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Employee Buyout (EBO)


An Employee Buyout (EBO) is a financial transaction where employees purchase the company they work for, either in full or in substantial part. This can be facilitated through direct purchase or through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). EBOs usually occur when a business is facing financial challenges, or when the owners want to retire without selling their company to outsiders.


The phonetics for the keyword “Employee Buyout (EBO)” would be:”Employee” – /ɪmˈplɔɪ.i/”Buyout” – /ˈbaɪ.aʊt/”EBO” – /ˈiː.bəʊ/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Employee Buyout (EBO) is a business strategy that involves the employees of a company purchasing the business from the owner or the major shareholders. This allows the business to continue operating, while also giving the employees a significant stake in the company.</li> <li>There are several benefits to EBO. These include increased motivation and productivity as employees have a real stake in the business, tax advantages, potential for better retirement benefits, and opportunity for the owner to exit their investment. </li> <li>While there are advantages, EBO also has its risks and complexities. It requires careful planning and coordination since the employees will typically need to secure financing to purchase the company. It also requires a strong and efficient management team who can handle the transition and continue to drive the business forward.</li> </ol>


An Employee Buyout (EBO) is a significant concept in business and finance as it offers a strategic avenue for restructuring or transferring ownership of a company. This approach is especially important when a business owner, investor, or a financially struggling organization wishes to exit a business or minimize losses. EBOs are beneficial not only for them, but also for the workforce. They can save their jobs and gain an ownership stake in the company, which can lead to increased job satisfaction, commitment, and productivity. Moreover, EBOs support the continuity of business processes, preserve local economies and industry competition, and nurture an entrepreneurial spirit among employees, which are all crucial for the broader economic landscape.


An Employee Buyout (EBO) serves the key purpose of giving employees the chance to buy into the business they work for, essentially establishing an ownership stake. In scenarios where a business is struggling or the current business owner wishes to exit the business, an EBO may be considered. This allows the present employees, who have in-depth knowledge of the business and its workings, to take over control and management. They will be more likely to keep the business out of insolvency, save jobs and maintain business continuity. Secondly, EBOs are beneficial not just as a mode of survival for at-risk businesses but also as a means to incentivize employees. When employees become owners, it can result in enhanced motivation and productivity, as they stand to directly benefit from the company’s success. Additionally, it can foster a culture of collective decision-making and improve employee job satisfaction. By placing the opportunity for vested interest in the company directly in the hands of employees, EBOs can strengthen a company’s operations and potentially its financial standing in the long term.


1. United Airlines: One of the most notable examples of an Employee Buyout (EBO) took place back in 1994 when the airline United Airlines was bought out by its employees. The employees created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), contributing over $4.9 billion to acquire a 55% stake in the company. The goal was to help the struggling airline avoid bankruptcy and save jobs, although it ultimately faced a few challenges down the line.2. Harley-Davidson: In the early 1980s, an Employee Buyout (EBO) helped rescue Harley-Davidson from pending bankruptcy. Thirteen senior executives from Harley-Davidson raised $80 million to buy the company from AMF Incorporated. A considerable portion of this was financed through employee pension funds with the consent of the employees in hope of saving the company and their jobs. 3. Weirton Steel Corporation: This steel company was struggling under the parent organization National Steel Corporation. In 1984, in an attempt to save the company from shutdown, the employees came together and conducted an Employee Buyout (EBO) through an ESOP and formed the Weirton Steel Corporation. This made it the largest employee-owned company in the U.S at that time.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Employee Buyout (EBO)?

An Employee Buyout (EBO) is a financial strategy where the employees of a company purchase the company’s stock to gain control and become the owners.

How does an employee buyout work?

In an EBO, the employees together or through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), buy the company’s shares. The purchase can be financed through internal funds, borrowed funds, or a combination of both. Once the transaction is complete, the employees become the owners of the company.

What are the advantages of an Employee Buyout?

For employees, buyouts can offer increased control over their work environment, a direct stake in the company’s performance, and potentially increased job security. For companies, it provides a way to retain experienced employees, maintain business continuity, and can be a feasible exit strategy for retiring owners.

What are the downsides of an Employee Buyout?

Since the employees become owners, risks associated with ownership such as business failure are transferred to them. Financing the purchase also often requires substantial borrowing, which can financially strain the company.

Is an Employee Buyout same as a Management Buyout (MBO)?

While both involve the purchase of company’s shares, they are not the same. In an MBO, the management team buys the company and takes control, whereas in an EBO, the ownership is transferred to the broader group of employees, not just the management.

What is Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)?

An ESOP is a type of employee benefit plan which is designed to invest primarily in the employer’s stock. Through ESOPs, companies often facilitate EBOs, providing employees an easy way to purchase the company’s stock.

Does an EBO change the company’s business operations?

Not necessarily. While ownership changes, the core business operations usually stay the same. However, the company may see changes in the organizational culture and decision-making process as employees become owners.

Can any company go for an EBO?

While theoretically any company can consider an EBO, it is more common in smaller, closely-held companies where employees can feasibly acquire majority share. It’s important for companies to thoroughly assess the potential financial and operational impacts before pursuing an EBO.

Related Finance Terms

  • Severance Package: A group of pay and benefits that employees receive when they leave employment at a company involuntarily.
  • Shareholder Value: The value that a stakeholder or investor would receive if the company was liquidated.
  • Stock Options: Contracts that give an employee the right to buy or sell a stock at a specific price within a particular time period.
  • Management Buyout (MBO): A transaction where a company’s management team purchases the assets and operations of the business they manage.
  • Private Equity: A type of investment consisting of funds directly invested in private companies or in the buyout of public companies to take them private, managed by the investment firm.

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