Purchase Warrants: A New Tool for Business Succession and Key Employee Retention

By John D. Menke, Esq. A & E firms, like other service businesses, face two challenges to business succession. First, how will the firm finance the buyout of the founders when they are ready to exit the business? Second, how will the firm best be able to provide equity incentives to attract and retain key employees who will become successor management when the founders exit the business? The exit vehicle for founders of A & E firms traditionally has been to redeem the stock of a founder in exchange for cash and/or a seller note when the founder is ready to exit the firm. But this approach has three distinct disadvantages. First, if the founder is a significant equity holder, as is usually the case, the redemption will result in reducing the number of share outstanding, thus increasing the per- share value per share of the remaining shares. This increase ... Read More..

The Employee Stock Ownership Trust – A New Trend In Employee Benefits and Corporate Finance

An increasing number of companies are turning to Employee Stock Ownership Trust financing as a means to simultaneously raise low cost capital and provide increased employee incentives and retirement benefits while reducing the cost of qualified plan benefits. The Employee Stock Ownership Plan is a qualified plan under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. As such it is in the same family as pension plans, profit sharing plans and stock bonus plans. Nevertheless, The Employee Stock Ownership Plan (which together with the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, is referred to as the “Trust” or “ESOP”) is qualitatively different from other types of “qualified plans,” both in its concept and in its applications. Because of its inherent flexibility, because of its ability to facilitate and enhance corporate growth and because of its separate status under the recently enacted Pension Reform Act, the ESOP possesses an assortment of unique advantages not possessed ... Read More..

The Use of ESOPs to Finance Mergers and Acquisitions

Advantages to C Corporations Many companies that have ESOPs fail to realize that their ESOP can be used to the finance acquisitions with pre-tax dollars. Normally, when debt is incurred to finance an acquisition, only the interest payments are deductible.  Principal payments are not deductible.  However, if the acquisition is financed through an ESOP, both the interest and the principal payments will be fully deductible, and this will be true whether the plan sponsor is structured as a regular C corporation or as an S corporation. In addition, if both the acquiring company and the target company are structured as  regular C corporations, or both convert to C corporation status before consummating the merger, then the shareholders of the target corporation can qualify for tax-free rollover treatment upon the sale of their stock to the acquiring company’s ESOP.  This additional tax savings gives the acquiring company a distinct advantage in ... Read More..

Stock Distributions – An Occasional Trap for the Unwary

Distributions from an ESOP in the form of shares of company stock have many advantages. One of the compelling reasons for making distribution in the form of company stock, for example, is that distributions in the form of company stock enable participants to have a portion of their distribution taxed at long term capital gains tax rates rather than having the entire distribution taxed at ordinary income tax rates. This tax benefit derives from IRC Section 402(e)(4)(B), which provides that the employee will not be taxed at the time of distribution on the net unrealized appreciation attributable to employer securities. The result is that the employee pays tax on the cumulative cost basis of the employer securities at the time of distribution, and pays a long term capital gains tax on the appreciation at the time that the stock is sold back to the plan or to the company, as ... Read More..

Faltering Economy Highlights Need for a Restructuring of America

Why Is It Necessary to Restructure America? Socialism and communism developed as a reaction to the concentration of ownership and the abusive labor practices that developed in the early stages of capitalism. However, after nearly a century of conflict between these two competing economic systems, a century that witnessed two world wars and a protracted cold war, we have seen in the past 10 years the almost complete collapse of all forms of socialism and communism which were based upon public or state ownership of the means of production. Today, China is the only major industrialized nation which still has an official policy of state ownership of the means of production, although here too this policy is being rapidly eroded by the growth of the private sector economy. However, despite the apparent triumph of capitalism over socialism and communism, despite the passage of labor law legislation during the New Deal ... Read More..

The Perfect Solution to the Perfect Storm: How an SR ESOP Can Be Used to Save Your Business from Bankruptcy

A “perfect storm” has hit the U.S. economy and its privately-held businesses. Consumer purchasing power has dried up, resulting in reduced revenues for almost all privately-held businesses. At the same time most banks have stopped or curtailed lending, and bank credit is no longer available to many businesses. During the past two quarters many businesses have downsized their operations and have implemented reductions-in-force, yet they are still faced with negative cash flows. Fortunately, there is a perfect solution to the negative cash flow problem that many businesses will experience for the rest of this year and most of next year. That solution utilizes a well-known tool that has been part of the tax code for over 35 years. It is a tool that is relatively inexpensive to implement and does not require the use of outside lenders or expensive factoring companies. The solution is to implement a Salary Reduction Employee ... Read More..

Four Ways That a Cash Flow ESOP Can Be Used To Help Your Company Survive the Credit Crunch

A “perfect storm” has hit the U. S. economy and its privately-held businesses. Consumer purchasing power has dried up, resulting in reduced revenues for almost all privately-held businesses. At the same time most banks have stopped or curtailed lending, and bank credit is no longer available to many businesses. ... Read More..

ESOP Marketability Discounts: Is the "Put Option" Argument Fallacious?

Virtually every ESOP appraisal that has been written in the past 10 years has concluded that, both in the case of purchases of company stock by an ESOP from direct shareholders and in the case of subsequent distributions and repurchases of company stock to and from plan participants, the discount for lack of marketability is greatly diminished by virtue of the ESOP “put option.” This article reviews the origin and development of the put option argument in the appraisal literature and concludes that (1) the put option argument is fallacious with respect to purchases of company stock from direct shareholders and (2) nevertheless, there should be no marketability discount with respect to purchases of company stock from direct shareholders. The issue of marketability discounts in ESOP transactions is an issue that has been crying out for clarification ever since the Eyler case was decided by the Tax Court in 1995 ... Read More..

Exit Strategies

The exit strategies available to owners of electrical wholesaling firms are somewhat limited. The available strategies include selling the business to a competitor, selling the business to the management employees, or selling the business to all of its employees under the provisions of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”). ... Read More..

An Open Letter to Business Owners

Dear Business Owner, Would you be interested in selling part or all of your stock in your company if you could sell it for more than twice what it is currently worth? Case Study I: The Benefits of a Gradual Sale to an ESOP We recently helped one of our clients do just that. Company X is a successful home health care company whose sales and profits have been growing at 15% per annum. The owner recently turned down an offer to sell his entire company for $6 million. Instead of selling the entire company now, we structured a transaction whereby the owner will sell 10% of his stock each year to an ESOP over the next ten years. As a result of selling his stock on a year-by-year basis at increasing prices each year, the owner of this company will ultimately receive over $14 million dollars for his stock. This ... Read More..

Why Should You Consider an ESOP?

Dear Reader: As president of Menke & Associates, Inc., I believe there is significant untapped growth potential in most privately held companies. Whether you want to sell some or all of your stock in the company in the next five years or whether you plan to remain active for the long term, Menke & Associates, Inc. proposes to work with you to develop a program which should help you achieve your growth potential and multiply the total value of your investment in the company. Our experience with more than 2,000 companies nationwide since 1974 proves to us that only on-site, hands-on owners consistently tap the energy, unlock the ingenuity, and muster the commitment necessary to make a business successful. After all, who cares whether the business succeeds or fails? Only owners really care. Over the past 35 years more than 40,000 U.S. company owners have taken advantage of this opportunity ... Read More..

The Origin and History of the ESOP and Its Future Role as a Business Succession Tool

The First ESOP (1956) San Francisco lawyer and economist Louis O. Kelso created the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) in 1956 as a way to transition ownership of Peninsula Newspapers, Inc. from its two founders (both then in their 80s) to their chosen successors, the managers and employees. Kelso had long believed that the company’s own employees should be the logical buyers and the ultimate owners; they were the ones who made the business successful in the first place, and the ones who knew the ins and outs of the business better than anyone else in the industry. The two founders had long wanted their employees to inherit ownership. They had promised that when the time came for them to retire, the employees would have the first right of refusal. They had seen too many of their competitors gobbled up by large newspaper chains, and they had seen the ... Read More..

Tax Alert for Business Owners

Dear Business Owner, This may be the opportune time to take action to avoid the increase in capital gains tax rates that will take effect after 2010. As you may know, the Bush tax rate cuts, including the current 15% capital gains tax rate, are slated to expire at the end of 2010. In addition, if the U.S. economy starts to turn around in the third or fourth quarter of this year, we believe there is a strong possibility that the Obama budget for 2010 will propose an increase in the capital gains tax rate starting in 2010 rather than in 2011. Assuming that you have an interest in locking in the capital gains tax at the current rate but do not wish to sell your entire company to a third party, there are two tax strategies that you can use to lock in the current capital gains tax rate, ... Read More..

A Modest Proposal for a New, New Deal

Capitalism collapsed in the fall of 2008. It’s collapse was also the direct result of a flaw in the system. Capitalism promised universal opportunity and a rising tide for everyone. To achieve this result, capitalism privatized and/or deregulated every possible industry. It glorified greed, extravagant executive compensation, and financial manipulation. Just as in the case of communism, it failed to place any real purchasing power into the hands of the workers. Over the past 20 years, the economic purchasing power of U.S. workers has decreased by an alarming percentage, despite the overall growth of the U.S. economy. U.S. capitalism delayed the day of reckoning by devising a host of innovative but lethal financial tools such as subprime mortages, negative amortization loans, and credit cards and automibile loans that were issued with no questions asked. Now that the bubble has burst, the Goverment’s only solution seems to be a massive “stimulus” ... Read More..

Restoring The American Dream

Economic Stimulation and Solutions for Creating New American Jobs and for Protecting Existing American Jobs By John D. Menke, Esq. Historical Background of the American Dream Since the very founding of the original thirteen colonies, America has always been known as the land of economic opportunity and as the most capitalistic country on the face of the earth. During the 1700s and the 1800s, immigrants by the millions came to our shores in search of the opportunity to participate in the American dream­ the opportunity to find a job and then later to become the owner of a farm, a ranch or a small business. During most of the history of this country, Americans by the millions were able to realize their dreams. Although initially most had to work long hours in low paying jobs, many were eventually able to become capital owners. Over the last thirty years, however, this ... Read More..

ESOPs and PHILANTHROPY: What Non-Profit and Tax-Exempt Organizations Should Know about ESOPs

Approximately 97 percent of our nation’s businesses are privately-held. In spite of this, charitable and tax-exempt organizations have not achieved particularly significant results in securing major gift income from owners of closely-held companies. The reasons for this apparent oversight may be understandable. Although small business owners may head enterprises worth substantial amounts of money, frequently, the bulk of their net worth can be tied up in the companies they own. Thus, even if owners of closely-held companies express an interest in philanthropy, the chances are their gifts might need to be funded with closely-held stock. It is this which poses two problems: Stock issued by privately-held companies can be very difficult to value. In addition, there is usually no ready market for privately-held securities. There is a related problem. In many instances the business owner may have held this stock for a prolonged period; and during that time, the stock ... Read More..

Why Giving To The Esop Foundation Is Now Critically Important

By John D. Menke Although the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”) concept continues to enjoy bipartisan support in Congress, this support is still not deep. Current support for the tax incentives that are essential to the adoption of new ESOPs comes from only a handful of key members of the House and the Senate.Meanwhile, during recent years many ESOP allies have retired or lost their seats. We now have fewer ESOP supporters than at any time during the last 20 years. This problem is compounded by the following unfortunate facts: First, most Congressional representatives rely heavily upon staff to advise them on proposed bills. These aides are recent university graduates with little or no knowledge of ESOPs; moreover, they tend to serve only a year or two before moving on to the private sector. Given their lack of knowledge of the benefits that ESOPs provide to American workers and business ... Read More..