10 Key Issues for US Flip Transactions

January 31, 2023

When structuring a flip transaction – a deal in which shareholders in an overseas company exchange their shares for shares in a new US company – there are multiple initial issues to consider as outlined below. In a flip transaction, the new US company becomes the parent company, and the overseas company becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the parent.

1. Tax planning and tax clearances (if required) for current shareholders

To identify taxes triggered by the flip for current shareholders in an overseas company and determine future tax consequences (e.g., controlled foreign corporation rules):

  • Consider tax consequences for individual and corporate/institutional shareholders.
  • Explore steps to minimize tax impact (e.g., individuals holding shares through a corporate entity).
  • Find out whether other arrangements could alleviate costs if the flip is taxable for a shareholder.

2. Cap table review

Do smaller or friends and family shareholders wish to participate in the flip, or should they be bought out by larger shareholders?

3. Relocation of management and/or employees

Is relocation – permanent or secondment (temporary) – of overseas employees or founders to the US required? Consider:

  • Secondment or relocation terms, tax equalization, etc.
  • Immigration clearance or visas – think about employee eligibility and the timing of the visa process.

4. Incorporation in the United States

A flip typically is incorporated as a Delaware corporation. The timing depends on commercial needs, financial resources and other factors. Ask:

  • Is the goal to complete the flip as soon as possible or just prior to a US financing?

5. Share exchange/flip process

Determine the method of exchanging shares in the overseas company:

  • Share purchase or exchange agreement, especially if there is a small number of shareholders.
  • Using “drag-along” rights in articles and constitutional documents.
  • Scheme of arrangement or other court-sanctioned reorganization process (least desirable).

6. US securities compliance procedures

For the issue of shares in the new US company, identify appropriate US securities law exemptions (e.g. accredited investors).

7. Overseas company shareholders

Identify securities law compliance procedures (e.g., information memorandum, filings, notices, etc.) based on country of residence of shareholders for:

  • Sale/exchange of overseas company shares.
  • Issue of securities (shares or warrants to shareholders, options to employees, etc.) in the new US company.

8. Overseas company share options

How should you handle existing options or warrants: exercise, cancel or replace?

9. Business or asset transfer to US

If some or all of the overseas company’s business is relocated to the US, consider:

  • Third-party consents/novation of agreements and change-of-control issues in key contracts.
  • Identifying and scheduling all assets, contracts, and liabilities.
  • Do government grants restrict transfer of intellectual property to US?
  • Does the flip affect the overseas company’s tax losses? (And how to maintain and utilize going forward?)

10. Intercompany arrangements

Agree on the post-flip role of the new US company and the overseas company based on commercial, operational and tax-planning needs – and document with appropriate arm’s-length intercompany agreements.


This content is provided for general informational purposes only, and your access or use of the content does not create an attorney-client relationship between you or your organization and Cooley LLP, Cooley (UK) LLP, or any other affiliated practice or entity (collectively referred to as “Cooley”). By accessing this content, you agree that the information provided does not constitute legal or other professional advice. This content is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction and you should not act or refrain from acting based on this content. This content may be changed without notice. It is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up to date, and it may not reflect the most current legal developments. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Do not send any confidential information to Cooley, as we do not have any duty to keep any information you provide to us confidential. This content may be considered Attorney Advertising and is subject to our legal notices.