SPA Negotiation: How to Use Sales and Purchase Agreements in Business

19 June 2024
When delving into the intricacies of Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPAs), it's clear that these legal contracts play a pivotal role; defining the relationships between buyers and sellers. Exploring the nuances of SPAs in various transactions can be tricky.
Two women discussing a deal over a desk
SPA negotiations are a critical phase in the formation of these agreements.

They involve intricate discussions between buyers, sellers, and often, third-party stakeholders. In a private equity or M&A transaction, negotiations revolve around pivotal issues. Such as deciding whether to acquire shares or assets. This decision shapes later discussions on handling target company debts, if any.

And a well-drafted SPA can be a powerful tool for mutually beneficial trading relationships.

Understanding SPA Negotiations

Delving into the complexities of SPA negotiations is often best understood with examples.

Imagine a scenario where a technology company is acquiring another to expand its portfolio. SPA negotiations would delve into whether the acquisition involves buying the target company's shares or its technological assets.

In transactions involving real estate, the negotiation process tackles issues of:

  • Title
  • Boundaries
  • Covenants
  • Easements
  • Mortgages
  • Overall property condition

For deals with chattels or machinery, meticulous specification and resolution of issues like liens and operational integration become focal points.

Or how about you consider a manufacturing company acquiring another with specialised machinery? SPA negotiations would involve detailing the machinery's specifications, addressing operational challenges, and ensuring a seamless integration process.

But what about the price?

Determining the price is a core consideration. With options ranging from a fixed price, possibly with an earn-out mechanism, to flexible considerations based on enterprise and equity values. Negotiations also delve into establishing performance benchmarks, payment timelines, and working capital treatment within the SPA.

Throughout this negotiation process, the SPA sets the stage for the entire transaction, encompassing elements like the timetable, conditions precedent fulfilment, data room structure, and the point at which the deal becomes irrevocable.

In another scenario where a pharmaceutical company acquires a research and development firm, SPA negotiations focus on establishing performance benchmarks for product development milestones, determining payment schedules, and addressing working capital considerations.

Crucial Components in SPA Drafting

SPA negotiations culminate in the formal drafting of key components within the agreement. The document outlines representations, warranties, and indemnities provided by both the seller and buyer. Specifics such as when these provisions crystallise, the extent of their validity 'to the best of knowledge,' and their duration and value are specifically addressed.

That's not all.

Agreed dispute resolution mechanisms, including the chosen jurisdiction, find their place in the SPA and serve as the foundation for resolving conflicts if either party fails to meet its obligations.

Legal Implications and Economic Impact

SPAs carry substantial legal and economic implications. Court cases often stem from alleged failures in disclosure, breaches of warranties, or disputes over contractual obligations. The drafting of SPA terms, including the definition of parties and rights such as assignment, is pivotal in legal proceedings.

How does this relate to the real world?

A case like Wood v. Capita Insurance Services Ltd [2017] UKSC 24 exemplifies the significance of precise SPA drafting. In this case, the interpretation of an indemnity clause became central to resolving disputes related to the share capital of an insurance brokerage company.

Economically, well-drafted SPAs can leverage differences in the cost of capital between buyers and sellers. Negotiations that consider factors like working capital, payment terms, and treatment of intellectual property can result in agreements that benefit both parties.

What Else Is There to Learn About Sale and Purchase Agreements?

Sale and Purchase Agreements serve as the linchpin in significant transactions, shaping the legal framework that binds buyers and sellers. SPA negotiations are intricate processes that demand attention to detail and a thorough understanding of diverse business scenarios. As you venture into the world of legal document drafting, consider the importance of expert guidance and continuous learning to ensure the success of your transactions.

To delve deeper into the art of drafting effective SPAs and mastering the intricacies of negotiation, consider enrolling in Redcliffe Training's course on Sale and Purchase Agreements.

This course provides comprehensive insights into SPA negotiations and equips professionals with the skills needed to navigate the complexities of legal document drafting.


How do you negotiate a share purchase agreement?

Negotiating a share purchase agreement requires grasping key terms, assessing the company's value, and fostering effective communication. Initiate the process by researching market conditions and establishing a fair price. Pinpoint critical deal elements like warranties, indemnities, and conditions precedent. Prioritise open communication, concentrate on mutual advantages, and be ready to negotiate. Consult legal experts to ensure the agreement aligns with your interests. Continually review and clarify terms to achieve consensus. Success in negotiations hinges on meticulous preparation, adaptability, and a collaborative mindset.

Who usually drafts the spa?

Legal professionals, often representing both the buyer and seller, typically draft the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA). These lawyers specialise in mergers and acquisitions, collaborating to create a detailed document outlining the terms, conditions, and specifics of the share transaction. The drafting process aims to address the interests of both parties and ensure legal compliance, ultimately leading to a clear and binding agreement.
Eager to learn more about SPA negotiation? Click below to find out more about Redcliffe Training’s Sale & Purchase Agreements course:

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