My heartiest and heartfelt congratulations to Clif Bar & Company and its employees on their landmark agreement to sell to Mondelēz International! The natural energy, nutrition and snack bar maker – 20% owned by its employees – sold itself for $2.9 billion, with additional earnout possibilities.
Clif Bar and Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, its husband-and-wife owners and co-Chief Visionary Officers, have been our friends for over a dozen years. I was privileged to work with Clif Bar when they established a 20% ESOP plan in Spring 2010 through the sale of family-owned common stock and have maintained ties ever since.
The expected acquisition of Clif Bar and other major employee-ownership developments convince me that my assertion over a year ago is materializing that this this will be “The Decade of the ESOP.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, we have seen a rise in employee ownership. This has been buoyed by PE firms, led by global investment giant KKR & CO, and Long Point Capital, among others, using a broad-based employee engagement model that, for KKR in particular, seeks to make every worker in a U.S. manufacturer it acquires a participant in the success of the company they work for.
We’re seeing a growing number of states establishing state ESOP centers to help family-owned and other companies secure the benefits of employee-ownership. And last December, after Congress acted to make 100% ESOPs eligible for sole-source follow-on government contracts, President Biden signed into law the first-ever government contracting program to specifically encourage ESOPs. The law also dedicates funds to improve education about employee ownership. (That Jared Bernstein, a…