A court orders a business valuation in a matter involving an oppressed shareholder claim. The appraiser, carefully applying the standards of his profession, sends an engagement letter describing a fair market value determination. The appraisal will value the enterprise as a whole, then apply minority and marketability discounts. The selling shareholder is going to argue for discounts – they always do – but the report will have all the information necessary for a determination either way.
For the minority shareholder, this can be a trap. And it may be the wrong move to wait for the trial to fight out the discount issue and the battle over the definition of fair value should be fought as early in the case as possible. Here are a few reasons why.
The appraiser is going to prepare a report based on the standards of the valuation industry and that standard is fair market value – what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller. He is going to try to avoid the tough issue of whether any discounts should apply. The AICPA’s Statement on Standards for Valuation Services No. 1 relegates the definition of “fair value” to a single paragraph in an appendix as a matter determined by state law in judicial proceedings.