Buying a Business in Germany

German Corporate Lawyers

Buying a Business in Germany

German Corporate Lawyers

With its robust economy, strategic location, and business-friendly environment, Germany presents various opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors looking to expand their horizons. One of the avenues for entering the German market or expanding an existing business presence is through acquiring an established company. However, navigating the complexities of buying a business in Germany requires careful planning, thorough due diligence, and a solid understanding of the legal landscape.

In this article, Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte delve into the essential aspects of buying a business in Germany to provide a comprehensive guide to help entrepreneurs make informed decisions. Whether you are a local entrepreneur or an international investor, understanding the intricacies involved in the acquisition process is crucial for a successful venture.

Please, do not hesitate to contact our corporate lawyers for specialised legal advice from German corporate law experts.

You are here: Home » German Corporate Lawyer » Buying a Business in Germany

Google Rating | Based on 419 reviews

Our Services

  • Due diligence

  • Liability avoidance strategies

  • Preparation and valuation of company sales

  • Purchase contract: drafting and analysis

  • Purchase price clauses | Purchase price adjustments

The Legal Structures of Buying a Business in Germany

When buying a business in Germany, several legal structures are commonly used. The choice of structure depends on various factors, including the nature of the business, tax considerations, liability concerns, and the desired level of control.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we advise clients closely on the different legal structures, including:

It’s important to note that each structure has specific legal and tax implications, and the advantages and disadvantages can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the transaction. Our experts in German corporate law are ready to advise our clients regarding the implications of each form. With our support, they can make an informed decision based on their specific goals, characteristics, and requirements.

Asset Purchase

Advantages: In an asset purchase, the buyer acquires specific assets and liabilities of the target business, allowing for selective acquisition. This structure provides flexibility in choosing which assets to acquire and can help avoid assuming unwanted liabilities. It will enable the buyer to start fresh with their selected assets and adapt the business to their needs.

Disadvantages: The buyer may need to negotiate individual contracts and agreements with customers, suppliers, and employees. Some deals may not be transferable without consent. Additionally, certain liabilities may remain with the seller, which could create complications if they are not adequately addressed in the purchase agreement.

Share Purchase

Advantages: A share purchase involves acquiring the target company’s shares, resulting in ownership and control of the entire business. This structure allows for a more straightforward transfer of assets, contracts, and licenses. It may also provide continuity in existing customer and supplier relationships, contracts, and permits.

Disadvantages: The buyer assumes all assets, liabilities, and potential legal risks associated with the target company. It is essential to conduct thorough due diligence to identify any hidden liabilities or legal issues. In some cases, minority shareholders’ consent or statutory approval may be required for the share transfer.


Advantages: A merger involves combining the buyer’s existing company with the target company, resulting in a single entity. This structure allows for pooling resources, talents, and customer bases. It can lead to synergies, cost savings, and increased market share.

Disadvantages: The merger process can be complex, requiring approval from regulatory authorities and the consent of shareholders. Integration challenges may arise, such as cultural differences and harmonizing systems and processes. It is crucial to carefully plan and manage the integration process to ensure a successful merger.

Joint Venture

Advantages: A joint venture involves forming a new entity with another party, combining resources and expertise for a specific business objective. This structure allows for risk-sharing, access to local knowledge and networks, and cost-sharing. It can be beneficial for entering a new market or pursuing a specific project.

Disadvantages: Joint ventures require careful negotiation of ownership, control, and decision-making rights. Differences in management style, strategic objectives, and cultural factors can create challenges. Detailed agreements and mechanisms for dispute resolution are necessary to address potential conflicts between joint venture partners.

Due Diligence

When purchasing a company, or seeking to buy a business, conducting legal, financial and operational due diligence is essential. The scope of the due diligence process will be based on the specific transaction and the purchasing company’s objectives. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers are available to review the financial records, contracts, permits and licenses, intellectual property, employment matters, litigation history, and any other relevant areas of the other company. Our team will identify any potential risk or problems with that company, and provide our clients with comprehensive advice based on thorough research

Remember, legal due diligence needs to be tailored to the specific circumstances of the transaction and the nature of the target business. Our team will guide you through the due diligence process and provide expert advice based on your unique situation.

Financial Due Diligence

Our lawyers regularly advise clients on financial due diligence, whereby we review the target company’s financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and tax returns. Such analysis allows us to assess the company’s financial health, profitability, and key financial ratios.

Working with our legal experts ensures your due diligence is organised, efficient and prepared for the purchasing process. Our lawyers will carefully follow the process to ensure that every material aspect is thoroughly documented and that your target company is accurately assessed.

Legal Due Diligence

Our team is prepared to examine the legal framework of the target company, including its corporate structure, articles of association, shareholders’ agreements, and minutes of meetings. This process also involves reviewing contracts with customers, suppliers, employees, and other stakeholders. Thorough legal due diligence will allow us to identify any ongoing or potential legal disputes, litigation, regulatory compliance issues, and contractual obligations.

IP Due Diligence

The value of intellectual property due diligence cannot be overstated. Our intellectual property law experts will assess the target company’s IP portfolio, including trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. This process is vital as regards verifying the ownership and validity of the IP assets, and it also enables us to identify any encumbrances or licensing agreements, and assess potential infringement risks or disputes.

Compliance Due Diligence

Compliance due diligence enables our lawyers to evaluate the target company’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations in Germany, including industry-specific regulations. As a full-service law firm, our team is able to assess the target company’s record regarding compliance with employment laws, environmental regulations, data protection laws, and any other relevant legal requirements.

Employment Due Diligence

Our certified experts in German employment law are available during this process to review employment contracts, employee benefits, and compliance with labour laws. Using their expertise, they can identify any pending or potential labor disputes, collective bargaining agreements, and obligations related to employee terminations or severance.

Regulatory Due Diligence

Our lawyers will identify and review permits, licenses, authorizations, or certifications required for the target company’s operations. During this process, we can assess their validity, compliance status, and any potential risks associated with regulatory non-compliance.

Óperational Due Diligence

Operational due diligence is the process of evaluating the operational aspects of the business, including its organisational structure, production processes, supply chain management, and key operational contracts. Through our team’s work, we can assess the quality and reliability of suppliers, customer relationships, and any dependencies or risks associated with the operations.

Buying a German Business from Abroad

Foreign investors need to be aware of specific regulations and restrictions related to buying a business in Germany. The German government has implemented various laws and regulations to protect national interests, ensure fair competition, and safeguard strategic sectors. Therefore, thorough due diligence is strongly advisable before purchasing a company.

Foreign Investment