Caryn McNeill, Smith Anderson partner, participated in a panel discussion about non-stock investments in Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), including best practices for satisfying the ERISA diversification rules applicable to such investments. The program was part of the Annual Conference of the Carolinas Chapter of the ESOP Association and was held on August 28, 2008 in Pinehurst, NC. McNeill serves as a member of the Executive Committee of that group.
ESOPs are a special type of qualified retirement plan, the assets of which are permitted to be primarily invested in employer stock. Owners of closely-held businesses often sell to ESOPs to achieve liquidity without relinquishing control, while deferring tax on the resulting sales proceeds.