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European Top Executives massively buying own company shares

With the fire sale of shares on the stock exchange, a strong phenomenon has developed in  recent weeks: European Top Executives are massively buying their own company shares.

This can be seen in the hundreds of releases of "insider dealing". In Italy roundup of Eni, Enel, Mediobanca, IntesaSanpaolo, Indesit and dozens of others. Top Executives buying millions of shares. The same in Germany with Metro, BASF… In Sweden with Husqvarna… In France  Air Liquide, Alcatel-Lucent ... Same at Barclays, Shell... All major companies are affected.

In two words: The short-termists sinking into panic, long-term investors and Top Executives at first take the opportunity to buy cheap.

What about the ordinary employee? What's good for Executives should be good for employees too.

Unfortunately, any legislation promoting a simple and convenient employee ownership model is still lacking in too many European countries.

What are the worst performers of the European class in this area? Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. Yes, we find here the same list of countries that are stigmatized in the crisis of Euro interest rates. These countries need structural changes, including the development of employee share ownership. Also in the back of the classroom: Belgium, The Netherlands and most Central and Eastern European countries.

The consequence of this lack of legislation: In all these countries, only 10 to 15% of employees are shareholders of large companies, compared to 30% on average in Europe. For good students, it rises to 25, 30 or 50%. These are Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Great Britain, Sweden, France. It is remarkable that over the last10 years, employee share ownership has become an ingredient of the "Nordic model".

Recently, the European social partners have launched an appeal to governments. The European Economic and Social Committee took this initiative. The Committee brings together European business representatives, trade unions and civil society. The opinion is clear and unambiguous.

Aimed at large enterprises, each European country should introduce into its legislation a "simplified model" of employee share ownership, making its development stronger and easier.

Aimed at small and medium sized enterprises, each European country should encourage the transfer of business to employees, following the example of what the U.S. has established since 1974 with the "ESOP model", allowing employees to buy their business without paying a cent, with a long-term credit.

The strength and consistency of employee share ownership will be more and more one of the factors and one of the characteristic elements of good governance in European companies, of better economic performance and regained trust.

The opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee is available on page


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Marc Mathieu
Secretario General
Avenue Voltaire 135, B-1030 Bruxelles
Tel/fax: +32 (0)2 242 64 30
El objetivo de EFES es actuar como la organización federativa de los accionistas asalariados, de empresas y de todas las personas, sindicatos, expertos, investigadores o instituciones que actuan para promover el accionariado asalariado y la participación en Europa.

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