Many small sized organizations prefer to have the Board approving route to make ESOP.  Big companies like Tata, Infosys, they either have a Compensation Committee or set up a Trust route to implement ESOP scheme.

For startups, Board of Directors route is best route, rather than creation of a Trust (per Indian Trusts Act)..

A Trust for ESOP works as follows:

  1. A Trust is formed under the Indian Trusts Act, and the Trust Deed is registered with the jurisdictional Sub-Registrar. 
  2. The ESOP Trust receives stock either from company by way of fresh allotment or by purchasing from existing shareholders in open market or the owner of the company may sell shares of his holding to the ESOP Trust. 
  3. The ESOP Trust usually obtains its funds through a loan either from a financial institution or from the seller or a combination of institutions and seller. A company can extend loan to the Trust for purchasing the Shares. There is a specific provision in the Companies Act, which permits such loan. (Sec. 77(2) (b) and (c)

The ESOP Trust then allots shares to employees on exercise of their right in exchange of cash and repays its loans.

TRUST SET BY THE COMPANY FOR THE BENEFIT OF EMPLOYEES:

  1. Shares of the company can be held by the Trustees is held as beneficial owners. Hence Form 22-B declaring beneficial ownership has to be filed with ROC. (Sec 153 of Companies Act).
  2. Board of Trustees is controlled by the Company (indirectly by being nominated as trustees).
  3. Company may give loan to the trust to buy shares (earmarked for ESOP) (U/s 77 of Companies Act).
  4. Trust uses the funds to buy shares of the Company.
  5. Employees of the Company are granted Options by the company.  Decision to grant Options is controlled by the Compensation Committee of the Company.
  6. On exercise of the Options, the trust transfers shares (held by it) to the employee.
  7. While transferring the shares to the employees by the trust, the Share Transfer Form (Form 7B) has to be executed by the Trust and the employee.
  8. The share transfer form has to be approved in the Board Meeting (BM) of the company and then the employee becomes a shareholder of the company. After which they are issued share certificates and the Register of Members is updated accordingly by the Company.
  9. If the options lapse due to separation, the options remain with the Trust and Trust can issue fresh grant letters for the remaining options (based on the decision of the Compensation Committee).
  10. The cash received on exercise (by the employee) is used to repay loan taken by the Trust.
  11. Compensation cost to be recorded as if the Options were granted directly by the Company.

Disclaimer:  This article is for informational purposes only. This is not a legal advice or opinion.

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