Company sale, and now? – How to inform employees and customers

From: Dennis Volter

Head of Mergers & Acquisitions

Selling a business is a significant step for any company. The process itself is very complex and costs a lot of time and work. In addition, the employees and possibly the customers have to be informed about the sale. What is the best time for this task and how do you go about it? In this article, we would like to give you some tips on how to inform employees and customers when you are planning to sell your company.


    Company sale: What happens to the employees?

    For employees, a company sale is accompanied by uncertainty and anxiety. Typical questions are, for example:

    • Will I lose my job now?
    • Will all employees be taken on?
    • Will my salary be cut?
    • Will my duties change?
    • What is in store for me?

    Important to know: In the event of an acquisition of significant parts of a business as part of an asset or share deal, the law requires that all employees associated with the business must be taken over. Put simply: If a business or part of a business is acquired, there is an obligation to take over employees.

    What rights do the company’s employees have?

    For the employees:

    • Terminations due to the transfer of an undertaking are invalid.
    • An amendment to the employment contract is not permitted if the employee is placed in a worse position as a result.
    • The hours worked to date shall be credited.
    • The setting of other conditions or the termination of the employment relationship is generally only possible after one year.
    • Information about the new situation must be provided in good time.

    Obligations of the previous and new employer

    Accordingly, the previous owner must ensure that his team is informed at the right time and in as much detail as possible. The new owner should pay attention to the following points:

    • If available, the works council must be informed about the sale and involved in the negotiations in good time.
    • The takeover must not be the reason for the dismissal of an employee.
    • Collective bargaining agreements and works agreements may only be changed to the disadvantage of employees after one year.

    The right communication: When and how to inform your employees?

    Information about the company acquisition should only be communicated to trusted, selected employees before the transaction is completed. If this information is unintentionally leaked to the outside world in advance, this can entail various risks, such as:

    • the loss of customers,
    • the poaching of employees by competitors,
    • frustration and many questions among employees,
    • rumors and speculation, and
    • dismissals due to insecurity.

    Involving individuals before the conclusion of the project, however, cannot be detrimental to the further project. A careful selection and approach should be taken here. In this context, discussions with a potential successor within the company should also be mentioned.

    If the sale of the company is official or has already taken place, the question of the right communication arises. It is always advisable to make a personal announcement, ideally as part of a company meeting. If possible, all employees should be informed in a large gathering. Confidence and a positive aura are particularly important here.

    It is very important to allow sufficient time for questions because there will be some. You should also communicate the existing opportunity to ask questions in the follow-up. It is also advisable to present the company succession as soon as possible.

    Tips to keep the customers informed

    In addition to employee communication, it is sometimes of major importance to inform your customers about the sale of the company. Customer loyalty should remain an important asset even after the change of ownership. The best thing to do here is to give your customers the secure feeling that nothing will change for them in the future. The following tips can help – always in consultation with the buyer:

    • Inform your customers personally.
    • Emphasize continuity regarding familiar services.
    • At best, highlight possible advantages that could result (better services and accessibility, broader product range, etc.).
    • Name a specific contact person for smooth communication.
    • Be available for any queries.


    If a company is about to be sold, it is important to inform the employees about the current situation and the consequences. Particularly if special measures are planned, such as changed areas of responsibility or training, it is important to inform the team at an early stage. Your customers should also receive a message – ideally in a professional manner via a personal letter. Start planning early and, if necessary, rely on professional support.

    Do you need support with the right communication?

    Are you in doubt about how and when to inform your employees and customers about the sale of your company? We would be happy to support you as M&A consultants. We know what is important when it comes to proper communication, and we will explain to you the rights and obligations of the employees and the new employers. Arrange your appointment with Conpair now.


    Dennis Volter

    Head of Mergers & Acquisitions