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An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a benefit plan with advantages for the company, employees, and the original owners. Owners sell shares to the ESOP trust, which holds them for the employees.
Currently, there are about 6,941 ESOPs and equivalent plans employing roughly 13.5 million U.S. employees. ESOP companies are diverse: there are ESOPs in almost every industry and in all company sizes.