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Company Name Change – A Complete Guide

Published by UK Property Accountants
Published Date: May 9, 2024

Companies opt to change their names for many reasons. Often, this decision forms part of a larger strategy aimed at reshaping their brand perception or adapting to shifts in their business direction. Instances of mergers and acquisitions frequently trigger name alterations, as newly combined entities strive to forge a cohesive identity. Legal factors, such as trademark disputes, may also compel a name change.

Additionally, companies may undergo rebranding initiatives to penetrate new markets, address negative associations, or better connect with diverse cultural contexts. In certain cases, a name change signifies a strategic realignment or the necessity to modernise an obsolete or perplexing brand identity. Regardless of the motive, renaming a company is a consequential choice that necessitates careful deliberation regarding its implications for stakeholders and the overall business landscape.

Requirements and Process

Requirements and Process

Choose a Company Name

When naming your private limited company, ensure it is unique and not similar to existing ones. It typically must end with 'Limited' or 'Ltd,’ with Welsh equivalents if registered in Wales. Avoid offensive or sensitive terms without permission. Trading names should not include certain terms or resemble other companies' trademarks. If your company is a registered charity or limited by guarantee under specific conditions, you might not need to use 'Limited' in your name according to your articles of association.

A Company Can Change Its Name Through-

A Special Resolution

Under the Companies Act 2006, changing a company name typically requires approval through a special resolution, which proposes the decision for shareholder endorsement. This resolution can be adopted either at a general meeting, such as the annual general meeting, or a session specially convened for this purpose. The notice for such a meeting must contain the precise wording of the special resolution. To pass, the special resolution necessitates a majority vote, i.e., at least 75% of eligible voters must vote in favour of the proposed name change.

Private companies have the option to change the company name without convening a shareholder meeting. Instead, either the directors or shareholders can propose a written special resolution, which can be distributed to all eligible voting members. According to Section 283 of the Companies Act 2006, the written resolution must explicitly indicate that it is a special resolution and must secure approval from a majority of at least 75% of eligible voting members.

Provisions in Article of Association

For certain private companies, there might be an alternative procedure to change their name. If your company was established through custom articles of association, it is advisable to review them to see if there are any specific provisions allowing the directors to authorise a change of company name through a board resolution, without requiring shareholder approval.

However, if your company, like many others, was incorporated with standard articles, you must seek shareholder approval by passing a resolution to change the company name, as outlined previously.

Once you have obtained approval for the new company name, you are ready to finalise your application for the name change and submit it to the Companies House.

Process to Change Name

Nowadays, online platforms, the Companies House website and several software platforms have made the process of altering a company's name convenient, swift, and budget-friendly. Traditional paper forms are still available but choosing to file them tends to be pricier and more time-consuming.

In terms of online options, Companies House offers a service that is exclusively for filing name changes made through special resolution. The filing fee is Β£8, or Β£30 for same-day service.

Process to change name

If applying through post, you must download and fill in Form NM01. Make sure to include a copy of the special resolution that changed the name with your application. Send the form along with a cheque for Β£10 to the address indicated on the form.

For registrations permitted by the articles of association, you must download and complete form NM04. Then, send the form along with a cheque for Β£10 to the address provided on the form.

Conclusion

In summary, the decision to change a company's name involves strategic planning and adherence to legal requirements, often necessitating shareholder approval through a special resolution as per the Companies Act 2006. Whether driven by strategic repositioning, mergers and acquisitions, or branding concerns, the process requires careful consideration to ensure that the new name aligns with business objectives and regulatory standards. Modern technology has facilitated the name change process, offering convenient online platforms alongside traditional paper forms for registration.

Ultimately, a company's name change signifies more than just a superficial alteration - it communicates a strategic shift and renewed identity to stakeholders and the broader business landscape, updating the company’s position in an evolving market.

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