Chwilio Deddfwriaeth

Companies Act 2006

Section 641: Circumstances in which a company may reduce its share capital

950.This section replaces section 135(1) and (2) of the 1985 Act. It sets out the circumstances and manner in which a company limited by shares may reduce its share capital. As recommended by the CLR (Final Report, paragraph 10.6), in future a private company limited by shares will be able to reduce its share capital using a new solvency statement procedure for capital reductions (see section 642).

951.A company may only reduce its share capital under section 135 of the 1985 Act if it is authorised to do so by its articles. In line with the recommendations of the CLR (Completing the Structure, paragraph 2.15), the requirement for prior authorisation in the articles has not been retained but, if it wishes, a company may restrict or prohibit a reduction of capital by making provision to this effect in its articles (see subsection (6)).

952.Subsection (1)(a) contains a signpost to a new provision, which will enable a private company limited by shares to reduce its share capital using the new solvency statement procedure (see above). In addition, private companies and public companies alike will continue to be able to use the current court approved procedure for capital reductions – which is retained in subsection (1)(b).

953.In the case of a private company limited by shares which is proposing to use the new solvency statement procedure to effect a reduction of capital, the company may only reduce its share capital under subsection (1)(a) if it will have at least one member remaining after the proposed reduction (see subsection (2)). That member need only hold one share in the company but that share must not be a redeemable share. The principle behind this requirement is that a private company limited by shares should not be capable of reducing its share capital to zero unless the reduction of capital is sanctioned by the court. This mirrors the existing equivalent provision in section 162(3) of the 1985 Act – which applies to a purchase of own shares.

954.Both the solvency statement procedure for capital reductions and the court-approved procedure require a special resolution of the company’s members. Under subsection (5) a special resolution to reduce a company’s share capital may not provide for the proposed reduction to take effect on a date later than the date on which the resolution to reduce capital takes effect. Under the solvency statement procedure a resolution to reduce capital will take effect when the documents referred to in section 644 have been registered by the registrar (see section 644(4)). This would operate to prevent a company passing a resolution on, say, 1st January stating that the reduction is to take effect on 1st October. Under the court approved procedure, the resolution will take effect on the registration of the court order and statement of capital or, in the context of a reduction forming part of a compromise or arrangement under Part 26, on delivery of those documents to the registrar (unless the court orders otherwise) (see section 649).

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