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 Oxford Symposium 2023

60 experts and practitioners gathered at Oxford University on 30 and 31 August.

There, they discussed the tools of collective employee ownership, the form of employee ownership that enables SMEs to be transferred to employees on a large scale.

When the owner of an SME wants to retire, the best option is often to transfer the business on to employees. But this is not just about a few shares, the sums involved are much larger. This is not something individual employees can take on. On the other hand, it is perfect for collective employee ownership.

The collective ownership approach avoids the need for employees to invest, risk their own savings or go into debt. Financing comes from outside, in the form of credit, and employees do not bear the risk.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, trusts are used as the legal vehicle for organising this effectively. In the United States, they have used the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) since 1974. In the UK, the Employee Ownership Trust option is becoming increasingly popular.

There are legal vehicles in many European countries that can be used for the same collective employee ownership process. Their names vary from country to country: private foundation, fondation privée, fiducie, stichting administratiekantoor, Privatstiftung, stiftelse,…

A first set of European countries has now been identified. Currently, the aim is to draw up the model employee ownership vehicle in line with the legislation of each country. Calling all interested lawyers!

Press review
We have a selection of 24 remarkable articles in 8 countries in August 2023: Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Great Britain, USA.
Czechia: Czech legislation is still an obstacle to the development of employee share ownership. Some advocate a competing device, profit-sharing.
Germany: Government agreement to encourage employee share ownership.
Spain: New employee share plan for Axa.
Italy: There is little to say about employee share ownership in Italy.
Japan: Japan to ease stock-option tax rules to help startups gain talent.
Netherlands: An example of a Dutch-style employee ownership foundation.
UK: Thanks to the Employee Ownership Trust scheme, every day a new SME is transferred to employees. This month, among others, the case of: Scala Consultancy, Instinct Resourcing recruitment, EA Collective Agency, Highland Fuels, Big Group, WCF Limited. With over 13,000 employees, Churchill Group is the largest ever transition to an Employee Ownership Trust.
USA: Growing attention for Employee Ownership Trusts. Workers become millionaires in sale of employee-owned Philadelphia insurance company. BDO to Establish Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Teamshares represents employee ownership for SMEs in private equity style.

The full press review is available on:


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   With best regards



Marc Mathieu
Secretary General
Avenue Voltaire 135, B-1030 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 242 64 30 - Fax: +32 (0)2 791 96 00
Web site:
EFES' objective is to act as the umbrella organization of employee owners, companies and all persons, trade unions, experts, researchers, institutions looking to promote employee share ownership and participation in Europe.