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The new law, which was adopted by the Swiss Parliament in June 2020 and came into force on January 1, 2023 , brings many changes to the legal framework of Swiss corporations. It aims to make the rules more flexible, modern, and transparent, while also addressing some of the challenges that have been raised over the years.

In this newsletter, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the new company law. 

The 15 most frequently asked questions about the new Swiss company law

1. What is the deadline to implement the new company law?

Companies have two years (until 1 January 2025) to bring their articles of association into compliance with the new law.

2. What is the new minimal nominal value of shares?

The nominal value of shares may be set below the current minimum of CHF 0.01 at any amount higher than zero.

3. What are the allowed currencies for the share capital of a LLC and Ltd?

Swiss Francs (CHF), British pound (GBP), Euro (EUR), US-Dollar (USD), Yen (JPY). Where the share capital is fixed in a foreign currency, the same currency must be used for commercial bookkeeping and the presentation of financial statements.

4. The approval of the functional currency for the conversion into a foreign currency need a qualified majority. The conversion will be performed based on the “current” rate. When can the functional currency be changed?

The functional currency can be changed either prospectively at the beginning of the next financial year or retrospectively at the beginning of the current financial year. The approval for the conversion into a foreign currency needs a qualified majority (at least two-thirds of the votes attached to the shares represented and a majority of the nominal values represented). The conversion will be performed based on the “current” rate.

5. What is the limited time allowed for the bandwidth (capital band)?

For a period not exceeding five years.

6. What changes does the new law introduce with regards to the call to creditors in relation with the distribution of assets during the liquidation of a company? (Art. 745 CO)

The distribution may take place no sooner than one year after the day on which the call to creditors was made. Previously three calls to creditors were required.

7. Is it possible for a company to implement a bandwidth (capital band) if it has an opting-out?

With the introduction of the so-called bandwidth (capital band), the Annual General Meeting (AGM) will in future be able to authorise the Board of Directors (BoD) to repeatedly increase and decrease the share capital within a certain range, although a reduction must at least be subject to a limited audit (no opting-out).

8. Can a bandwidth (capital band) be implemented by any legal entity?

No, it is only possible for a Ltd. The capital band is not applicable to a LLC.

9. What are the limits of the bandwidth (capital band)?

The fluctuation range of the bandwidth (capital band) is limited; it may not exceed the share capital entered in the commercial register by more than half (upper limit) and may not fall below the registered share capital by more than half (lower limit). However, the minimum share capital of CHF 100,000 must be maintained.

10. What are the affects of the bandwidth (capital band) in relation to the capital contribution reserves (CCR)?

If CCR are accumulated within the scope of a capital increase according to the capital band regulation, a net approach is taken from a tax point of view. As a result, all changes in the CCR are only determined for tax purposes at the end and after taking into account all contributions and repayments. Accordingly, the CCR formed under the capital band are not confirmed until the end of the capital band period. As a result, a tax-free distribution can also only be made after the end of the capital band.

11. When is the stamp tax due in connection with the bandwidth (capital band)?

The net approach is applied with regard to the issue stamp tax under capital band rules. The issue stamp tax is only due if the inflows made within the scope of the capital band exceed any repayments. Consequently, the stamp tax is only settled at the end and not already at the time of a capital increase, during the term.

12. What is the new grace period in case of over-indebtedness / provisional moratorium instead of bankruptcy moratorium?

90 days after the annual accounts have been drawn up, provided that there are serious grounds for believing that it will be possible to eliminate the over-indebtedness in good time and that this will not further jeopardise the performance of the claims.

13. What changes does the new law introduce in relation to interim dividends?

The distribution has to be resolved based on an interim financial statement, which generally needs to be audited. This condition is not applicable, if the company is not subject to an audit (so-called “opting-out”) or if all shareholders approve the distribution of the interim dividend. The dividend may also not jeopardise any claims of creditors.

14. What are the new regulation in connection with the shareholders’ meeting?

The shareholders’ meetings and may be held virtually and in several locations simultaneously.

15. What are the correct thresholds for the requirements of an ordinary audit?

Companies that exceed two of the following thresholds in two successive financial years:

a)   balance sheet total of CHF 20m

b)   sales revenue of CHF 40m

c)   250 full-time positions on annual average

Do you have further questions? Reach out to our experts Emilien Gigandet and Dominique Roggo.

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