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The Employee Ownership Update

Corey Rosen

March 1, 2010

(Corey Rosen)

Conservatives in UK Now Want to Expand Worker Ownership to All Public Sectors

In the last few months, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has called for privatization of health services into employee-owned companies, using the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership as a model. Now the Conservative Party is proposing that employees in any public service organization, including schools, be able to reorganize as an employee-owned company. The Labor and Liberal parties have also endorsed the idea for health services, but have not yet responded to the newest proposal. Details of the proposal can be found at this link (PDF format).

New NCEO Data Looks at Frequency of Broad-Based Option and Stock Purchase Plans

There is no easy way to find out how many companies have broad-based option plans (plans offered to most or all employees) or ESPPs. There is no required government registration for these plans, so the only practical way to find out is to look in the benefits section of their careers page on the Web or, in some cases, in their 10-K filings (many companies do not provide all of this information there, however). So the NCEO has been painstakingly going through a list of over 2,000 large public companies to compile who has plans and who does not. We will also soon have data on other kinds of broad-based equity plans (restricted stock, stock appreciation rights, and phantom stock). So far, we have found that about 12% of the companies have broad-based options and about 30% have ESPPs. The list will be completed in the next two weeks and will be available for purchase. My next column will provide more details on that.

ABC News Story on Bob's Red Mill

ABC News ran a story on how Bob Moore "gave" his company, Bob's Red Mill, to its 200 employees (actually it was transferred through an ESOP, I presume at some price, albeit no doubt lower than what the company might have gotten on the market). The company is well-known for its natural grain products and has been performing well in recent years. A link to the quite moving story is at this link.

Foundation for Enterprise Development Sponsors Essay Contest on Employee Ownership

The Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED) has created a national program titled "Creating Wealth by Sharing WealthTM," open to graduate and undergraduate students. The purpose of the student essay contest is to foster creative thinking among college students about sustainable growth of 21st-century companies.
Participating professors will receive complimentary copies of a business book for each student in their class. The professor will invite the students to voluntarily submit an essay based on one of the contest questions using the book as a resource. Every student would keep the book whether she or he participates or not. There will be modest prizes for winners. For professors who want to participate, go to this link for details. All notifications of university participation should be in by April. A recognition ceremony at a major ownership-related conference is planned for spring 2011. If a professor is interested or has any questions, he/she can contact me or Wai-Lean Roos at wroos@fed.org, or call her at (858) 754-3559.

Janich, Dodge Appointed to the NCEO Board

Under our bylaws, the NCEO board appoints two people to the board each year in addition to the five who are elected (see my last column for the winners). This year, the board reappointed Dan Janich of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C., and Elizabeth Dodge of Stock & Options Solutions. Both Dan and Elizabeth have been very active in helping craft NCEO equity materials, and I am delighted to have them on the board.

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