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The Employee Ownership Update

Corey Rosen

June 7, 2004

(Corey Rosen)

NCEO Issues Annual Employee Ownership 100 List

The National Center for Employee Ownership has issued its annual "employee ownership 100 list," a compilation of the 100 largest majority employee owned companies. Companies are listed by the number of employees. To be on the list companies must have at least a majority of their stock owned by a majority of full-time employees with one year or more of service. Most of the companies on the list are employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), but some are owned by direct purchases of employee shares, profit sharing plans, or employee trusts. Almost all the companies are closely held because it would be difficult to be public and meet the majority ownership test. Two exceptions are Journal Communications and Ferrellgas.

The companies include representatives from all industry groups. The most common industry is supermarkets, with 12 companies on the list and four of the top 10. There is no obvious reason for the idea's popularity in this sector, however. Ten of the companies are in engineering and eight in construction. Some of the country's best-known names are on the list, including top-ranked Publix Supermarkets, school photographer Lifetouch, window-maker Andersen Corporation, Gore-Tex manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates, tree service company Davey Tree, newspaper publisher Journal Communications (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, as well as a number of media outlets and printing facilities), and fast-food chains Round Table Pizza and Hot-Dog-on-Stick. The company with the longest established employee ownership plan is Graybar Electric in Saint Louis, dating back to 1929. The 100 companies employ about 800,000 workers.

Unions, FASB Oversight Panel, Pension Funds Urge Congress Not to Intervene in Options Accounting Reform

Forty major institutional investors and investor advisory groups, large public retirement funds, labor unions, institutional investors, and the Council of Institutional investors issued a statement on May 19 urging Congress not to tamper with accounting reform. On May 17, Robert Denham, president of the Financial Accounting Foundation, the group that oversees the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), made a strongly worded statement also urging Congress not to act, arguing that it would be a threat the to credibility of accounting statements for U.S. companies. While legislation to block FASB's efforts have made some progress in the House, the chair and ranking minority members of the Senate Banking Committee (Richard Shelby, R-AL and Paul Sarbanes, D-MD) both strongly oppose the bill.

Record Attendance at NCEO/Beyster Institute Annual Conference

The NCEO's 23rd annual conference, held in Chicago jointly with the Beyster Institute, attracted a record turnout, selling out shortly before the conference started. Next year's conference, again with the Beyster Institute, will be in San Francisco April 20-22.

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