- Revenue approved share options and plans
- Unapproved share options
- 'Phantom' equity schemes
- Direct shareholdings
Determining the Type of Plan
The key factors for determining what type of plan is appropriate for a business are:
- Aligning desired business objectives with outcomes from plan (e.g. growth in company profits vs growth in equity value)
- Seniority of personnel involved
- Desired tax outcomes
Choosing the Correct Plan
Many companies will operate a number of plans to incentivise different cohorts of employees towards different goals. The following table sets out an overview of the main forms of plans used by private companies with Irish employees. However, this list is not exhaustive and plans can be created to address a variety of desired outcomes.
Given the tax impact on many of the plans mentioned above, ensuring appropriate advice and certainty on supporting market value of the shares at date of award is likely to be critical.
Private Equity-backed Companies
In companies backed by private equity investors, plans are often specifically tailored to align employees’ actions with the investor’s economic outcomes. These plans may be based on some of the plans described within this Update or be specifically tailored to the key objectives of the investor. As with any of the other plans described herein, getting appropriate advice on appropriate structure and tax considerations at the outset is critical.
Other Considerations / Nominee Arrangements
In addition to considering the correct type of plan for employees and structuring for employee departure, all plans and equity awards should be implemented in a way that is suitable for the shareholding structure of the company. In particular, if participants have relatively small equity stakes in the company, a trustee or nominee structure should be considered. This should reduce the number of parties required to sign various documents when the company is involved in any kind of activity requiring shareholder involvement (from matters as simple as changing the company name, to taking in additional investment, trade sale or corporate reorganisation). These arrangements should be set up in a way which enables the nominee to take all actions on behalf of the parties for whom it holds shares. These arrangements are helpful in all situations where there are a number of parties with small equity stakes but are particularly important where employees who have left employment are entitled to retain an equity stake.
Further InformationThe team at Maples has significant experience in advising on structuring and implementing tailored plans for a wide variety of clients. If you are interested in any further information on this topic, please liaise with your usual Maples Group contact or any of the contacts listed below.