UCL Faculty of Laws


Corporate Finance (LAWS0259)

The module examines how companies finance their operations: by raising equity or debt capital, using forms of mezzanine financing, or relying on their retained earnings.

We will approach the topic from both a finance and a legal perspective. We will discuss basic concepts of corporate valuation and theories of capital structure, including some of the cornerstones of finance theory, such as discounted cash flow and the capital asset pricing model. 

These concepts will inform our analysis of the legal framework governing the capital structure of companies. Our discussion will cover the nature of legal capital, minimum capital rules and the capital maintenance regime pursuant to the UK Companies Act 2006, including the regulation of distributions, capital reductions, share buy-backs and redeemable shares. 

The second part of the module will concentrate on issuing debt and equity. We will again consider the legal framework against the backdrop of finance theory, notably questions of market efficiency and the challenge that behavioural finance poses to the efficient capital market hypothesis. 

We will consider both the corporate law requirements that apply when a company raises equity or debt capital and the extensive requirements of securities regulation that govern the public offering of equity and debt securities and their listing on regulated markets. 

The module focuses on UK law, with references to relevant EU legislation and some other legal systems (particularly US law) where this is helpful to illustrate differences in approaches to regulation and shortcomings of particular regulatory solutions. 

Background knowledge in finance is not required, but students should be willing to engage with the finance literature and familiarise themselves with key concepts of finance theory. 

By the end of this module students should: 

  • have a good understanding of the key elements of the legal environment relating to corporate finance;
  • have a solid basic understanding of key concepts of corporate finance, such as net present value, the relationship between risk and return, Modigliani-Miller irrelevance, and the efficient capital market hypothesis;
  • have a solid basic understanding of the relationship between law and corporate finance and be able to evaluate regulatory mechanisms in light of corporate finance theory;
  • have a basic understanding of the interaction of the regulatory environment and current market practice.

Module syllabus

  1. Introduction to corporate finance 

  1. Capital structure 

  1. Raising share capital & payment for shares 

  1. Dividends/distributions 

  1. Share buybacks 

  1. Reduction & redemption of capital 

  1. Financial assistance 

  1. Private equity 

  1. Debt finance, bonds & securitization 

  1. Share allotments & anti-dilution rights 

  1. IPOs & primary market disclosures 

  1. Liability for secondary market disclosures 

  1. Revision 

Recommended materials

We will use the following books as a core textbook for the module: 

  • Louise Gullifer and Jennifer Payne, Corporate Finance Law: Principles and Policy (3rd edn., Hart Publishing 2020) 

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment. No single book takes the approach envisaged for this module. The convenor is happy to discuss reading if contacted by a student during the module. 

Preliminary reading

No prior knowledge of finance or economics is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though this will be helpful. Those with no knowledge of company law will need to do some additional background reading and it is advised to read - Alan Dignam & John Lowry, Company Law (12th edn, Oxford University Press 2022), chapters 1-2.  

Key information

Module details
Credit value:45 credits (450 learning hours)
Convenor:Marc Moore
Other Teachers:Graham Penn, Jonathan Chan, Pedro Schilling de Carvalho 
Teaching Delivery:20 x 2-hour weekly seminars, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two 
Who may enrol:LLM students only
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in Corporate Law
LLM in International Banking and Finance Law 
Practice Assessment:Two formative essays (one in each term) 
Final Assessment:3,000 Word Essay (50%) Controlled Condition Exam (50%)