ISTANBUL HUKUK MECMUASI, vol.76, no.1, pp.257-275, 2018 (ESCI)
Pursuant to Turkish Commercial Code ("TCC") Article 380 paragraph 1, "[L]egal transactions concluded between the company and another person for acquisition of its shares and the subject of which is granting of advance, loan or security, shall be null and void." According to this provision, a public company cannot provide financial assistance to a third party with a view to acquiring its shares. This article examines a target company's dividend payout or commitment to its buyer (who would be a shareholder following an acquisition of the target company's shares) that is financed by a bank loan or from its retained earnings (i.e., without using any external source). We ask whether use of such funds in acquisition finance constitute "financial assistance" in the meaning of TCC 380/1. According to TCC, the prohibition of financial assistance applies only if three conditions exist cumulatively: (1) There must be an acquisition of shares; (2) there must be a financial assistance transaction, and (3) financial assistance must be made for the acquisition of shares. Therefore, the aforementioned transactional mechanism must be filtered through these three conditions. In our view, dividend payouts or commitments to the buyer following her share acquisition does not violate the prohibition of financial assistance, regardless of whether such amount is funded by a bank loan or the company's retained earnings. Using profits distributed by the target company in order to finance the acquisiton of the target company's shares makes no differrence according to our analysis. It is also possible that a commitment may be given for the target company's dividend payout in certain periods and for certain amounts in order to ensure repayment of the credit provided for the acquisition. The obligor of the said commitment may be the buyer or the target company (as a legal entity). If the target company is the obligor, the consequences for violating the commitment will vary according to the modality of the undertaking. Nonetheless, we believe that the target company's dividend payout must be made in compliance with the rules and procedures laid down by the TCC and by the company's articles of association. Otherwise, in addition to sanctions with respect to distribution of profit (TCC 512), the prohibition of financial assistance may step in. Hence, both the general assembly's resolution towards dividend payout and the payment of dividend (act of disposal) may be considered null and void regardless of whether the buyer's receipt of the dividend was wrongful and in bad faith.