Far too often, investors, including venture capital companies, assume that as long as they do not retain the largest shareholder interest in a company, that they cannot create affiliation problems impacting what is a key to companies’ initial success in government contracting: small business status. Wrong. A recent U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) decision makes this a stark reality, upholding a determination that an apparent awardee in a set-aside procurement is other-than-small based on affiliation arising from its mere 4.16 percent stock ownership interest in another company.
If a contractor has ever thought about certifying its size as small under a particular NAICS code, hopefully they reviewed the SBA regulations on affiliation in advance. The analysis of whether a company is small in size does not start and end with the receipts or number of employees for that company, but is instead considered as a spiderweb of connections with other individuals and entities. In order to determine a concern’s size, SBA counts not only the receipts or employees of the concern but also the receipts or employees of each of the concern’s domestic and foreign affiliates.
Concerns and entities are affiliates of each other when one controls or even has the power to control the other, or a third party or parties controls or has the power to control both. 13 C.F.R. § 121.103(a). In determining affiliation, there are numerous factors that the SBA must consider – including, ownership, management, and previous relationships with or ties to other concerns. SBA’s analysis concerns the totality of the circumstances; the absence of any single factor will not be considered dispositive.
Continue Reading Investors Beware: Minority Ownership Interests Can Create Affiliation and Defeat Small Business Size Status