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Employee Stock Ownership (ESOP)

Navigating ESOP’s complex tax and fiduciary issues requires specialized experience.  HJRF attorneys have been nationally recognized as trusted ESOP advisors for over 25 years using innovative approaches and methodologies to guide corporate entities in all aspects of the design, establishment and implementation of ESOPs.  We also have extensive experience in advising ESOP fiduciaries on their fiduciary duties, and on defending them in DOL investigations and lawsuits.

Our ESOP clients include selling shareholders, lenders, trustees and plan fiduciaries. Our experience in ESOP transactions ranges from corporate acquisitions and mergers, establishment of a plan to incentivize the work force or to ease a business ownership transition and succession, as a financing tool for management and leveraged buyouts, and in connection with shareholder liquidity events.

In order to provide our clients with an integrated all-encompassing experience, we work closely with a network of other ESOP professionals such as feasibility study consultants, valuation advisors and investment bankers. Our work in this area includes the following:

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ESOP

  • Feasibility study analysis
  • Draw up ESOP plan and trust documents
  • Draw up all ESOP transaction-related documents

ADMINISTRATION OF THE ESOP

  • Advise on share distributions and repurchase procedures
  • Advise on compliance with ERISA
  • Advise and representation related to IRS and DOL audits
  • Advise regarding issues involved in ESOP terminations

RESCUING THE ESOP

We specialize and have unique experience in addressing issues that ESOPs encounter on a regular basis that may impact or threaten their continued viability.  Clients call us “Mr. Fix It” because we fix what is broken in the operation or management of the ESOP and allow the entity to continue to operate successfully.

TERMINATING THE ESOP

When necessary, clients retain us to terminate the ESOP.  Our approach to these assignments is to conduct the termination as efficiently as possible while protecting the interests of everyone involved.

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION FOR ESOP OWNED COMPANIES

  • Develop key employee incentive plans for senior management that complement the operation of the ESOP

REPRESENTATION OF ESOP TRUSTEES AND FIDUCIARIES

  • Provide counseling on their fiduciary obligations
  • Advise on governance issues
  • Provide counseling and representation in IRS and DOL audits.