Could your organisation benefit from a simplified corporate structure?

Sep 30, 2020

Taking the time to carry out a corporate simplification project during COVID-19 could help sustain your business while safeguarding employees’ motivation and focus, writes Claire Lord.

The effects of COVID-19 are severely impacting the global economy. To ensure long-term protection and sustainability, organisations are likely considering ways to reduce costs and improve business efficiencies. Simplifying your corporate structure by removing dormant or unnecessary companies is one way to achieve both objectives.

It is not uncommon for organisations to have complicated corporate structures. While many companies within these structures serve a particular purpose that brings value to the business, other companies may be inactive and costing the organisation money to maintain. A lack of time and resources often results in organisations putting off any review of the efficacy of their corporate structures.

Perhaps now, a time when employee capacity could be higher and long-term sustainability is a crucial focus, is time for your organisation to examine whether your current structure meets the changing needs of your business? The sooner the steps in a corporate simplification project are taken, the sooner your organisation can enjoy the many benefits.

Cost savings

The cost of maintaining a dormant or inactive company is usually understated. The actual cost can exceed €8,000 per year when compliance and audit costs are taken into account. This does not include the hidden costs of administration and employees’ and management’s time spent coordinating this compliance.

Employee productivity

Many employees are worried about job security as a result of COVID-19. A project demonstrating that your business is focused on long-term sustainability may help improve employee motivation and focus, consequently enhancing productivity and alleviating fears of job security. Workloads may also be lighter due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, and utilising employee time to assist with a simplification project can ensure that their time is spent productively to help sustain the business.

Business efficiency

Management, legal and compliance teams must focus their time, now more than ever, on the core companies required to sustain and grow a business. Eliminating unnecessary companies allows these teams the time to do that. A less complicated structure can also simplify the repatriation of cash from trading subsidiaries and other intra-group financing arrangements.

Mitigate risk

The existence of a company can expose a business to risk, including error, fraud, or a failure to meet regulatory or compliance requirements. These risks arguably increase with dormant and inactive companies, given the likely reduction in monitoring as management focuses on the core companies required to run the business. There is also the risk that, over time, corporate memory will disappear, making it more difficult to assess whether a company needs to be retained.

Governance standards and transparency

With ever-changing legal and corporate governance requirements for companies, including new anti-bribery and data protection laws, ensuring that companies meet the required standards is a constant challenge. It is easier to maintain these standards with a less complicated structure. Improved transparency through a simplified structure is likely to be welcomed by investors, finance providers, and other stakeholders.

Tax benefits

Complicated structures can sometimes lead to tax inefficiencies, such as tax leakage or additional tax compliance burdens when repatriating cash through the business. Simplifying the complexity of a structure may resolve these inefficiencies and allow for improved tax planning for the business.

Conclusion

At a time when organisations must reduce costs and increase business efficiencies to ensure long-term sustainability, considering a corporate simplification project may be a simple step that delivers meaningful results.

Claire Lord is a Corporate Partner and Head of Governance and Compliance at Mason Hayes & Curran.