Significant 2007 Growth in ESOPs

Employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) and ESOP-like plans saw a significant increase in number and size in 2007 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).

The NCEO data indicated that the plans added more than $250 billion in assets in 2007 and about 700,000 participants.

Between 2006 and 2007, the NCEO said, participant levels went from 10.5 million to 11.2 million, assets from $675 billion to $928 billion, and number of plans from 9,650 to 9,774. By comparison, 1995 data showed 7.75 million participants, $226 billion in assets, and 8,000 plans.

NCEO said that while there is no definitive explanation for the growth trends, equity market gains during 2007 and the general trend of ESOP firms to outperform their peers might explain the asset and participant growth.

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