Employee Stock Ownership Plans, often referred to as ESOPs, offer a unique opportunity for employees to participate in the growth and success of their employer while providing substantial tax benefits to existing and selling shareholders.
ESOPs offer business owners and management an effective means of providing equity incentives to employees while cultivating the innovation and productivity benefits of an ownership culture. Establishing an ESOP gives existing shareholders an opportunity to transfer ownership to employees with substantial tax advantages. ESOPs can also be an effective mechanism for financing corporate acquisitions. There are a variety of valuable tax benefits available for sellers of stock to ESOPs, for companies with ESOPs as stockholders and for employees who participate in ESOPs.
Our lawyers have extensive experience with ESOPs and ESOP transactions. Our ESOP practice is based on the transactional experience of our attorneys, our specific knowledge of ESOPs in financing and acquisition contexts and our understanding of the complex legal and regulatory schemes applicable to ESOPs. Our ESOP attorneys have backgrounds in a variety of practice areas including corporate, securities, tax and employee benefits.
ESOPs are qualified employee benefit plans created by Congress to promote employee ownership. ESOPs exist in a highly regulated environment under federal tax and employee benefits laws and are subject to the rules and oversight of regulatory agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor. As a result, ESOPs require considerable advance planning to meet the legal requirements imposed on them and to satisfy the needs of employee participants. Our employee benefits team has provided legal counsel to numerous clients, ranging in size from large public companies to small private and family-owned businesses, and can assist with the preparation, design and implementation of ESOP plans and trust arrangements.
Our attorneys have represented various parties in transactions where ESOPs have acquired all or a portion of the stock of a company and legal counsel is now needed to help guide a business owner or management team through the lengthy, complicated process.
Often an ESOP represents only a portion of the financing for a particular transaction, and its involvement tends to introduce numerous complexities to acquisition financing. Our attorneys have experience in public and private debt transactions as well as mezzanine financings involving ESOPs and can assist lenders or borrowers in these financings.