Selling a business: Every­thing you need to know about selling your life’s work

KERN M&A Erfolgsgarantie

The sale of a compa­ny in 10 steps [Video]

Do you want to avoid costly mista­kes when selling your business? KERN supports you with a practi­ce-proven M&A process from the targe­ted search for a buyer to the secure conclu­si­on of the contract on the way to your new and finan­ci­al­ly carefree life. This is how the compa­ny sale (M&A) becomes your greatest success.

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At first we tried to do it oursel­ves, but we undere­sti­ma­ted that”.

Learn how the successful sale of the compa­ny Acoustic­pearls has enabled the founders to create a comple­te­ly new life model and reali­se their dream.

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Sustainable success is also due to first-class advice”.

Former German Presi­dent Chris­ti­an Wulff congra­tu­la­tes KERN on once again being named a TOP Consultant.

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Siegel Beste Berater für Unternehmensnachfolge
Siegel Top Unternehmensnachfolge Beratung
Beste Berater - Auszeichnung SZ Institut
German Customer-Awards 2024

How business succes­si­on becomes a success
will. The expert guide for
Family business.

Concen­tra­ted exper­ti­se and compact infor­ma­ti­on incl. a compa­ny sale check­list. 25 M&A advisors from KERN have compi­led the most important infor­ma­ti­on for your successful Compa­ny sale proce­du­re summa­ri­sed. NEW: Now inclu­ding exten­si­ve Compa­ny sale checklist

Compa­ny sale consul­ting: The tried and tested M&A process from KERN. Get your freedom in a new future now.


Fitness check and value enhancement

Fitness check with Compa­ny sale check­list for the exami­na­ti­on of salea­bi­li­ty and compa­ny valua­ti­on accor­ding to recog­nis­ed proce­du­res as well as deter­mi­na­ti­on of the sales strategy (e.g. bidding procedure).

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Unter­neh­mens­be­wer­tung  nach verschie­de­nen Verfahren

Creati­on of a sales-effec­ti­ve Compa­ny sale exposés (Infor­ma­ti­on Memoran­dum) and an anony­mous short profi­le to address prospec­ti­ve buyers. Becau­se the first impres­si­on is decisive.

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Verkaufs­pro­zess und Unter­nehmens­verkauf - Exposé

Identi­fy­ing, coordi­na­ting and approa­ching poten­ti­al buyers as well as the targe­ted search in the best Compa­ny sale exchan­ges.

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Who is the best buyer for your company?

Exami­na­ti­on of suita­ble offers and negotia­ti­ons with the best possi­ble interes­ted parties until the conclu­si­on of a preli­mi­na­ry agree­ment (LOI)

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The letter of intent (LoI) or decla­ra­ti­on of intent

Due diligence by the buyer, negotia­ti­on and conclu­si­on of the transac­tion Compa­ny purcha­se agree­ment.

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Durch­füh­rung einer Due Dilli­gence Prüfung

The follow-up to the compa­ny takeover, such as integra­ti­on of teams, synchro­ni­sa­ti­on of missi­on state­ments, etc.

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Kaufver­trag und das Finale im Firmenverkauf

Exami­na­ti­on of suita­ble offers and negotia­ti­ons with the best possi­ble interes­ted parties until the conclu­si­on of a preli­mi­na­ry agree­ment (LOI)

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Post merger integration

Due diligence by the buyer, negotia­ti­on and conclu­si­on of the transac­tion Compa­ny purcha­se agree­ment.

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Was ist Ihr Lebens­werk heute bei einem Verkauf wert?

Jetzt Unter­neh­mens­wert-Berech­nung GRATIS starten 

Referen­ces and testi­mo­ni­als from the field of compa­ny sales

The project included the prepa­ra­ti­on of the sale, compa­ny valua­ti­on, buyer search and approach as well as the organi­sa­ti­on and modera­ti­on of the entire sales process up to the final drafting of the contract.

The M&A project, which recei­ved an award from Wirtschafts­wo­che, was successful­ly comple­ted in less than 11 months. 

The mecha­ni­cal enginee­ring compa­ny was successful­ly sold within 15 months. The project included the comple­te sales process.

Known from numerous publications

Basic infor­ma­ti­on on the sale of compa­nies in the SME sector

Many entre­pre­neurs ask themsel­ves whether and when they should sell their life’s work or not. Especi­al­ly in times of pande­mic and world politi­cal changes. The decis­i­on is often diffi­cult becau­se many factors have to be taken into account. In the follo­wing guide you will learn basic infor­ma­ti­on about selling a compa­ny in the SME sector and which points you should consider.

Market situa­ti­on in Germany

The low-interest phase has led to more and more inves­tors looking for lucra­ti­ve invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. The German market for compa­ny sales has grown conti­nuous­ly in recent years. Most compa­ny sales have been in the indus­try and trade sectors. Experts assume that this trend will conti­nue in the coming years.

The concept of Compa­ny succes­si­on is the “headline” for the topic of succes­si­on in the German-speaking world. It is unders­tood to mean the sale of a compa­ny, a genera­ti­on change within the family and also the purcha­se of a compa­ny. It is important to clari­fy this in terms of content for the use of language in a joint exchange.

The compa­ny sale process

Once you have decided to sell your business, it is important to plan the sales process careful­ly. In the follo­wing sections we will take a closer look at the typical process of selling a business.

A guide to durati­on: If the prepa­ra­ti­ons for your business sale, such as the valua­ti­on, teaser and exposé prepa­ra­ti­on are done quick­ly, a comple­te transac­tion can be comple­ted in 6-8 months.

The standard value for a typical Compa­ny sale proce­du­re of our sales manda­tes is 1 to 1.5 years.

There are also excep­ti­ons, which can take 2 to 3 years and just need more time for the compa­ny sale due to speci­fic features.

And someti­mes the phase of “letting go” alone requi­res a certain amount of time and a longer lead time for the trans­fer­or. We recom­mend a stimu­la­ting book by KERN founder Nils Koerber:

Start prepa­ring in good time

It is never too early to start prepa­ring for the sale of your business. The earlier you start, the better you can prepa­re your business for sale. One of the most important things you can do when targe­ting your Sell compa­ny want to do is to contact an experi­en­ced business advisor as early as possi­ble. This advisor can help you deter­mi­ne the possi­ble price for your business and develop the best strategy for the sale. Someti­mes it can also be the start for a sustainable increase in value (e.g. scaling the business model) and a compa­ny needs time for this.

Reason for sale and M&A strategy

There are many reasons to sell a business. Perhaps you have reached a certain point in your life where you want to retire. Maybe you are having finan­cial diffi­cul­ties, health is no longer playing along or you want to get out of an unhap­py business. Or maybe you just see a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to sell your business for a good price.

It is important that you make an infor­med decis­i­on to sell.

The appro­pria­te M&A strategy (sale to an MBI = Manage­ment Buy In / MBO = Manage­ment Buy Out,  Strate­gen oder Finanz­in­ves­tor) ist zudem ein wesent­li­cher Bestand­teil des Unter­neh­mens­ver­kaufs. Diese Strate­gie beinhal­tet die Planung, die Selek­ti­on der Zielgrup­pe und die Durch­füh­rung eines Verkaufs an einen Käufer, der das Unter­neh­men übernimmt und weiter­führt. Die M&A Strate­gie ist eine wichti­ge Kompo­nen­te für den erfolg­rei­chen Verkauf Ihres Unter­neh­mens und sollte sorgfäl­tig geplant werden.

The genera­tio­nal change is a sensi­ti­ve topic that requi­res a lot of tact. If you decide to pass on your business to a family member, you need to make sure that everyo­ne invol­ved plays with their cards on the table. It is important that everyone’s expec­ta­ti­ons are clear­ly defined so that there are no misun­derstan­dings. Once roles are distri­bu­ted and respon­si­bi­li­ties are clear­ly defined, the genera­tio­nal transi­ti­on can go smoothly.

It may be advisa­ble for those concer­ned to attend a special seminar for their own clari­ty and future options:

Inform yours­elf thorough­ly in advan­ce about the entire M&A process.  Je besser die Vorbe­rei­tung ist, desto erfolg­rei­cher wird auch der Unternehmensverkauf.

What causes compa­ny sales to fail?

A business sale can fail for many reasons. The most common reasons are:

  1. The compa­ny values were not correct­ly assessed.
  2. The sales process was not done properly.
  3. The expec­ta­ti­ons of the sellers or buyers were too high.
  4. There is no future strategy for the business model.
  5. The buyer was not willing to take the risk of a business transfer.
  6. The terms of the contract were not fair.
  7. The cultu­re of the compa­ny did not fit the buyer.

Identi­fy deal break­ers and problems

Before you focus on selling your business, you should first identi­fy some problems that might deter poten­ti­al buyers. These problems can be called “deal break­ers” and are often the reason why a business is not sold.

Identi­fy these problems early and fix them before you start the sales process. This way you increase the likeli­hood that your business will be sold successfully.

Tuee 7 häufigs­ten Deal Breaker 

  1. Das Unter­neh­men ist in einer schlech­ten finan­zi­el­len Lage
  2. There is no growth potential
  3. There is an enorm­ous invest­ment backlog
  4. Die Produk­te oder Dienst­leis­tun­gen sind veraltet
  5. Ein Know-How-Trans­fer kann nicht gewähr­leis­tet werden
  6. Das Unter­neh­men ist abhän­gig von einigen wenigen Kunden
  7. Es gibt Proble­me mit dem Manage­ment oder den Mitarbeitern

Diese Kosten entste­hen beim Unternehmensverkauf 

  1. Business valua­ti­on
  2. Erstel­lung eines Firmen Exposés
  3. Anspra­che von Kaufinteressenten
  4. Durch­füh­rung Due Diligence
  5. Vertrags­ver­hand­lung
  6. Steuer­be­ra­tung
  7. Erstel­lung LOl (Absichts­er­klä­rung)
  8. Unter­neh­mens­kauf­ver­trag (Anwalts­kos­ten)
  9. Notar­kos­ten (übernimmt Käufer)
  10. Erfolgs­pro­vi­si­on (abzgl. bishe­ri­ger Kosten)


If you decide to sell your business, you also need to deal with the finan­cial aspects of the sale. This includes deter­mi­ning the selling price, finding a buyer and handling the sale.

Reduce depen­dence on the business owner

Reducing depen­dence on the business owner means organi­s­ing your business so that it can function without you. To this end, it is advisa­ble to build a manage­ment team that is capable of running the business successful­ly. Creating standar­di­sed proces­ses and systems can also help reduce depen­dence on the business owner. Without a second level of manage­ment, the value of a compa­ny tends to decrease.

Business valua­ti­on

For small and medium-sized enter­pri­ses, there are current­ly two main proce­du­res for Calcu­la­te enter­pri­se value the capita­li­sed earnings value method and the AWH method in the skilled crafts sector.

At KERN, we specia­li­se in the income capita­li­sa­ti­on approach accor­ding to IDWS1 as well as KFS/BW1 and have alrea­dy prepared hundreds of appraisals for business valuations.

Wir bieten Ihnen aus der Fülle unserer Trans­ak­tio­nen online auch gratis einen Unter­neh­mens­wert­rech­ner für eine erste Einschät­zung an. Die Werte basie­ren auf dem sogenann­ten Multi­pli­ka­tor­ver­fah­ren, welches aus unzäh­lig vielen Trans­ak­tio­nen im Mittel­stand errech­net wird. KERN ist z.B. auch einer der Daten­lie­fe­ran­ten für das renom­mier­te FINANCE-MAGAZIN, welches die aktuel­len FINANCE Multi­ples (please note the column “small caps”). - compa­nies with annual sales of less than 50 million).

Start enter­pri­se value calcu­la­ti­on FREE OF CHARGE

For what reason do you want to calcu­la­te the enter­pri­se value?

Calcu­la­te enter­pri­se value: Multi­ple method, capita­li­sed earnings value and net asset value

In princi­ple, the valua­ti­on of a compa­ny can be carri­ed out in diffe­rent ways. Another common method is the so-called multi­ple method. Here the Business valua­ti­on The results are compared with those of peer compa­nies that have similar business models. This proce­du­re is suita­ble for a first, quick indication.

The capita­li­sed earnings value accor­ding to IDWS1 is a method of deter­mi­ning the value of a compa­ny based on future earnings. The capita­li­sed earnings value is usual­ly calcu­la­ted by multi­ply­ing the avera­ge annual profit by a capita­li­sa­ti­on factor. The capita­li­sa­ti­on factor is usual­ly calcu­la­ted by experts and takes into account factors such as the company’s growth rate, the company’s risks and the general market situation.

The net asset value of a compa­ny is the diffe­rence between the current value of its assets and its liabi­li­ties. This value can be influen­ced by a number of diffe­rent factors, inclu­ding profi­ta­bi­li­ty, future prospects and demand for the product or service.

Value enhance­ment

A compa­ny is more than just the sum of its parts. The value of a compa­ny also depends on factors such as its employees, its custo­mer base, its locati­on or business model and its reputa­ti­on. Soft and hard factors together deter­mi­ne the optimal value of a compa­ny. These factors can be increased through clever measures.

The first factor is time and thus especi­al­ly the strate­gic prepa­ra­ti­on for a compa­ny sale.

The brand value of a compa­ny can be increased, for examp­le, through a successful marke­ting campaign. Invest­ments in the expan­si­on or moder­ni­sa­ti­on of the product range can also positively influence the market value.

Book your place here now in a free online seminar by the specia­lists for Compa­ny succes­si­on: The 7 most expen­si­ve mista­kes in business valuation.

Taxati­on of the sale of a company

The taxati­on of the sale of a business can be a complex matter. It is important to consult with a tax advisor or other finan­cial profes­sio­nal before selling your business. If you want to poten­ti­al­ly save tax, you need time to prepare.

Compa­ny sale taxes

How high the taxes are at the Compa­ny sale The tax burden on the sale of a compa­ny is so indivi­du­al and varied that it is not possi­ble to give a detail­ed account of it in the near future.

The formal level alone, e.g. whether it is an asset or share deal, a partner­ship or a corpo­ra­ti­on, creates diffe­rent frame­work condi­ti­ons for taxes in a compa­ny sale.

Last but not least, there are country-speci­fic issues to consider, whereby the KERN Group in the D-A-CH region in parti­cu­lar offers additio­nal added value here with its broad expertise.

For this reason, we have written a detail­ed artic­le on the important topic of Compa­ny sale taxes created.

Capital gain

When you sell your business, you can usual­ly expect a substan­ti­al capital gain. This profit is the amount you have left over after selling your business and covering all debts and other obliga­ti­ons. You usual­ly also have to pay tax on the capital gain.

Sell limit­ed liabi­li­ty company

Especi­al­ly if you have a Sell limit­ed liabi­li­ty compa­ny there are a few points you should pay atten­ti­on to. First of all, you should consider whether you want to sell the business comple­te­ly or only parti­al­ly. Entre­pre­neurs decide, for examp­le, to sell only Sell GmbH shares to want to conti­nue to have a share in the profits or also to delay the perso­nal letting go a little longer. 

55 years scheme / allowance

If you have reached the age of 55, you can claim the tax-free allowan­ce accor­ding to $16 para. 4 EStG once in your life. The tax-free amount is 45,000 euros. If your profit from the sale is more than 136,000 euros, the tax-free amount is reduced by these additio­nal proceeds. If the proceeds from the sale are more than 181,000 euros, the tax-free allowan­ce does not apply at all.

How can the tax be calculated?

For examp­le, if you sell shares in your GmbH that are held as business assets, the parti­al income proce­du­re appli­es. This means that only 60 percent of the profit from the sale is subject to income tax:

If the shares are in the priva­te assets of a share­hol­der, it must first be exami­ned whether the person holds a substan­ti­al share in the compa­ny. A share in a GmbH of 1 per cent or more is a substan­ti­al share.

Even in the case of a substan­ti­al parti­ci­pa­ti­on in a compa­ny, the sale of the share in the compa­ny is subject to the parti­al income procedure.

Dispo­sal price 

750.000 ?

Share capital (min.)

25.000 ?

Lawyers & Tax Consultants

20.000 ?

Other costs, e.g. M&A advisors

15.000 ?

= Capital gain

690.000 ?

Taxable amount (60 %)

414.000 ?

In this examp­le, 410,000 ? must there­fo­re be taxed at the perso­nal tax rate.

Wenn Sie weniger als 1% der Antei­le an einer GmbH besit­zen, fällt eine Abgel­tungs­steu­er von 25% zuzüg­lich Solida­ri­täts­zu­schlag und Kirchen­steu­er an. Wenn die Antei­le an der GmbH vor 2009 erwor­ben wurden, ist der Verkauf steuer­frei. Übrigens: Mehr Infor­ma­tio­nen dazu finden Sie in einem unserem Artikel Sell GmbH Taxes.

Infor­ma­ti­on Memoran­dum / Exposé

We recom­mend prepa­ring two types of documents in advance:

  1. A kind of neutral short descrip­ti­on (teaser) of the compa­ny for sale, which does not reveal the identi­ty, but conta­ins the business model and the most important key data and has the task of making possi­ble target groups curious about this offer.
  2. A detail­ed Compa­ny Exposé to prepa­re a report on the compa­ny that clear­ly shows the past, present and future of the compa­ny. Balan­ce sheet figures for the last 3 years and target figures for further development.

Likewi­se, the Infor­ma­ti­on Memoran­dum or exposé show strengths and weakne­s­ses and at the same time whet the appeti­te of the reader, i.e. inves­tor and poten­ti­al compa­ny buyer. The compa­ny buyer should there­fo­re want to learn more about your compa­ny and further arguments can be found in a direct exchange.

Find a successor

There are plenty of options for selling a business.

Banks and savings banks, but also chambers (e.g. in Austria the Chamber of Commer­ce with its own succes­sor exchan­ge or in Germa­ny the stock exchan­ge Nexxt-Change), lawyers and tax advisors can be a contact for your compa­ny sale. Ask your tax advisor and lawyer speci­fi­cal­ly about their experi­ence in M&A matters. One transac­tion a year does not neces­s­a­ri­ly mean that you can call on real experi­ence in depth.

Strate­gic inves­tors from an indus­try can also be a place to start. For examp­le, if you have a Sell construc­tion compa­ny construc­tion groups could be conside­red as investors.

At KERN, for examp­le, we have a data pool of well over 300,000 verified inves­tor profiles that are speci­fi­cal­ly looking for a Compa­ny takeover or parti­ci­pa­ti­on are.

And there is the option of testing the current market value of your business comple­te­ly anony­mously using a special KERN proce­du­re and only deciding later whether you really want to sell.

The details for the neutral and anony­mous proce­du­re develo­ped by KERN, can be found under MARKET-VALUE-CHECK.

Strate­gic investor

There are two main types of buyers who may be interes­ted in selling a business: strate­gic inves­tors and priva­te buyers. Each has their own reasons for buying and each brings their own strengths and weakne­s­ses. It is important to under­stand which type of buyer is right for you before you start the sales process.

strate­gic inves­tor is usual­ly a larger compa­ny inves­t­ing in your business to expand and streng­then it. This can be achie­ved by purcha­sing new product lines, building new produc­tion facili­ties or taking over a compe­ti­tor. Employee poten­ti­al also plays a parti­cu­lar­ly important role for this investor.

A strate­gic inves­tor is usual­ly not interes­ted in short-term profit and may be willing to invest in your compa­ny to streng­then it in the long term.

Compa­ny exchange

compa­ny exchan­ges, such as or and also the Compa­ny exchan­ge from KERN offer a good option for a neutral buyer search. 

There are only a few market­places that we would really like to recom­mend from our experi­ence and conviction.

Just try 

This compa­ny exchan­ge is free of charge and there­fo­re has a very wide range of buyers and sellers (KERN is one of the few offici­al service provi­ders there with its own online access). However, not every adver­ti­ser always responds. Please be patient! Respon­ses are volun­t­a­ry and cannot be forced.

Or  as a sales platform for compa­nies with costs for an adver­ti­se­ment. However, this also filters the quali­ty of buyers and sellers to a certain extent (KERN is also one of the selec­ted premi­um partners of the first hour here).

By the way, buyers and inves­tors for a compa­ny acqui­si­ti­on can regis­ter for the KERN data pool free of charge. Simply send an e-mail to We will then send you a free link to your speci­fic search profile.

You can extend yours­elf via the free subscrip­ti­on to our various Newslet­ter and never miss out on an offer for a Compa­ny sale or Compa­ny acqui­si­ti­on.

Exami­na­ti­on of the purcha­se offers

Before you decide on a buyer, you should careful­ly check which offer best suits your needs and wishes. Make sure that the purcha­se price is fair and that all the terms of the offer are clear and under­stan­da­ble. If you feel unsure, you should consult a Compa­ny succes­si­on lawyerM&A experts or tax advisors to careful­ly consider the offer.

Also pay atten­ti­on to whether the offer is paid immedia­te­ly or in instal­ments. If it is paid in instal­ments, make sure that the instal­ments (as Earn Out regula­ti­on often orien­ted to key figures of the future) can also be reali­sti­cal­ly achie­ved for you as a seller.

Short list and first negotia­ti­on talks

After you have taken the first step towards selling your business and have created a “short list” of poten­ti­al buyers, it is time to start negotia­ting. This can be an emotio­nal­ly challen­ging process, but with the right prepa­ra­ti­ons you can focus on getting the best for your business and your future.

Before you start negotia­ting, you should ask yours­elf a few questi­ons: What kind of sales offer is most important to you? The first negotia­ti­on is the one in which you present your business. It is very important that you prepa­re for this conver­sa­ti­on becau­se there is a lot to discuss. First, you should make a short list of the points you want to discuss with the buyer.

Check­lis­te: Was der Verkäu­fer im LOI absichert 

  1. The exact EXIT regulation
  2. Wesent­li­che Garan­tien des Käufers
  3. Verbind­lich­keit der Transaktion
  4. Geheim­hal­tung und Abwerbeverbot
  5. Projekt­be­tei­lig­te und Kommunikationswege
  6. Den genau­en Zeitplan

Letter of Intent

The English term Letter of Intent is repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the letter of intent that buyers and sellers should agree on at an early stage of getting to know each other.

This avoids misun­derstan­dings in an inten­ded compa­ny sale and usual­ly separa­tes the wheat from the chaff. Although the so-called LoI (Letter of Intent) is not legal­ly binding, it obliges the buyer and seller to formu­la­te important contents and parame­ters for a possi­ble succes­si­on arran­ge­ment in a forth­co­ming transac­tion and thus to agree on a common clari­ty regar­ding the goals of the follo­wing discus­sions in the sale of the company.

Due Diligence Process 

  1. Klären der Ziele und Fokus­punk­te (Vorrech­cher­che)
  2. Prüfung der Teilbe­rei­che (z.B. Tax Due
    Diligence, Finan­cial Due Diligence, usw.)
  3. Zusam­men­stel­len der Prüfungsergebnisse
  4. Präsen­ta­ti­on der Ergeb­nis­se (z.B. SWOT
  5. Conclu­si­on and recommendations

Due Diligence and Due Diligence Checklist

This term descri­bes the buyer’s exami­na­ti­on phase in the sale of a company.

You can find detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on on this important topic on our page on the subject of Due Diligence. We have also put together an exten­si­ve Due Diligence Check­list available for download.

Check­lis­te Unter­nehmens­verkauf. Inhal­te Compa­ny purcha­se agreement

  1. Präzi­se Benen­nung aller Vertragsparteien
  2. Set dates for signing and closing
  3. Alle Bedin­gun­gen und Fristen festhalten
  4. Fixer und varia­bler Kaufpreis definieren
  5. Garan­tien, Haftun­gen und Zusicherungen
  6. Regelun­gen für Übergangszeiträume
  7. Ausschüt­tun­gen von Gewin­nen genau regeln
  8. Non-compe­ti­ti­on clause
  9. Mitwir­kungs­pflich­ten des Verkäufers
  10. Timeta­ble for implementation

Compa­ny purcha­se agreement

Every compa­ny purcha­se agree­ment is indivi­du­al and differs, for examp­le, if you are selling a limit­ed liabi­li­ty compa­ny or a sole proprie­tor­ship or whether it is an asset deal or a share deal. There­fo­re, we would only ever be able to present excerp­ts from the views of buyers or sellers.

Nehmen Sie das Thema Vertrags­werk auf jeden Fall nicht auf die leich­te Schul­ter und vor sogenann­ten Standard­ver­trä­gen warnen wir ausdrück­lich. Da hat so manch einer aus falscher Sparsam­keit für einen profes­sio­nel­len Unter­neh­mens­kauf­ver­trag schon richtig Geld und Werte seiner Firma unabsicht­lich verschenkt. Noch schlim­mer sind juris­ti­sche Prozes­se, die sich nach einem Verkauf ergeben können.

Please also read our tips on the Compa­ny purcha­se agree­ment.

Transac­tion model / transac­tion structure

Once you have decided on a parti­cu­lar transac­tion model, you need to plan the exact transac­tion struc­tu­re. There are diffe­rent ways you can sell your business. For examp­le, you can divide the sale into two phases: In a first phase, the compa­ny is parti­al­ly sold to a strate­gic buyer; MBI or MBO, and in a second phase you later sell the remai­ning shares.

Alter­na­tively, you can sell your business comple­te­ly. The transac­tion struc­tu­re depends on many diffe­rent factors, such as the type of business, the market value of the business and the prefe­ren­ces of the seller.

Asset Deal or Share Deal

There are two main types of compa­ny sales: Share Deal vs. Asset Deal. Both have their advan­ta­ges and disad­van­ta­ges that you should consider before choosing one. An asset deal is the right choice if you only want to sell certain parts of your business.

Maybe you only want to sell your real estate portfo­lio and keep the rest of the business. Or you may want to focus on a speci­fic business segment and sell the rest of your company.

A share deal is the right choice if you want to sell the entire compa­ny. The buyer acqui­res all the shares in the compa­ny and thus also assumes all the liabi­li­ties and obliga­ti­ons. In a share deal, there are usual­ly no dispu­tes about the valua­ti­on of the indivi­du­al assets, as the buyer acqui­res the entire company.


Signing & Closing

The signing & closing process begins with the signing of the sales contract by both parties. This contract records all relevant details of the sale, inclu­ding price, payment terms, guaran­tees and special condi­ti­ons. Once the contract is signed, a “closing” date is set.

On this day, the sale is finali­sed and the buyer recei­ves the ‘keys’ to the proper­ty. In most cases, the buyer trans­fers the agreed purcha­se price to the seller in advan­ce, who then signs the corre­spon­ding documents and passes them on to the buyer. After all documents have been signed and notari­sed, the sale is completed.

Post Merger Integration

The success of a compa­ny sale depends not only on the right prepa­ra­ti­on and timing, but also on the Post Merger Integra­ti­on. After all, after the sale is before the integra­ti­on: the two compa­nies or the MBI must now grow together and form a new entity. Successful post-merger integra­ti­on requi­res thorough preparation.

The post-merger integra­ti­on process is one of the most important aspects of acqui­ring a compa­ny. This process serves to unify the two compa­nies and ensure that the acqui­si­ti­on is successful. What has been the manage­ment cultu­re in the compa­ny so far? What syner­gies are to be achie­ved? What restruc­tu­ring is planned?

Legal aspects

There are some legal aspects you should consider when selling your business. First of all, you need to make sure that you have all the neces­sa­ry permits and licen­ces to sell your business. This can vary depen­ding on your indus­try and locati­on. So make sure you obtain all the neces­sa­ry documen­ta­ti­on before selling your business.


Notaries play a central role in the sale of a legal entity (e.g. GmbH). This is becau­se they are the ones who draw up and notari­se the sales contract as an alter­na­ti­ve to a lawyer. They also take on the task of monito­ring the purcha­se price and paying it out to the seller.


The role of an experi­en­ced M&A lawyer is crucial in a business sale. This profes­sio­nal can help you draft a valid contract and ensure that all neces­sa­ry steps are legal­ly secured.

Even if you think you can handle the process yours­elf, you should take the time to consult a lawyer who is famili­ar with the business sale process. You will proba­b­ly also have some legal questi­ons about selling your business.


The good news is: As a rule, most employees stay on board when a compa­ny is sold. This is becau­se when the compa­ny is owned by the new owner, the same employ­ment contracts and collec­ti­ve bargai­ning condi­ti­ons conti­nue to apply.

For you as an entre­pre­neur, this means: you do not have to worry about your workforce and can fully concen­tra­te on the negotia­ti­ons with the buyer.

The bad news is: In indivi­du­al cases, it can happen that indivi­du­al employees leave the compa­ny. This is the case, for examp­le, if the new owner decides to reloca­te the compa­ny. In such a case, the employees natural­ly have a certain right to protec­tion against dismissal.


If you sell your compa­ny to an exter­nal buyer (MBI or inves­tor), you should be aware that you are relin­quis­hing all influence with the sale of your life’s work. In the case of an MBO, it is more likely that the previous frame­work condi­ti­ons in the compa­ny itself will be retai­ned to some extent. This can lead to conflicts, especi­al­ly if the new owner wants to change the corpo­ra­te cultu­re. The company’s employees may also feel insecu­re and think that their jobs are in danger.

Second­ly, it can general­ly be very diffi­cult to find the right buyer. It is also possi­ble that the buyer will run the business badly after the purcha­se and get it into trouble.

Compa­ny sale costs and fee models

Das hängt verständ­li­cher­wei­se ganz vom Umfang der gewünsch­ten Beglei­tung und Unter­stüt­zung für eine M&A-Transaktion ab. Benöti­gen Sie einen Trans­ak­ti­ons­be­ra­ter, einen Rechts­an­walt und einen Steuerberater?

Oder nur eine Teilleis­tung? Ohne fachli­che Beglei­tung besteht ein sehr hohes Risiko von Fehlern und Wertver­lust oder auch das Problem von Rechts­strei­tig­kei­ten. Eine Fülle von mögli­chen Model­len finden Sie im ausführ­li­chen Artikel zum Thema Costs of a business succes­si­on.

Check­list for the sale of a company

  • Ermit­teln Sie Ihren Unter­neh­mens­wert und Angebotspreis
  • Finden Sie den richti­gen Käufer mit profes­sio­nel­len Unterlagen
  • Verhan­deln Sie den Preis und alle weite­ren Modalitäten
  • Sichern Sie eine verläss­li­che Käufer­prü­fung (DD) zu
  • Unter­schrei­ben Sie den Kaufvertrag
  • Überge­ben Sie Ihr Unternehmen

Unter­nehmens­kauf Checkliste

In wenigen Eckpunk­ten gebün­delt, lässt sich der Unter­nehmens­verkauf folgen­der­ma­ßen auf den Punkt bringen. Eine detail­lier­te Auflis­tung aller Check­punk­te haben wir im Artikel Compa­ny sale check­list put together for you.

Seriö­se M&A Berater erkennen

  1. Üben keinen Verkaufs­druck auf Sie aus.
  2. Haben weder zeitli­che Vertrags­bin­dun­gen noch laufen­de Kostenpauschalen.
  3. Können belast­ba­re Referen­zen oder Auszeich­nun­gen vorweisen.
  4. Sind Mitglied im Bund Deutscher Unter­neh­mens-
    berater (BDU).
  5. Unter­stüt­zen ganzheit­lich von der Vorbe­rei­tung bis nach der Transaktion.
  6. Agieren mit Ihren Stand­or­ten deutsch­land­weit
    oder inter­na­tio­nal.

Compa­ny sale consulting

Uncom­pli­ca­ted and as it suits you. Confi­den­tia­li­ty and discre­ti­on are parti­cu­lar­ly important to us as the KERN Group. You decide where and when we meet for a perso­nal meeting. Of course, this can also be done by video.

The content of the conver­sa­ti­on itself depends on your concerns. We are specia­lists in the sale of compa­nies and will be happy to answer your indivi­du­al questions.

Our M&A adviso­ry services in Germa­ny, Austria and Switzerland

With our many years of experi­ence and our exten­si­ve network in German-speaking count­ries, we are able to find the best buyers for your compa­ny and develop the optimal transac­tion struc­tu­re for you. In additi­on, we support you in the negotia­ti­on and imple­men­ta­ti­on of the sale. To distin­gu­ish serious from unserious advice, also take a look at our artic­le on the subject of M&A consul­ting.

Experi­en­ces, Figures Facts and Transactions

Das beson­de­re Projekt einer Unternehmens­nachfolge bedingt eine hohe Profes­sio­na­li­tät und viel Erfah­rung in der Komple­xi­tät eines Firmen­ver­kaufs. Wie in anderen Branchen auch zählt im M&A-Segment die Erfah­rung und Serio­si­tät zu den wichtigs­ten Merkma­len für einen optima­len Compa­ny sale.

Und das geht am besten über Referen­zen für einen Firmen­ver­kauf. Fragen Sie die M&A Beratung also konkret nach Referen­zen und Beispie­len aus bishe­ri­gen Trans­ak­tio­nen für einen Unter­nehmens­verkauf. Eine Fülle von über 150 Referen­zen finden Sie bei KERN z.B. unter Custo­mer testi­mo­ni­als. Weite­re Hinwei­se zur Berater­su­che erfah­ren Sie in unserem ausführ­li­chen Blog-Artikel zum Thema Compa­ny sale consul­ting.

Compa­ny sale FAQ

How does a compa­ny sale work?

Selling a business is a complex process that takes a lot of time. It begins with the search for a buyer and ends with the conclu­si­on of the sales contract. In the meanti­me, you need to prepa­re your business thorough­ly to ensure that the sale goes smoothly.

What should be conside­red when selling a company?

First of all, you should make sure that you gather all the relevant documents before you start the sales process. This includes the business plan, the finan­cial situa­ti­on of the business and all other important documents. Another important aspect is the valua­ti­on of your business. This is important so that you can set a reali­stic price for your business.

What happens to employees when the compa­ny is sold?

When a compa­ny is sold, employees may lose their jobs. In princi­ple, the follo­wing appli­es: A buyer legal­ly takes over all previous entit­le­ments of the employees.

Why are compa­nies sold?

Often it is for perso­nal reasons such as old age, illness or simply the desire to retire. But also from a finan­cial point of view, a compa­ny sale can not only make sense, but can also be the decisi­ve soluti­on for old-age securi­ty. Someti­mes a compa­ny sale can also remedy a criti­cal develo­p­ment in a compa­ny and insol­ven­cy can be prevented.