What is the Demerger of a company?

What is the Demerger of a company?
Posted on 20-07-2023

What is the Demerger of a company?

The demerger of a company refers to the process of breaking up a larger company into smaller, independent entities, often resulting in the distribution of its assets, liabilities, and businesses among these newly formed companies. Demergers are also known as spin-offs or divestitures and are typically carried out to achieve various strategic and financial objectives. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the reasons behind demergers, the different types of demergers, the demerger process, its implications for stakeholders, and examples of notable demergers.

1. Reasons for Demerger:

a. Focus and Simplification: One of the primary reasons for demerger is to allow the parent company to focus on its core businesses and streamline operations. By separating non-core or underperforming businesses, the parent company can enhance its focus on its key strengths and allocate resources more efficiently.

b. Unlocking Value: Demergers can often unlock hidden value in the parent company's diverse businesses. Investors may value individual businesses differently than when they were part of a conglomerate. As separate entities, these businesses may attract a higher valuation, resulting in increased shareholder wealth.

c. Strategic Realignment: Companies may undertake demergers as part of their strategic realignment plans. This might involve reshaping the business portfolio to align with new market opportunities, technological advancements, or changing consumer preferences.

d. Enhanced Market Position: Demergers can lead to increased market visibility and a stronger position for the newly formed entities. Independent businesses can respond more effectively to market dynamics, leading to better customer focus and competitive advantage.

e. Regulatory Compliance: Some jurisdictions may impose restrictions on certain businesses or industries, prompting companies to demerge to comply with regulatory requirements.

f. Resolution of Internal Conflicts: In cases of disputes among major shareholders or management, demerger can be a way to resolve conflicts and allow each party to control separate businesses independently.

2. Types of Demergers:

a. Equity Demerger: In an equity demerger, the parent company transfers the shares of the demerged business to its shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholding. As a result, the shareholders of the parent company become direct shareholders of the demerged entity.

b. Business Transfer Demerger: In a business transfer demerger, the parent company transfers specific assets and liabilities of the demerged business to the new entity. This includes transferring contracts, licenses, employees, and any other relevant assets.

c. Slump Sale Demerger: In a slump sale demerger, the parent company sells the demerged business as a going concern to the new entity. The sale is usually conducted at a predetermined lump-sum price, and the new entity assumes all assets, liabilities, and employees of the demerged business.

3. The Demerger Process:

The process of demerger typically involves the following steps:

a. Strategic Planning: The company's board and management assess the rationale and potential benefits of demerging specific businesses. They consider factors such as market conditions, shareholder interests, and regulatory requirements.

b. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Companies need to comply with various legal and regulatory requirements related to the demerger. This includes obtaining approvals from shareholders, regulators, and other authorities.

c. Transfer of Assets and Liabilities: The parent company transfers the assets, liabilities, and operations of the demerged business to the newly formed entity. This process may include transferring ownership of physical assets, intellectual property, contracts, employees, and any other relevant resources.

d. Valuation and Accounting: The parent company and new entity need to determine the fair value of assets and liabilities being transferred. The accounting treatment of the demerger is also crucial to ensure accurate financial reporting.

e. Allocation of Shares: In equity demergers, the parent company allocates shares of the new entity to its existing shareholders. The allocation is typically based on the shareholders' existing shareholding in the parent company.

f. Listing and Trading: If the new entity is to be publicly traded, the demerged entity may apply for listing on stock exchanges, and the shares are made available for trading.

g. Communication and Stakeholder Management: Transparent communication with all stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and suppliers, is essential during the demerger process to minimize uncertainties and maintain confidence.

4. Implications of Demerger:

a. Impact on Shareholders: Shareholders of the parent company receive shares of the new entity, resulting in their direct ownership of the demerged business. The value of their investments may be affected by market reactions to the demerger.

b. Financial Reporting: The financial statements of the parent company and the demerged entity need to be restated after the demerger, reflecting the changes in asset and liability ownership.

c. Tax Implications: Demergers may have significant tax implications for the parent company, the new entity, and their respective shareholders. Tax planning is crucial to optimize the tax consequences of the demerger.

d. Employee Impacts: Employees of the demerged business may face uncertainties regarding their employment status and benefits during the transition. Proper human resource management is essential to address employee concerns and ensure a smooth transition.

e. Competitive Landscape: The demerged business and the parent company may become competitors in the same industry, potentially impacting market dynamics and competition.

5. Examples of Notable Demergers:

a. Hewlett-Packard (HP): In 2015, Hewlett-Packard (HP) split into two independent publicly traded companies - HP Inc., focused on personal computers and printers, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), focused on enterprise solutions and services.

b. eBay and PayPal: In 2015, eBay spun off its online payment service, PayPal, into a separate publicly traded company. PayPal became an independent entity, specializing in digital payments.

c. Kraft Foods and Mondelez International: In 2012, Kraft Foods demerged into two independent companies - Kraft Foods Group, which focused on North American grocery business, and Mondelez International, which focused on global snacks and confectionery.

d. Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie: In 2013, Abbott Laboratories separated its research-based pharmaceutical business into a new company called AbbVie, while Abbott retained its diversified healthcare businesses.


Demerger of a company is a strategic and financial process that involves breaking up a larger company into smaller, independent entities. It is typically undertaken to enhance focus, unlock value, realign strategies, and comply with regulatory requirements. There are different types of demergers, such as equity demergers and business transfer demergers, each with its specific implications and benefits. The demerger process requires careful planning, legal compliance, and stakeholder management to ensure a smooth transition. Throughout history, numerous high-profile companies have undertaken demergers to reshape their business portfolios and unlock hidden value. While demergers can create value for shareholders and lead to more focused and agile entities, they are not without challenges and potential risks. As companies evolve and respond to changing market dynamics, demergers will continue to be a relevant and essential strategic tool in corporate restructuring.

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