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Selling Company Shares to Reluctant Employees: France Télécom's Experience

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  • Degeorge, François
  • Jenter, Dirk
  • Moel, Alberto
  • Tufano, Peter

Abstract

In 1997, France Télécom, the French telecommunications firm, went through a partial privatization. The government offered current and prior France Télécom employees the opportunity to buy portfolios of shares with various combinations of discounts, required holding periods, and levels of downside protection. We adapt a neoclassical model of investment decision-making that takes into account firm-specific human capital and holding period restrictions to predict how employees might respond to the share offers. Using a new database that tracks over 200,000 eligible participants, we analyse the employees' characteristics and their decisions regarding (a) whether to participate; (b) how much to invest; and (c) what form of stock alternatives they selected. The results are broadly consistent with the neoclassical model. However, the amount of funds invested in the stock plans seems driven by a different set of forces than the decision to participate. While former employees and retirees are less likely to participate in the offering, they tend to invest more than others conditional on participating. We suspect that this phenomenon reflects a 'threshold effect', which we attempt to measure. Employees forewent benefits equal to one to two months' salary by failing to participate. Finally, we find that the characteristics of the average chosen portfolios are broadly consistent with theoretical predictions from our neoclassical model, but almost all potential participants underweighted the most valuable asset, a decision hard to reconcile with rational portfolio choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Degeorge, François & Jenter, Dirk & Moel, Alberto & Tufano, Peter, 2000. "Selling Company Shares to Reluctant Employees: France Télécom's Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 2483, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2483
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    Cited by:

    1. Aubert, Nicolas & Garnotel, Guillaume & Lapied, André & Rousseau, Patrick, 2014. "Employee ownership: A theoretical and empirical investigation of management entrenchment vs. reward management," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 423-434.
    2. Nicolas Aubert, 2006. "Understanding Employer's Stock Holdings in the French Company Savings Plans Using the Literature on the American 401(k) plans," Post-Print halshs-00188518, HAL.
    3. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 869-904, April.
    4. Sautner, Zacharias & Weber, Martin, 2005. "Stock options and employee behavior," Papers 05-26, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    5. Francisco Gomes & Alex Michaelides, 2003. "(UBS Pensions series 20) Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," FMG Discussion Papers dp474, Financial Markets Group.
    6. Alexander Klos & Martin Weber, 2006. "Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Non-Tradable Income: An Experimental Analysis," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7, pages 427-448, November.
    7. Sautner, Zacharias & Weber, Martin, 2005. "Subjective Stock Option Values and Exercise Decisions: Determinants and Consistency," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 05-31, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    8. Thomas Rapp & Nicolas Aubert, 2011. "Bank Employee Incentives and Stock Purchase Plans Participation," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 185-203, December.
    9. Nicolas Aubert & Bernard Grand & André Lapied & Patrick Rousseau, 2009. "Is employee ownership so senseless," Finance, Presses universitaires de Grenoble, vol. 30(2), pages 5-29.
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    12. Nicolas Aubert & Thomas Rapp, 2010. "Employee's investment behaviors in a company based savings plan," Finance, Presses universitaires de Grenoble, vol. 31(1), pages 5-32.
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    17. Philippe Desbrières, 2002. "Les actionnaires salariés," Working Papers CREGO 1021101, Université de Bourgogne - CREGO EA7317 Centre de recherches en gestion des organisations.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital And Ownership Structure; Financing Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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