13 CFR § 121.103 - How does SBA determine affiliation?
(a)General Principles of Affiliation.
(1) Concerns and entities are affiliates of each other when one controls or has the power to control the other, or a third party or parties controls or has the power to control both. It does not matter whether control is exercised, so long as the power to control exists.
(2) SBA considers factors such as ownership, management, previous relationships with or ties to another concern, and contractual relationships, in determining whether affiliation exists.
(3) Control may be affirmative or negative. Negative control includes, but is not limited to, instances where a minority shareholder has the ability, under the concern's charter, by-laws, or shareholder's agreement, to prevent a quorum or otherwise block action by the board of directors or shareholders.
(4) Affiliation may be found where an individual, concern, or entity exercises control indirectly through a third party.
(5) In determining whether affiliation exists, SBA will consider the totality of the circumstances, and may find affiliation even though no single factor is sufficient to constitute affiliation.
(6) In determining the concern's size, SBA counts the receipts, employees, or other measure of size of the concern whose size is at issue and all of its domestic and foreign affiliates, regardless of whether the affiliates are organized for profit.
(7) For SBA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the bases for affiliation are set forth in § 121.702.
(b)Exceptions to affiliation coverage.
(1) Business concerns owned in whole or substantial part by investment companies licensed, or development companies qualifying, under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, as amended, are not considered affiliates of such investment companies or development companies.
(i) Business concerns owned and controlled by Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) organized pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601et seq.), Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs), Community Development Corporations (CDCs) authorized by 42 U.S.C. 9805, or wholly-owned entities of Indian Tribes, ANCs, NHOs, or CDCs are not considered affiliates of such entities.
(ii) Business concerns owned and controlled by Indian Tribes, ANCs, NHOs, CDCs, or wholly-owned entities of Indian Tribes, ANCs, NHOs, or CDCs, are not considered to be affiliated with other concerns owned by these entities because of their common ownership or common management. In addition, affiliation will not be found based upon the performance of common administrative services so long as adequate payment is provided for those services. Affiliation may be found for other reasons.
(A) Common administrative services which are subject to the exception to affiliation include, bookkeeping, payroll, recruiting, other human resource support, cleaning services, and other duties which are otherwise unrelated to contract performance or management and can be reasonably pooled or otherwise performed by a holding company, parent entity, or sister business concern without interfering with the control of the subject firm.
(B)Contract administration services include both services that could be considered “common administrative services” under the exception to affiliation and those that could not.
(1)Contract administration services that encompass actual and direct day-to-day oversight and control of the performance of a contract/project are not shared common administrative services, and would include tasks or functions such as negotiating directly with the government agency regarding proposal terms, contract terms, scope and modifications, project scheduling, hiring and firing of employees, and overall responsibility for the day-to-day and overall project and contract completion.
(2)Contract administration services that are administrative in nature may constitute administrative services that can be shared, and would fall within the exception to affiliation. These administrative services include tasks such as record retention not related to a specific contract (e.g., employee time and attendance records), maintenance of databases for awarded contracts, monitoring for regulatory compliance, template development, and assisting accounting with invoice preparation as needed.
(C) Business development may include both services that could be considered “common administrative services” under the exception to affiliation and those that could not. Efforts at the holding company or parent level to identify possible procurement opportunities for specific subsidiary companies may properly be considered “common administrative services” under the exception to affiliation. However, at some point the opportunity identified by the holding company's or parent entity's business development efforts becomes concrete enough to assign to a subsidiary and at that point the subsidiary must be involved in the business development efforts for such opportunity. At the proposal or bid preparation stage of business development, the appropriate subsidiary company for the opportunity has been identified and a representative of that company must be involved in preparing an appropriate offer. This does not mean to imply that one or more representatives of a holding company or parent entity cannot also be involved in preparing an offer. They may be involved in assisting with preparing the generic part of an offer, but the specific subsidiary that intends to ultimately perform the contract must control the technical and contract specific portions of preparing an offer. In addition, once award is made, employee assignments and the logistics for contract performance must be controlled by the specific subsidiary company and should not be performed at a holding company or parent entity level.
(3) Business concerns which are part of an SBA approved pool of concerns for a joint program of research and development or for defense production as authorized by the Small Business Act are not affiliates of one another because of the pool.
(4) Business concerns which lease employees from concerns primarily engaged in leasing employees to other businesses or which enter into a co-employer arrangement with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) are not affiliated with the leasing company or PEO solely on the basis of a leasing agreement.
(5) For financial, management or technical assistance under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, as amended, (an applicant is not affiliated with the investors listed in paragraphs (b)(5) (i) through (vi) of this section.
(i)Venture capital operating companies, as defined in the U.S. Department of Labor regulations found at 29 CFR 2510.3-101(d);
(ii) Employee benefit or pension plans established and maintained by the Federal government or any state, or their political subdivisions, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, for the benefit of employees;
(iii) Employee benefit or pension plans within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (29 U.S.C. 1001, et seq.);
(iv) Charitable trusts, foundations, endowments, or similar organizations exempt from Federal income taxation under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (26 U.S.C. 501(c));
(v) Investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (1940 Act) (15 U.S.C. 80a-1, et seq.); and
(vi) Investment companies, as defined under the 1940 Act, which are not registered under the 1940 Act because they are beneficially owned by less than 100 persons, if the company's sales literature or organizational documents indicate that its principal purpose is investment in securities rather than the operation of commercial enterprises.
(6) A firm that has an SBA-approved mentor-protégé agreement authorized under § 124.520 or § 125.9 of this chapter is not affiliated with its mentor firm solely because the protégé firm receives assistance from the mentor under the agreement. Similarly, a protégé firm is not affiliated with its mentor solely because the protégé firm receives assistance from the mentor under a federal mentor-protégé program where an exception to affiliation is specifically authorized by statute or by SBA under the procedures set forth in § 121.903. Affiliation may be found in either case for other reasons as set forth in this section.
(7) The member shareholders of a small agricultural cooperative, as defined in the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j), are not considered affiliated with the cooperative by virtue of their membership in the cooperative.
(8) These exceptions to affiliation and any others set forth in § 121.702 apply for purposes of SBA's SBIR and STTR programs.
(9) In the case of a solicitation for a bundled contract, a small business contractor may enter into a Small Business Teaming Arrangement with one or more small business subcontractors and submit an offer as a small business without regard to affiliation, so long as each team member is small for the size standard assigned to the contract or subcontract. The agency shall evaluate the offer in the same manner as other offers with due consideration of the capabilities of the subcontractors.
(c)Affiliation based on stock ownership.
(1) A person (including any individual, concern or other entity) that owns, or has the power to control, 50 percent or more of a concern's voting stock, or a block of voting stock which is large compared to other outstanding blocks of voting stock, controls or has the power to control the concern.
(2) If two or more persons (including any individual, concern or other entity) each owns, controls, or has the power to control less than 50 percent of a concern's voting stock, and such minority holdings are equal or approximately equal in size, and the aggregate of these minority holdings is large as compared with any other stock holding, SBA presumes that each such person controls or has the power to control the concern whose size is at issue. This presumption may be rebutted by a showing that such control or power to control does not in fact exist.
(3) If a concern's voting stock is widely held and no single block of stock is large as compared with all other stock holdings, the concern's Board of Directors and CEO or President will be deemed to have the power to control the concern in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
(d)Affiliation arising under stock options, convertible securities, and agreements to merge.
(1) In determining size, SBA considers stock options, convertible securities, and agreements to merge (including agreements in principle) to have a present effect on the power to control a concern. SBA treats such options, convertible securities, and agreements as though the rights granted have been exercised.
(2) Agreements to open or continue negotiations towards the possibility of a merger or a sale of stock at some later date are not considered “agreements in principle” and are thus not given present effect.
(3) Options, convertible securities, and agreements that are subject to conditions precedent which are incapable of fulfillment, speculative, conjectural, or unenforceable under state or Federal law, or where the probability of the transaction (or exercise of the rights) occurring is shown to be extremely remote, are not given present effect.
(4) An individual, concern or other entity that controls one or more other concerns cannot use options, convertible securities, or agreements to appear to terminate such control before actually doing so. SBA will not give present effect to individuals', concerns' or other entities' ability to divest all or part of their ownership interest in order to avoid a finding of affiliation.
(e)Affiliation based on common management. Affiliation arises where one or more officers, directors, managing members, or partners who control the board of directors and/or management of one concern also control the board of directors or management of one or more other concerns.
(f)Affiliation based on identity of interest. Affiliation may arise among two or more persons with an identity of interest. Individuals or firms that have identical or substantially identical business or economic interests (such as family members, individuals or firms with common investments, or firms that are economically dependent through contractual or other relationships) may be treated as one party with such interests aggregated. Where SBA determines that such interests should be aggregated, an individual or firm may rebut that determination with evidence showing that the interests deemed to be one are in fact separate.
(1) Firms owned or controlled by married couples, parties to a civil union, parents, children, and siblings are presumed to be affiliated with each other if they conduct business with each other, such as subcontracts or joint ventures or share or provide loans, resources, equipment, locations or employees with one another. This presumption may be overcome by showing a clear line of fracture between the concerns. Other types of familial relationships are not grounds for affiliation on family relationships.
(2) SBA may presume an identity of interest based upon economic dependence if the concern in question derived 70% or more of its receipts from another concern over the previous three fiscal years.
(i) This presumption may be rebutted by a showing that despite the contractual relations with another concern, the concern at issue is not solely dependent on that other concern, such as where the concern has been in business for a short amount of time and has only been able to secure a limited number of contracts.
(ii) A business concern owned and controlled by an Indian Tribe, ANC, NHO, CDC, or by a wholly-owned entity of an Indian Tribe, ANC, NHO, or CDC, is not considered to be affiliated with another concern owned by that entity based solely on the contractual relations between the two concerns.
(g)Affiliation based on the newly organized concern rule. Affiliation may arise where former officers, directors, principal stockholders, managing members, or key employees of one concern organize a new concern in the same or related industry or field of operation, and serve as the new concern's officers, directors, principal stockholders, managing members, or key employees, and the one concern is furnishing or will furnish the new concern with contracts, financial or technical assistance, indemnification on bid or performance bonds, and/or other facilities, whether for a fee or otherwise. A concern may rebut such an affiliation determination by demonstrating a clear line of fracture between the two concerns. A “key employee” is an employee who, because of his/her position in the concern, has a critical influence in or substantive control over the operations or management of the concern.
(h)Affiliation based on joint ventures. A joint venture is an association of individuals and/or concerns with interests in any degree or proportion consorting to engage in and carry out no more than three specific or limited-purpose business ventures for joint profit over a two year period, for which purpose they combine their efforts, property, money, skill, or knowledge, but not on a continuing or permanent basis for conducting business generally. This means that a specific joint venture entity generally may not be awarded more than three contracts over a two year period, starting from the date of the award of the first contract, without the partners to the joint venture being deemed affiliated for all purposes. Once a joint venture receives one contract, SBA will determine compliance with the three awards in two years rule for future awards as of the date of initial offer including price. As such, an individual joint venture may be awarded more than three contracts without SBA finding general affiliation between the joint venture partners where the joint venture had received two or fewer contracts as of the date it submitted one or more additional offers which thereafter result in one or more additional contract awards. The same two (or more) entities may create additional joint ventures, and each new joint venture entity may be awarded up to three contracts in accordance with this section. At some point, however, such a longstanding inter-relationship or contractual dependence between the same joint venture partners will lead to a finding of general affiliation between and among them. For purposes of this provision and in order to facilitate tracking of the number of contract awards made to a joint venture, a joint venture: Must be in writing and must do business under its own name; must be identified as a joint venture in the System for Award Management (SAM); may be in the form of a formal or informal partnership or exist as a separate limited liability company or other separate legal entity; and, if it exists as a formal separate legal entity, may not be populated with individuals intended to perform contracts awarded to the joint venture (i.e., the joint venture may have its own separate employees to perform administrative functions, but may not have its own separate employees to perform contracts awarded to the joint venture). SBA may also determine that the relationship between a prime contractor and its subcontractor is a joint venture, and that affiliation between the two exists, pursuant to paragraph (h)(5) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (h), contract refers to prime contracts, and any subcontract in which the joint venture is treated as a similarly situated entity as the term is defined in part 125 of this chapter.
(1) Parties to a joint venture are affiliates if any one of them seeks SBA financial assistance for use in connection with the joint venture.
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (h)(3) of this section, concerns submitting offers on a particular procurement or property sale as joint venturers are affiliated with each other with regard to the performance of that contract.
(3)Exception to affiliation for certain joint ventures.
(i) A joint venture of two or more business concerns may submit an offer as a small business for a Federal procurement, subcontract or sale so long as each concern is small under the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the contract.
(ii) Two firms approved by SBA to be a mentor and protégé under § 125.9 of this chapter may joint venture as a small business for any Federal government prime contract or subcontract, provided the protégé qualifies as small for the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the procurement, and the joint venture meets the requirements of §§ 124.513 (c) and (d), §§ 125.8(b) and (c), §§ 125.18(b)(2) and (3), §§ 126.616(c) and (d), or §§ 127.506(c) and (d) of this chapter, as appropriate.
(iii) Two firms approved by SBA to be a mentor and protégé under § 124.520 of these regulations may joint venture as a small business for any Federal government prime contract or subcontract, provided the protégé qualifies as small for the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the procurement and, for purposes of 8(a) sole source requirements, has not reached the dollar limit set forth in § 124.519 of these regulations. If the procurement is to be awarded through the 8(a) BD program, SBA must approve the joint venture pursuant to § 124.513. If the procurement is to be awarded other than through the 8(a) BD program (e.g., small business set aside, HUBZone set aside), SBA need not approve the joint venture prior to award, but if the size status of the joint venture is protested, the provisions of §§ 124.513(c) and (d) will apply. This means that the joint venture must meet the requirements of §§ 124.513(c) and (d) in order to receive the exception to affiliation authorized by this paragraph. In either case, after contract performance is complete, the 8(a) partner to the joint venture must submit a report to its servicing SBA district office explaining how the applicable performance of work requirements were met for the contract.
(4) A contractor and its ostensible subcontractor are treated as joint venturers, and therefore affiliates, for size determination purposes. An ostensible subcontractor is a subcontractor that is not a similarly situated entity, as that term is defined in § 125.1 of this chapter, and performs primary and vital requirements of a contract, or of an order, or is a subcontractor upon which the prime contractor is unusually reliant. All aspects of the relationship between the prime and subcontractor are considered, including, but not limited to, the terms of the proposal (such as contract management, technical responsibilities, and the percentage of subcontracted work), agreements between the prime and subcontractor (such as bonding assistance or the teaming agreement), and whether the subcontractor is the incumbent contractor and is ineligible to submit a proposal because it exceeds the applicable size standard for that solicitation.
(5) For size purposes, a concern must include in its receipts its proportionate share of joint venture receipts, and in its total number of employees its proportionate share of joint venture employees.
(i)Affiliation based on franchise and license agreements. The restraints imposed on a franchisee or licensee by its franchise or license agreement relating to standardized quality, advertising, accounting format and other similar provisions, generally will not be considered in determining whether the franchisor or licensor is affiliated with the franchisee or licensee provided the franchisee or licensee has the right to profit from its efforts and bears the risk of loss commensurate with ownership. Affiliation may arise, however, through other means, such as common ownership, common management or excessive restrictions upon the sale of the franchise interest.