Ownership Associates on track for more EOT deals in 2020

Ownership Associates Founding Director Carole Leslie at employee-owned Clansman Dynamics in East Kilbride

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  • Carole Leslie-run Ownership Associates completed 11 deals in 2019 and has secured 6 Employee Ownership Trust deals so far in 2020
  • Scotland has around 90 employee-owned companies
  • Carole Leslie: “Employee ownership is growing faster in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK and Covid-19 and changes to the tax regime are making EOTs increasingly attractive to business owners” 

EMPLOYEE Ownership Trust (EOT) specialist Ownership Associates in on track for more EOT deals in 2020 following a record 2019 when the Carole Leslie-run firm completed 11 EOTs across Scotland.  Ownership Associates has secured 6 deals so far this year, has a number more in transition, and is experiencing strong levels of interest in the EOT route from companies across a range of industry sectors.   

Deals completed in 2019 included two EOTs in Shetland with pharmaceutical consultancy ESPL and Laurence Odie Knitwear, Fife-based engineering firm GS Brown, demolition firm Safedem and internet marketing firm Buzzbase in Dundee, East Kilbride-based engineering consultancy Grossart Associates and the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh.

Carole Leslie said: “We have worked alongside so many amazing teams down the years and last year was an exceptional year of activity.  Having said that, 2020 is looking really strong with 6 deals over the line and a number more in transition stage.  We also have a pipeline of more than 20 businesses all at different stages in their plans. We can see this decade being one in which employee ownership is even more prominent as a route to succession via a model that provides sustainability and delivers business success that rewards the very people who create that success, the employees.”

EOTs were introduced in 2014, with the aim of fostering employee ownership while providing capital gains tax (CGT) advantages to business owners and income tax breaks to employees.  Overall, Scotland now has around 90 Scotland-headquartered employee-owned companies. Founder Carole Leslie has been working in the field of employee ownership since 2000, founded Ownership Associates in 2010 and has completed over 60 employee buyout deals.

Founding Director Carole Leslie said: “Industry research shows that employee ownership is growing faster in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK outside London. Covid-19 and recent changes to the tax regime are making EOTs increasingly attractive to business owners when they are considering an exit.  Merger and acquisition activity has suffered since the onset of the pandemic, while changes to the tax regime announced in the Budget earlier this year reduced Entrepreneurs’ Relief meaning a sale to an EOT, which is already free of Capital Gains Tax, has become even more beneficial.” 

Carole Leslie added: “What we’re continuing to see is that it’s often the case that a business owner doesn’t want to see the business in the hands of a competitor, preferring to protect local employment and loyal staff.  From a strategic point of view, employee-owned businesses generally outperform more conventionally structured firms on just about every business meausre.”  

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