What is Split-off? | Complete Guide, Pros vs Cons

Generally, companies tend to have four options for structuring a divestiture. Split-off is one of them (the other three being split-ups, carve-outs, and spin-offs).

What distinguishes it from other divestiture methods is the allotment of shares. Besides, companies do not frequently opt for split-offs, like spin-offs.

As it follows from the appellation and the above discussion, a split-off is a method of divestiture that entails the division (split) of the stockholders from the parent corporation. As such, it can also be termed as a business restructuring method.

Key Takeaways

  1. Split-off refers to the separation of a segment of a company to form a new independent entity.
  2. Split-off aims to create two independent entities that can operate more effectively.
  3. A split-off is tax-free for the parent company and the new independent entity.

How does Split-off work?

When a company ventures for a split-off, it extends its extant shareholders an offer for owning shares in a subsidiary that it intends to divest.

However, the shareholders can only own shares in the resultant new company if they give up their stocks in the parent company. In this context, the shareholders may have two choices before them.

  1. Continue to own shares in the parent corporation.
  2. Give up a portion or whole of their parent company shares for shares in the resultant new company.

As a split-off doesn’t require compulsory participation by the shareholders, the new company’s shares are not dispensed on a pro-rata basis among the participating shareholders.

However, the parent corporation may offer its shareholders lucrative offers to encourage them to participate in the split-off. For example, it can offer them a premium or some incentives for trading their parent company shares with the divesting company’s stocks.

Before venturing for a split-off, companies sell the deprived/divesting subsidiary through a carve-out in an initial public offering (IPO). This step generates a specific market value for the deprived subsidiary, which helps fix the split-off exchange ratio.

It is crucial to note that most split-offs are classified as a Type D reorganization. Therefore, it is vital for companies venturing into this kind of split-offs to follow sections 355 and 368 and the Internal Revenue Code.

Adherence to these codes will enable companies to conduct tax-free transactions, which, in actuality, is a feature of the Type D split-off as only shares are traded.

Besides that, a Type D split-off also entails a transfer of the parent corporation’s assets and resources to the newly formed company.

Advantages of Split-off

The motivations behind a company opting for a split-off are many, as the method has several advantages. The following are the most significant among them.

  1. Debts and Risks: Divestitures like split-offs enable companies to eliminate the dues and risks concerning one of its subsidiaries.
  2. Enhancing core operations: Sometimes, too much diversification deviates a company’s focus from its core operations. The company may opt for a split-off to restore its focus on its core competencies.
  3. Lessons agency costs: A company may opt for a split-off to reduce the agency costs acquired from the disputes among its shareholders regarding one of its subsidiaries.
  4. Increases profitability: Split-offs allow business restructuring by rationalizing workflow, increasing focus on core competencies, permitting prudent capital allocation, and providing tax protection. All of these factors play a significant role in raising a company’s profit margins.
  5. Prevents stock dilution:  A split-off is just like repurchasing stocks without using cash. Instead, the shares of the division company are used for a buyback by the parent company. Consequently, there remain no apprehensions of share dilution.

Disadvantages of Split-off

Although, like all other divestiture methods, split-offs are opted for by companies in the hope of favorable returns, the procedure is not without its share of disadvantages.

  1. Complicated process: So far, the procedure concerned with split-offs tends to be far more intricate than other divestiture methods like spin-offs. 
  2. Costly process: Divestitures are always more expensive than acquisitions, as too many legal and institutional matters are involved. Split-off as a divestiture method is no deviation from this rule.
  3. Difficult to execute: The provision of exchanging shares acts as a turn-off for the shareholders who are less willing to give up their stocks in the parent company.
  4. Employees’ discomfort: As a business restructuring method, split-off generates several job-related uncertainties, which can cause much distress to the employees.
  5. Probability of shareholder lawsuits: If the shareholders participating in a split-off find that the premium (exchange ratio) offered by the parent company is not up to the mark, there is a high chance that they may file a lawsuit against the parent company. 
  1. http://www.etd.ceu.edu/2008/kovacs_veronika.pdf
  2. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=241226

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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25 thoughts on “What is Split-off? | Complete Guide, Pros vs Cons”

  1. The requirement for shareholders to give up their existing stocks in the parent company in exchange for shares in the new company could create discomfort and uncertainty among shareholders and employees alike.

    1. It’s possible that the provision for exchanging shares may lead to shareholder hesitance and legal issues, particularly if they find the premium offered unsatisfactory.

    2. Agreed, Fox. The process of relinquishing stocks may deter some shareholders from participating in the split-off.

  2. The taxation aspects of the split-off method are a key consideration for companies aiming for tax-free transactions. I find it intriguing that Type D reorganizations play a vital role in this divestiture method.

    1. While tax-free transactions are an advantage, navigating the intricacies of Type D reorganizations presents significant challenges to companies engaging in split-offs.

    2. Absolutely, Joshua77. The tax implications and reorganization requirements are critical aspects that companies cannot overlook.

  3. The split-off method certainly has its advantages in terms of increasing profitability and preventing stock dilution. However, the disadvantages such as it being a complicated and expensive process must be taken into consideration.

    1. I agree with you, Sally23. The advantages are substantial, but companies need to carefully weigh them against the complexities and costs involved.

  4. The split-off method of divestiture is a very effective way for companies to realign and restore their focus on their primary operations. Companies can eliminate debts and risks and reduce agency costs with optimal results.

    1. I’m not convinced that this is the best approach. It seems like shareholders may face issues with giving up their stocks and the overall process could be more complicated and costly than anticipated.

  5. Companies considering a split-off need to carefully evaluate the trade-offs between the advantages and disadvantages associated with this divestiture method before making a decision.

    1. Absolutely, Ward Archie. A thorough assessment of the implications is essential for informed decision-making when pursuing split-offs.

  6. The advantages of a split-off, such as debt elimination and focus restoration, are compelling. However, the challenges related to the process and shareholder participation must be addressed for successful implementation.

    1. Navigating the challenges associated with split-offs is crucial for companies to achieve the desired outcomes and mitigate potential obstacles effectively.

    2. Certainly, Dave Robinson. It’s imperative for companies to navigate the complexities and potential shareholder concerns effectively to realize the benefits of a split-off.

  7. The complexities and costs involved in the split-off process may pose significant challenges for companies, making it crucial for them to weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully.

    1. I concur, Djames. The complexities inherent in split-offs require companies to proceed with caution and strategic foresight to overcome potential hurdles.

    2. Indeed, Djames. The intricate nature of split-offs necessitates a meticulous evaluation of the associated complexities to mitigate potential obstacles.

  8. The split-off method’s focus on increasing profitability and rationalizing workflow demonstrates its potential to enhance a company’s operational efficiency and financial performance.

  9. This article provided a comprehensive understanding of the split-off divestiture method. It is crucial for companies to be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages when considering this approach.

    1. It’s interesting to note that although split-offs offer significant benefits, they are accompanied by certain complexities and concerns that companies need to address.

    2. Certainly, Palmer. It is essential for companies to assess the implications thoroughly and make informed decisions before proceeding with a split-off.

  10. The split-off method appears to offer a strategic approach to enhancing operational efficiency and profitability for companies, albeit with certain obstacles and complexities that need careful consideration.

    1. Indeed, Oreid. The benefits of a split-off can be substantial, but companies must address the intricacies and challenges inherent in this divestiture method to ensure successful implementation.

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