§ 124.106When do disadvantaged individuals control an applicant or Participant?
Control is not the same as ownership, although both may reside in the same person. SBA regards control as including both the strategic policy setting exercised by boards of directors and the day-to-day management and administration of business operations. An applicant or Participant's management and daily business operations must be conducted by one or more disadvantaged individuals, except for concerns owned by Indian tribes, ANCs, Native Hawaiian Organizations, or Community Development Corporations (CDCs). (See§§ 124.109, 124.110, and 124.111, respectively, for the requirements for concerns owned by Indian tribes or ANCs, for concerns owned by Native Hawaiian Organizations, and for CDC-owned concerns.) Disadvantaged individuals managing the concern must have managerial experience of the extent and complexity needed to run the concern. A disadvantaged individual need not have the technical expertise or possess a required license to be found to control an applicant or Participant if he or she can demonstrate that he or she has ultimate managerial and supervisory control over those who possess the required licenses or technical expertise. However, where a critical license is held by a non-disadvantaged individual having an equity interest in the applicant or Participant firm, the non-disadvantaged individual may be found to control the firm.
(1) An applicant or Participant must be managed on a full-time basis by one or more disadvantaged individuals who possess requisite management capabilities.
(2) A disadvantaged full-time manager must hold the highest officer position (usually President or Chief Executive Officer) in the applicant or Participant and be physically located in the United States.
(3) One or more disadvantaged individuals who manage the applicant or Participant must devote full-time to the business during the normal working hours of firms in the same or similar line of business. Work in a wholly-owned subsidiary of the applicant or participant may be considered to meet the requirement of full-time devotion. This applies only to a subsidiary owned by the 8(a) firm, and not to firms in which the disadvantaged individual has an ownership interest.
(4) Any disadvantaged manager who wishes to engage in outside employment must notify SBA of the nature and anticipated duration of the outside employment and obtain the prior written approval of SBA. SBA will deny a request for outside employment which could conflict with the management of the firm or could hinder it in achieving the objectives of its business development plan.
(5) Except as provided in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, a disadvantaged owner's unexercised right to cause a change in the control or management of the applicant concern does not in itself constitute disadvantaged control and management, regardless of how quickly or easily the right could be exercised.
(b) In the case of a partnership, one or more disadvantaged individuals must serve as general partners, with control over all partnership decisions. A partnership in which no disadvantaged individual is a general partner will be ineligible for participation.
(c) In the case of a limited liability company, one or more disadvantaged individuals must serve as management members, with control over all decisions of the limited liability company.
(d) One or more disadvantaged individuals must control the Board of Directors of a corporate applicant or Participant.
(1) SBA will deem disadvantaged individuals to control the Board of Directors where:
(i) A single disadvantaged individual owns 100% of all voting stock of an applicant or Participant concern;
(ii) A single disadvantaged individual owns at least 51% of all voting stock of an applicant or Participant concern, the individual is on the Board of Directors and no super majority voting requirements exist for shareholders to approve corporation actions. Where super majority voting requirements are provided for in the concern's articles of incorporation, its by-laws, or by state law, the disadvantaged individual must own at least the percent of the voting stock needed to overcome any such super majority voting requirements; or
(iii) More than one disadvantaged shareholder seeks to qualify the concern (i.e., no one individual owns 51%), each such individual is on the Board of Directors, together they own at least 51% of all voting stock of the concern, no super majority voting requirements exist, and the disadvantaged shareholders can demonstrate that they have made enforceable arrangements to permit one of them to vote the stock of all as a block without a shareholder meeting. Where the concern has super majority voting requirements, the disadvantaged shareholders must own at least that percentage of voting stock needed to overcome any such super majority ownership requirements.
(2) Where an applicant or Participant does not meet the requirements set forth in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the disadvantaged individual(s) upon whom eligibility is based must control the Board of Directors through actual numbers of voting directors or, where permitted by state law, through weighted voting (e.g., in a concern having a two-person Board of Directors where one individual on the Board is disadvantaged and one is not, the disadvantaged vote must be weighted—worth more than one vote—in order for the concern to be eligible for 8(a) participation). Where a concern seeks to comply with this paragraph:
(i) Provisions for the establishment of a quorum cannot permit non-disadvantaged Directors to control the Board of Directors, directly or indirectly;
(ii) Any Executive Committee of Directors must be controlled by disadvantaged directors unless the Executive Committee can only make recommendations to and cannot independently exercise the authority of the Board of Directors.
(3) An applicant must inform SBA of any super majority voting requirements provided for in its articles of incorporation, its by-laws, by state law, or otherwise. Similarly, after being admitted to the program, a Participant must inform SBA of changes regarding super majority voting requirements.
(4) Non-voting, advisory, or honorary Directors may be appointed without affecting disadvantaged individuals' control of the Board of Directors.
(5) Arrangements regarding the structure and voting rights of the Board of Directors must comply with applicable state law.
(e) Non-disadvantaged individuals may be involved in the management of an applicant or Participant, and may be stockholders, partners, limited liability members, officers, and/or directors of the applicant or Participant. However, no non-disadvantaged individual or immediate family member may:
(1) Exercise actual control or have the power to control the applicant or Participant;
(2) Be a former employer or a principal of a former employer of any disadvantaged owner of the applicant or Participant, unless it is determined by the AA/BD that the relationship between the former employer or principal and the disadvantaged individual or applicant concern does not give the former employer actual control or the potential to control the applicant or Participant and such relationship is in the best interests of the 8(a) BD firm; or
(3) Receive compensation from the applicant or Participant in any form as directors, officers or employees, including dividends, that exceeds the compensation to be received by the highest officer (usually CEO or President). The highest ranking officer may elect to take a lower salary than a non-disadvantaged individual only upon demonstrating that it helps the applicant or Participant. In the case of a Participant, the Participant must also obtain the prior written consent of the AA/BD or designee before changing the compensation paid to the highest ranking officer to be below that paid to a non-disadvantaged individual.
(f) Non-disadvantaged individuals who transfer majority stock ownership or control of the firm to an immediate family member within two years prior to the application and remain involved in the firm as a stockholder, officer, director, or key employee of the firm are presumed to control the firm. The presumption may be rebutted by showing that the transferee has independent management experience necessary to control the operation of the firm.
(g) Non-disadvantaged individuals or entities may be found to control or have the power to control in any of the following circumstances, which are illustrative only and not all inclusive:
(1) In circumstances where an applicant or Participant seeks to establish disadvantaged control of the Board of Directors through paragraph (d)(2) of this section, non-disadvantaged individuals control the Board of Directors of the applicant or Participant, either directly through majority voting membership, or indirectly, where the by-laws allow non-disadvantaged individuals effectively to prevent a quorum or block actions proposed by the disadvantaged individuals.
(2) A non-disadvantaged individual or entity, having an equity interest in the applicant or participant, provides critical financial or bonding support or a critical license to the applicant or Participant which directly or indirectly allows the non-disadvantaged individual significantly to influence business decisions of the Participant.
(3) A non-disadvantaged individual or entity controls the applicant or Participant or an individual disadvantaged owner through loan arrangements. Providing a loan guaranty on commercially reasonable terms does not, by itself, give a non-disadvantaged individual or entity the power to control a firm.
(4) Business relationships exist with non-disadvantaged individuals or entities which cause such dependence that the applicant or Participant cannot exercise independent business judgment without great economic risk.
(h) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section requiring a disadvantaged owner to control the daily business operations and long-term strategic planning of an 8(a) BD Participant, where a disadvantaged individual upon whom eligibility is based is a reserve component member in the United States military who has been called to active duty, the Participant may elect to designate one or more individuals to control the Participant on behalf of the disadvantaged individual during the active duty call-up period. If such an election is made, the Participant will continue to be treated as an eligible 8(a) Participant and no additional time will be added to its program term. Alternatively, the Participant may elect to suspend its 8(a) BD participation during the active duty call-up period pursuant to §§ 124.305(h)(1)(ii) and 124.305(h)(4).