Monday, 11 April 2022

There are certain years which we all come to remember. 1066 was the year when the Normans invaded us. 1666 was the date when the great fire destroyed the city of London. 1945 saw the end of the Second World War. 

There is no doubt that for most of us the year 2021 will soon join those dates we can never forget. It was the year when all our lives were changed, often personally as well as our business lives. And that is why for this year only these awards have been differently judged and take a different format. 

Normally we are guided by an expert panel of people who from their experience can judge the ingenuity and skills of employee share plans. In 2021 all plans were affected by the pandemic and we decided to look in preference at how companies achieved success in adaptation to the temporary new world.  

And so for this year, Esop Centre founder, Malcolm Hurlston CBE, guided by Centre colleagues, Fred Hackworth, the editor of newspad and Juliet Wigzell, manager of the Centre, exceptionally, turned our awards into Esop Stars.

The Centre is grateful to all who submitted entries.

In addition to the stars for entries received, Mr Hurlston made special awards to two people on the world scale who have given outstanding examples for the way forward. 

The first award was to the chairman of the Chinese company Tencent, Pony Ma. He not only installed share schemes in the company for all employees but in addition gave equity to all employees from his personal holding. Malcolm will be sending his award to the China Development Centre in Shenzhen.

The second special award went to John Menke who was a colleague of Louis Kelso who created the Esop in California.

Accepting his Esop Star, John said that he was honoured to accept the award, and that he felt blessed to have been involved in Esops from the beginning. He told how Esops evolved from a pet project of Louis Kelso, to the two of them being able to work with Congress to draft the Esop provisions - nearly 50 years ago - to seeing the enormous economic and social consequences of Esops in the US and around the world.

He added that it is very pleasing to see the concept is still growing and expanding, as witnessed by the recent announcement that 50-60 private equity firms have embarked on a new project to spend $20billion over the next decade, to implement Esops in private equity owned companies, where Esops have yet to play a significant role.

He hopes Esops will become five, or even ten times bigger over the next 50 years.

The major awards – the Esop Stars – were awarded to:

Ceres Power

In recognition that the Ceres Sharesave 2021 plan showed rare success in adaption to the covid year, in reference to its effective communications of the plan to a multi-national workforce.

Kindred Group

In recognition that the K2 AESP plan showed rare success in adaption to the covid year, referring to the plan’s international and inclusive reach.

Nigel Le Quesne

The CEO of JTC was awarded the Esop Star for outstanding company leader, in recognition of his effective promotion of all-employee equity with rare enthusiasm.

Winch Designs

In recognition that the Winch Employee Ownership Trust plan showed rare success in adaption to the covid year, referring to the success of the EOT, which owns 100 percent of the company on behalf of all 140 employees.

Wise plc

In recognition that the Wise All-Employee Global Long-Term Incentive Plan was commended for its inclusive equity in a covid world.