As comenta un pic despre legea referitoare la investitiile de tip Business Angels, aflata in discutie publica . Au mai fost ceva discutii aici si exista undeva si textul propusei legi, dar nu il gasesc acum repede.

As structura postul in trei parti: a) ce spune legea, b) cum cred eu ca ar fi trebuit sa fie si c) ceva comentarii

a) Asa cum este sugerata acum, legea spune asa:

  • Definim investitorul individual: persoana fizica, capata mai putin de 49% din actiunile companiei eligibile. Adica taxe platite, all the good stuff;
  • Investitorul primeste actiunile in schimbul unui imprumut catre firma;
  • Dividendele investitorului in primii trei ani sunt scutite de impozit (dar nu mai mult decat imprumutul);
  • Profitul realizat din vanzarea actiunilor, daca ele se vand mai tarziu de trei ani, este scutit de impozit (se defineste profitul ca diferenta dintre pretul de vanzare si valoarea imprumutului).

b) Cum cred eu ca ar fi trebuit sa fie:

  • O lege cadru care sa defineasca investitiile in startup-uri (si nu numai). Si o alta lege, diferita, (presupun ca parte a codului fiscal) care sa defineasca facilitatile fiscale;
  • Legea cadru sa defineasca investitiile in ansamblul lor: atat cele facut de persoane fizice, cat si cele facute de companii. Inclusiv deci legea holdingului. Nu ma refer la facilitati, ci doar la definitii;
  • Sa defineasca corect investitia ca fiind achizitia de actiuni, nu ca imprumut;
  • Sa intre in cateva detalii foarte importante legate de gestiunea actiunilor, inclusiv ESOP (Employee Share Option Plan), investitii cu premium, valoarea de piata corecta a actiunilor (Fair Market Value) si multe altele, care in momentul acesta sunt instrumente nedefinite in Romania;
  • Obiectivul legii cadru ar fi exclusiv de aliniere a legislatiei Romanesti la legislatia internationala si de clarificare a modului de lucru.

c) Comentarii:

Intr-un context in care experienta legata de investitii este foarte mica – Romania fiind la inceput de drum in aceasta directie – si in care antreprenorii se uita la lege cautand definitii si “best practices”, cred ca aceasta (ea, legea) ar trebui sa fie extrem de clara si concisa, definind aproape scolastic investitiile. Adica o investitie (equity) este emiterea de noi actiuni in favoarea investitorului care, in schimbul actiunilor, pune bani in companie. Orice altceva nu este o investitie. Da, sunt de acord ca exista foarte multe alternative de a simula o investitie (loans, convertible loans, achizitia de actiuni de la actionar existent si altele), dar acestea nu sunt si nu au de ce sa fie “main stream”. Ele sunt exceptii si ar trebui tratate ca atare.

Cred ca asa cum este acum aceasta propunere de lege defineste in mod gresit investitia ca fiind un imprumut si va genera o avalansa de perceptii gresite si abordari ratate.

Din nou, nu vorbesc in nici un fel despre facilitatile fiscale. Aceste facilitati sunt mult mai putin importante decat o legislatie clara, care sa nu lase loc la intrebari, fara “ifs and buts”. Nu facilitatile fiscale, ci legislatia clara, coerenta si stabila este cel mai bun “incentive” pentru un investitor.

Astfel, as indrazni sa concluzionez ca aceasta lege – asa cum este ea acum construita – face mai mult rau decat bine, incurcand borcanele si confuzand lumea. Avem oportunitatea ca intr-un domeniu in care nu exista legi sa facem legi [curate, inteligibile, fara contradictii] din prima. Si cred ca ce vedem nu face decat sa incurce. Parerea mea.

English version

The Business Angels law in Romania

I’d like to comment a bit about the law on Angel Investments which is now under public scrutiny. There has been some discussion here and the text of the legal proposal can be found somewhere, but I couldn’t find it quickly now.

I would structure this post in three parts: a) what the law says, b) how I think it should be and c) some comments

a) As it is now outlined, the law reads as follows:

  • The definition of the private investor: an individual who gets less than 49% of the shares of the eligible company. In other words, taxes paid, all the good stuff;
  • The investor gets the shares in exchange for a loan granted to the company;
  • The investor’s dividends are exempt from tax in the first three years (but only if their value doesn’t exceed that of the loan);
  • The profit obtained from the sale of the shares, if they are sold after the first three years, is exempt from tax (profit is defined as the difference between the sale price and the value of the loan).

b) How I think it should be:

  • A framework law that defines investments in startups (and not only). And another law, a different one, (I assume it should be part of the tax code) that defines (potential) fiscal incentives;
  • The framework law should define all types of investments: both those made by individuals, and those made by companies. So I am including here the law on holdings. And I am not talking here about the incentives, but only about the definitions;
  • It should correctly define an investment as the acquisition of shares, not as a loan;
  • It should go into some very important details related to the management of shares, including ESOP (Employee Share Option Plan), investments with a premium, the fair market value of the shares and many other such concepts that, for now, are undefined instruments in Romania;
  • The goal of the framework law should be that of aligning Romanian legislation to the international legislation and of clarifying the way we operate here.

c) Comments:

In a context in which there is very little experience with investments – Romania being a beginner in this direction – and in which entrepreneurs look to the law in search for definitions and best practices, I think it (the law) should be very clear and concise, defining investments almost scholastically. For example, an (equity) investment means issuing new shares in favor of the investor who, in exchange for those shares, invests money in the company. Anything else does not qualify as an investment. Yes, I agree there are many alternatives to simulate an investment (loans, convertible loans, purchasing shares from an existing shareholder and so on), but these are not and should not be considered “main stream”. These are exceptions and should be treated as such.

The way it is conceived now, I believe this legal proposal wrongly defines an investment as being a loan and, as such, it will generate an avalanche of misperceptions and failed approaches.

Again, I am not referring here to the fiscal incentives. These incentives are much less important than a clear legislation that leaves no room for questions, ifs and buts. It is not the fiscal facilities themselves, but a clear, coherent and stable legislation that offers the best incentive for an investor.

So I dare to conclude that this law – as it is now drafted – does more harm than good by mixing things up and confusing everyone. We have the opportunity, in a field where there are no laws, to make good ones [that are clear, understandable and without contradictions] from the very beginning. And I think that what we are seeing now will only confuse everybody. My 2 cents.

(English version by Teodora Popescu)

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