迄今最简洁的境外上市VIE架构说明

迄今最简洁的境外上市VIE 结构说明(Explaining VIE structures)

This posting will explain the use of variable interest entities (VIEs) by U.S. listed Chinese companies. I have selected

E-Commerce Dangdang, Inc. (NYSE: DANG), which listed on the NYSE late in 2010, as an example of how the VIE structure is used. I have selected Dangdang because it follows the archetypal model for VIE structures, not because it has any higher or lower risks than other companies using VIEs. 这个帖子将揭示中国上市公司的VIE 架构的使用。本文以2010年晚些时候在纽交所上市的当当电子商务公司为例说明VIE 架构是如何使用的。之所以选择当当,是因为该公司的VIE 架构很好的贴合了该类架构的原 型,而不是因为它使用VIE 比别的公司有更高或更低的风险。

Offshore holding companies. Like most U.S. listed Chinese companies, the actual listed company of DangDang is a Cayman Islands corporation. After the IPO, founders Peggy Yu and Guoqing Li controlled 44.1% of the voting power of the company.

离岸控股公司。像大多数在美国上市的中国公司一样,实际上市主体是一个开曼群岛公司。IPO 以后,Peggy Yu(俞渝) 和李国庆两人控制该公司44.1%的表决权。

Chinese companies that list in the U.S. mostly use a foreign incorporated company as the listed company. The exceptions are large former state-owned enterprises like PetroChina or China Life, which list the Chinese incorporated parent

company. The foreign parent companies are usually

incorporated in the Cayman Islands because it is a favored location for offshore companies due to its tax-free status and established legal system that is built on English law. Some companies have used corporations formed in the British Virgin Islands or the U.S. U.S. holding companies are usually a poor choice, since this brings the corporate group into the U.S. tax net. Such arrangements are usually an accident of history – the founders having started the company in the U.S. or used a reverse merger with a U.S. shell company.

在美上市的中国公司大都使用境外公司作为上市主体。例外的是一些大的前国有企业,如中国石油或中国人寿,这些公司是以境内母公司为主体上市的。境外母公司经常设立在开曼群岛的原因是当地的免税待遇和以英国法为基础的确定的法律体系,这使得开曼群岛成为境外公司选址的不二选择。一些公司也使用在BVI 即英属维尔京群岛设立的公司作为上市主体,而鲜有人选择位于美国的美国控股公司作为上市主体是因为整个公司集团的收入都会被强制纳税。这样的架构的安排通常是历史的

偶然,除非公司创始人已经在美国开公司或者已经用一个美国壳公司反向并购其母公司。

The usual way to prepare for an IPO would be to contribute the shares of the Chinese operating company to the Cayman Islands company so that the Chinese company becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cayman Islands

company. The big problem with that was that foreign investment is not permitted in the internet sector where Dangdang operates. There are other problems related to foreign exchange and taxes that I will cover in another posting. In order to list in the U.S. (or anywhere for that

matter), it was necessary for the Cayman Islands corporation to be able to consolidate in its financial statements the Chinese operations of Dangdang that were held by the founders. The Cayman company also needed a way to get access to the profits of the Chinese operations for the benefit of the shareholders. Since they could not simply transfer the Chinese company to the Cayman Island holding company, they used the VIE rules to consolidate the Chinese operations by putting in place the archetypal VIE structure, as illustrated in this chart from their registration statement:

准备IPO 的通常的作法是将在中国境内运营的公司的股权转让给开曼群岛公司,由此中国境内公司变成开曼公司的全资子公司。但主要问题是中国禁止外国投资者投资当当从事的互联网产业。其他的问题包括税收、外汇和税务等。为了在美国或其他地点上市,就需要以开曼群岛为主体来合并创始人持有的当当中国的财务报表。为了股东的利益,开曼群岛公司也需要一个途径与中国公司的利润联系起来。由于他们就不能简单的将中国公司股权转让给开曼控股公司,于是他们就采用VIE 方式去合并中国公司,方式就是搭建一个原始的VIE 架构。下图是该公司登记文件中对VIE 架构的说明:

VIE entities. Beijing Dangdang Kewen E-Commerce Co. Ltd. (Dangdang Kewen) is a Chinese company that is owned by Dangdang’s founders, Peggy Yu Yu and Guoqing Li, who are husband and wife. Because both shareholders are Chinese citizens, Dangdang Kewen is permitted to hold the licenses that are essential to the operation of Dangdang. Dangdang Kewen has a 100% owned subsidiary in Wuxi.

VIE 实体。北京当当科文电子商务有限公司(当当科文)是一个中国公司,期股权被创始人Peggy Yu(俞渝) 和李国庆全部持有,两人是夫妻关系。因为两人都是中国居民,当当科文获准持有当当运营所必须的一系列牌

照。当当科文有个位于无锡的全资子公司。

WFOE entities. The Cayman Islands corporation established a Chinese subsidiary, Beijing Dangdang Information Technology Co. Ltd. (Dangdang Information). Because this entity is 100% owned by a foreign corporation, it is known in China as a wholly foreign owned enterprise (WFOE). Dangdang Information is not permitted to hold the necessary licenses to operate the business, and is not permitted to sell audio and video products in China. It does, however, conduct a significant portion of Dangdang’s business in China, including , for example, handling product procurement and fulfillment operations and operating

warehouses. Ideally, Dangdang Kewen would also be a WFOE, but this is not permitted in the internet sector. Dangdang Information has a 99% owned subsidiary in Wuxi. WFOE 实体:开曼群岛公司在中国成立了一个子公司,即北京当当信息技术有限公司(当当信息)。因为这个实体是100%的外资公司,在中国也称为外商独资企业(WFOE )。当当信息无法取得所需牌照去经营业务的,包括在中国销售音频或视频产品也是被禁止的。然而,该公司却运营着占当当相当大比例的业务,包括像采购、包装和仓储活动等。理想的架构中,当当科文也是一个WFOE ,但互联网业务部门是禁止WFOE 经营的。当当信息在无锡有一家持股99%的子公司。

Agreements . The concept that underpins a VIE structure is that control is obtained through legal agreements rather than through share ownership. Taken together, the agreements are intended to provide Dangdang Information with substantially all of the economic benefits from Dangdang Kewen and the obligation to absorb all of its losses. Dangdang uses five agreements to achieve this. These agreements are typical of most VIE structures: 协议。VIE 架构的基础理论是通过合法的协议而不是股权来获得控制权。这些协议目的是将当当科文几乎所有关键的经济损益全部由当当信息

享有和承担。当当通过5个协议实现这个目的:

Loan agreement. The founders borrowed funds from Dangdang Information in order to capitalize Dangdang Kewen. By using Dangdang Information instead of the Cayman Island parent to make the loan, the agreement is between two Chinese companies, avoiding the need to deal with the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

贷款协议。创始人为了将当当科文资本化,从当当信息借款。通过使用当当信息取代开曼母公司去贷款,协议双方是两个中国公司,因此免于中国外汇管理局的协商。

Equity pledge agreement. The founders executed an equity pledge agreement with Dangdang Information which pledges their shares in Dangdang Kewen as collateral under the loan agreement and the other agreements.

股权质押协议。创始人签署一个与当当信息的股权质押协议,将他们在当当科文的股权质押给当当信息作为借款协议或其他协议的附件。 Call option agreement. The founders agree to sell Dangdang Kewen to Dangdang

Information at any time for the original capital contribution. The payment price can be offset against the loan. From a practical viewpoint, the option cannot be exercised unless at some point in the future China allows foreign investment in companies like Dangdang Kewen. 回购权协议。创始人同意在任何时点,愿以原始资本金为对价将当当科文的股权转让给当当信息。该对价可以与贷款相抵消。从实际操作角度,除非未来某个时点中国允许外商投资当当科文,否则这个回购权将不能行使。

Technical support agreement. Dangdang Kewen agrees to use Dangdang Information as its exclusive technical service provider including platform and technical support,

maintenance and other services. It is through this agreement that Dangdang extracts the profits of Dangdang Kewen. The transfer price that determines the amount of the charge for technical services creates tax risk, which I will discuss further in a later post.

技术支持协议。当当科文同意将当当信息作为其技术服务的独家供应商,包括平台和技术支持,维护和其他服务。通过这个协议,当当信息榨取当当科文的利润。决定技术服务费多与少的利润转移问题可能存在税收风险。

Power of attorney. The founders give a power of attorney to Dangdang Information that gives it all the normal shareholder rights, including voting, attending shareholder meetings and fulfilling the call option agreement.

律师的授权。创始人授于当当信息的律师以普通股股东权利,包括表决权、股东会参会权和履行回购权协议等。

Operations . The registration statement of Dangdang does not provide details on how it will operate, but there are some clues. The objective in any VIE structure will be to minimize the profits in the VIE. Residual profits in the VIE cause problems because the ultimate transfer of these profits to the public shareholders is difficult and expensive. While VIE agreements typically require the VIE shareholders to turn any dividends over to the public company, any distributions to the VIE shareholders would be subject to individual income tax in China, layered on top of corporate taxes already paid.

运营。当当的登记资料无法提供它的运营细节,但有一些线索。客观情况是在任何的VIE 架构都是尽可能的最小化VIE 的利润。VIE 剩余利润会导致出现问题,因为最终将利润转移给公开市场的股东的成本高、困难大。当VIE 协议需要VIE 股东向上市公司索取分红的时候,任何对VIE 股

东的分红都将取决于中国的个人所得税,该税种先于企业所得税而征收。

Companies with VIE operations in China typically try to conduct as much of the business as they can justify in the WFOE. In Dangdang’s case, it appears that they intend to conduct procurement, fulfillment and warehousing activities in the WFOE (except for audio and video products that the WFOE is prohibited by law from handling). On top of that, the WFOE will charge the VIE for a technical service charge to compensate for developing and maintaining the internet

trading platform. The ideal situation will zero out the profit of the VIE, resulting in all of the profits residing in the WFOE. 在中国以VIE 模式进行运营的公司都尽可能的做多他们的业务,以证明WFOE 设立的正当性。在当当案例中,他们以WFOE 为主体开展采购、包装和仓储活动(除了法律禁止WFOE 从事的音视频产品业务)。在此基础上,WFOE 将向VIE 收取技术服务费以补偿发展和维护互联网贸易平台。理想的状态是让WFOE 获得VIE 的全部利润。

This posting has outlined the basic structure of VIEs using a typical example. There are some variations on this structure that I will explain in future postings. In these postings I intend to present some of my research on how VIEs are actually

being used in China, and outline some of the more significant risks.

本帖子只是用一个典型案例勾画了VIE 的基本框架。VIE 架构还有很多变化。


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