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Bank Creates Holding Company What Part of 1.409A-3(i)(5) excludes it as Change in Control Event


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Bank executives have employment agreements that allow 2 times pay as severance for voluntary separation from service within one year after a Change in Control defined by reference to 409A definition of Change in Control Event.

Bank wants to incorporate a Holding Company and do a statutory share exchange where all of the Bank shareholders exchange their Bank common stock shares for Holding Company shares, leaving Holding Company as owner of all shares of Bank common stock, and Holding Company will then have same shareholders that Bank had before the transaction.

No Bank shareholder is related by attribution rules of 318(a) to any other Bank shareholder. No Bank shareholder owns more than 30% of the outstanding shares of Bank.

Bank has asked if this is a Change in Control Event under 409A, for purposes of the employment agreements of the Bank executives. After this transaction, if one of the Bank Executives leaves voluntarily, would he or she be entitled to the severance pay under his or her employment agreement?

I know this shouldn't be a 409A Change in Control Event, as nothing has "really" changed, but I'm having trouble pinning down why in the regs under 1.409A-3(i)(5)(v), (vi) and (vii). Even if the shareholders of Bank are treated as acting as a group, (because they are involved in an acquisition of shares involving the corporation they all own) the Holding Company is a separate "person" and as an entity it does acquire more than 50% of the voting stock of the Bank in the transaction.

After the transaction, the 318(a) attribution rules don't help with respect to the original shareholders, with respect to Bank stock or Holding Company stock, as none of them own more than 50% of the Bank stock or the Holding Company Stock before or after the transaction, and the attribution rules of 318(a) measure stock ownership of each shareholder even if they are "persons acting as a group" for other purposes.

Also, since the Bank stock will remain outstanding after the transaction, the exclusion from the definition of Change in Control of 'transfers to a related party'  of 1.409A-3(i)(5)(vii) respecting Change in Ownership of a Substantial Portion of Assets does not apply the way it might in a merger where the stock of the target does not remain outstanding after the transaction. 

Can anyone point to the regulation under 1.409A-3(i)5(v), (vi) and/or (viii) that excludes this transaction from the definition of Change in Control Event under 409A?

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