requirements and be prepared. You may need something done tomorrow but discover that the state has a turnaround time of a week. This could impact the deal significantly.
Another step is the formation of the entity that will act as the fund manager. Similar steps are involved as in the formation of the entity that will own and operate the fund. You will then determine the terms of the fund and have legal counsel draft the offering documents, which include the limited partnership agreement or limited liability company agreement, the private placement memorandum, and the subscription agreements.
In addition, there are business license requirements that will need to be met at the start of and during the entity’s lifecycle.
This is when you’ll start deploying the fund’s capital into investments.
Growth stage followed by post-commitment or divestment
During this period you’ll hold and liquidate the fund’s investments. This doesn’t happen all at once. Rather, there are a series of liquidations over the course of several years. The divestment period can last from four to seven years after the end of the investment phase.
CT Tip: During the lifetime of the entity through which the fund is operating, compliance with the state business entity statute is required to maintain good standing. Depending upon the entity type and state, this could include filing an annual report with the state business entity filing office and paying franchise taxes.
CT offers a compliance bundle, which combines registered agent and annual report service fees for all statutory appointments and includes applicable Delaware franchise taxes on one invoice, by entity or by group of entities. All entities are kept in full compliance with fewer invoices to review and reconcile.
Filings may also be required upon certain changes, such as a name change or change of Registered Agent/office, merger, or conversion. If the fund is doing business in states outside of its state of formation, qualification to do business in those states may be required.
Many limited partnership agreements allow the fund manager to extend the term of the fund for a limited period.
CT Tip: If a term limitation is set forth in the certificate of limited partnership as well as the partnership agreement, you may need to file an amendment to that certificate with the state.
Dissolution and liquidation
At the end of the post-commitment period, unless the fund’s term is extended, the fund will be dissolved.
CT Tip: If the entity through which the fund is owned and operated (such as a limited partnership or LLC) is to be dissolved, there are various tasks that should be completed. The statutory procedure of the formation state’s business entity statute must be complied with and a cancellation of the certificate of limited partnership, or other entity formation document, will have to be filed. Licenses and permits will need to be cancelled, and taxes will have to be paid. And, there may be other requirements with the bank, investors, or at the federal level.
Formal entity dissolution is critical to reducing potential liabilities, such as business identity theft.
Compliance missteps can be costly
There are many pitfalls to navigate, and compliance missteps can result in fines, damaged reputation, and an inability to carry out business strategy or structure business deals in certain ways. Non-compliance can also jeopardize the ability to attract investors or lead to loss of a deal.
For instance, failing to properly dissolve an entity pursuant to its business entity statute can lead to the risk of commercial or corporate identity theft, which can result in financial liabilities. Businesses that are not formally dissolved also risk sanctions from states. A failure to satisfy corporate or LLC filing requirements, taxes, etc. may result in additional fines or penalties. To add further complexity, compliance requirements can also vary by state.
Given these considerations, it’s important to find a trusted partner to guide you when navigating the funds and alternative investments compliance landscape. A partner that can remain independent between the lender and borrower — as well as being experienced and knowledgeable in their industry.