Mauritius: La Maîtrise Des Fusions-Acquisitions S'apprend Sur Le Tas Et Lors De Formations, Pas Sur Les Bancs Des Universités (French Interview)

Last Updated: 21 December 2016
Article by Shalinee Dreepaul Halkhoree

– Comment l'Afrique s'est-elle graduellement transformée en une destination de choix pour les sociétés désireuses de s'y implanter par le biais des fusions-acquisitions ?

-Comme cela a été souligné dans l'un des derniers bulletins d'informations de DLA Piper sur le M&A in Africa, les transactions liées aux fusions et acquisitions (Mergers & Acquisitions, M&A) en Afrique ont constamment augmenté, depuis près d'une décennie. Une multitude de facteurs ont contribué à la croissance économique notée récemment en Afrique. Ils sont, entres autres, une plus grande stabilité politique l'émergence d'une classe moyenne. L'augmentation des investissements directs par les institutions de financement, l'amélioration de la transparence et de la bonne gouvernance ainsi qu'une plus grande disponibilité des financements locaux et internationaux. Ces facteurs ont contribué à l'augmentation du nombre et de la valeur des investissements. On s'attend que le continent continue de croître dans son ensemble.

– Quels sont les éléments susceptibles d'influencer la décision d'une société qui se propose de réaliser une opération de fusion- acquisition sur le continent africain ou ailleurs ?

-Les principaux facteurs déterminants seraient la stabilité politique étant donné qu'aucun investisseur ne voudrait que son investissement soit nationalisé après un changement de gouvernement ou un coup d'État; la facilité de faire des affaires, les coûts y relatifs. Mais aussi, la transparence, les mesures incitatives accordées aux investisseurs confirme les périodes temporaires d'exonération fiscale, l'existence d'accords de non-double imposition ou encore les traités bilatéraux destinés à protéger les investissements, l'état de droit et l'indépendance du judiciaire.

– En quoi consiste l'étape de structuration ?

-La structuration est la première étape dans une transaction de fusion-acquisition. Cela consiste à prendre des décisions tel que l'achat des actifs des actions de la compagnie ciblée. Si celle-ci a des passifs importants ou fait face à des litiges sérieux, il serait souhaitable d'effectuer seulement l'acquisition de ses actifs. Les incidences sur le plan fiscal devront également être prises en compte lors de la structuration financière. Les décisions telles que la conclusion d'une vente bilatérale avec un seul acheteur ou l'Auction sale, une vente multilatérale avec plusieurs acheteurs potentiels devront également être prises pendant la phase de structuration.

– La conclusion des accords préliminaires est une étape décisive dans le cadre d'un projet fusion-acquisition. Pourquoi est-ce si important d'y avoir recours ?

-Les accords préliminaires jettent les bases de la transaction et ils sont conclus pour protéger les parties en négociation. Les accords préliminaires peuvent prendre plusieurs formes. Il y a, par exemple, l'accord de non-divulgation ou de confidentialité. En vertu de cet accord, l'acheteur potentiel s'engage à ne pas divulguer les informations confidentielles obtenues lors des négociations ou pendant la procédure d'audit préalable à l'acquisition. L'accord contiendra également une clause d'exclusivité qui prévoit que l'acheteur potentiel sera la seule partie avec qui le vendeur négociera. Quant à la clause de non-sollicitation également incluse dans l'accord, elle empêche l'acheteur potentiel d'employer les membres du personnel de la compagnie ciblée pendant une certaine période de temps, si la transaction n'est pas conclue. D'autres accords préliminaires pourraient inclure la lettre d'intention contenant les principaux termes de la transaction.

-Pourquoi le recours à un audit préalable communément appelé « due diligence » à un acte d'acquisition s'impose-t-il ?

-Le due diligence est une procédure qui permet à l'acheteur potentiel d'effectuer une évaluation complète de la compagnie et de déterminer son potentiel commercial. L'exercice de due diligence permettra à l'acheteur d'effectuer la transaction en toute connaissance de cause. Il peut également identifier des facteurs clés qui ne feront que mettre fin à l'opération proposée. Il existe différents types de due diligence. Ils peuvent prendre une forme légale, commerciale, financière et fiscale. Ils peuvent aussi bien être axés dans les domaines des assurances et de pensions.

Quelles sont les conditions préalables à la conclusion d'un accord de fusion-acquisition ?

Il s'agit, entre autres, de l'approbation nécessaire du conseil d'administration et des actionnaires. Il peut y avoir également des obligations postérieures à la signature qui seront nécessaires pour perfectionner l'opération. Un tel exemple serait l'inscription du formulaire de transfert des actions. Il peut également y avoir quelques étapes qui doivent être complétées après l'opération visant à perfectionner la transaction, comme informer la Financial Services Commission.

– Qu'est-ce que le programme de formation va vous apporter de plus au niveau de la maîtrise des procédures pour les fusions et les acquisitions ?

-L'approfondissement de la connaissance sur de tels sujets ne se fait pas sur les bancs des universités. La maîtrise des procédures pour conclure un projet de fusion et acquisition se perfectionne en apprenant sur le tas ou en assistant à des programmes de formation dédiés. Le programme de formation que j'ai suivi a été assuré par des formateurs de DLA Piper Londres et DLA Piper Afrique. Ils sont des experts dans le domaine de la fusion-acquisition. Ces professionnels ont une parfaite maîtrise du sujet. J'ai pu tirer profit de leur vaste expérience et j'ai été exposée à ce qui relève de ce type de transactions et de ce qui ne l'est pas.

– Quels sont les projets de fusions et acquisitions qui ont été réalisés à Maurice, soit par le cabinet Juristconsult soit par un autre opérateur ?

-Les récentes acquisitions sont celle de Fidelity Bank par la SBM Holdings et celle de l'International Financial Services Limited par la Sanne Group Plc. La fusion la plus récente et la plus importante est celle conclue entre GML Investments Ltée et Ireland Blyth Ltd (IBL) dont Juristconsult est l'un des principaux représentants légaux à Maurice.

Questions à ......Shalinee Dreepaul-Halkhoree, avocate et Senior Associate au cabinet Juristconsult

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