There are similarities and differences

There are certain similarities between the Dutch and the Antillean BV, in fact they are fundamentally the same type of entity. The main object of the Antillean legislator was, however, flexibility and maximum freedom of organization and presentation.

Accordingly, the Antillean Act contains few mandatory provisions, such as provisions relating to the interests of creditors and minority shareholders.

An Antillean BV may be established in a form that resembles what a foreign shareholder encounters in his own legal system: the BV can, for example, be organized like a Dutch BV or NV, a Delaware corporation, a BVI company or a German GmbH. The chameleonic possibilities of the BV contribute to its attractiveness. It should be noted, however, that a BV cannot issue bearer shares and that an NV can, in turn, only issue registered shares, which may subsequently, however, be converted into bearer shares.

The transfer of shares in a Dutch BV requires a notarial deed; the transfer of shares in an Antillean BV only a private deed. The articles of association of a Dutch BV must contain one of the transfer restrictions imposed by law, i.e. approval by a designated corporate body or the obligation to first offer the shares to co-shareholders. The articles of association of an Antillean BV may contain such or similar provisions.

There are other differences as well. For instance, in the Netherlands Antilles, concepts like registered, subscribed and contributed capital do not occur in the Act. No minimum capital is therefore required, unless such a requirement is included in the articles of association. Thus unlike in the Netherlands, in the Netherlands Antilles it is not a requirement to have a bank statement showing the payment on the shares to be issued upon incorporation.

In the Netherlands Antilles, there may be voting shares, non-voting shares and shares with restricted voting rights. Shares can have a par value which may differ per category of shares. The par value may also be expressed in one or more foreign currencies.

The main general rule is that the General Meeting of Shareholders of an Antillean BV will decide on distribution or withholding of profit and making other distributions from the equity, and that every shareholder has a right to an equal amount. However, the articles of association may provide otherwise.

Furthermore, the Antillean Act also stipulates that the articles of association of the BV can provide for distribution, completely or partially, controlled by a body specifically appointed for that purpose, for example the Supervisory Board. The Board of the BV can be organized as one-tier board or as two-tier board.

The above is just a brief summary of the similarities and differences. As far as the Antillean BV is concerned, freedom of organization with regard to the articles of association is the key concept, while the Dutch corporate code contains more mandatory provisions.

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

21 December, 2009

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