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PRESS RELEASE – To help develop shareholder foundations in France, Prophil and DELSOL Avocats launch the first practical guide for entrepreneurs

In the context of the “Parliament for the Future”, Prophil and DELSOL Avocats present the first practical guide to shareholder foundations. It is aimed at entrepreneurs who would like to explore more virtuous models of governance that serve the common good.

Particularly well-established in Northern Europe, shareholder foundations are a virtuous model of corporate protection, governance and ownership. In France, at a time when the PACTE law (action plan for business growth and transformation) is opening up new avenues for increasing businesses’ contribution to the common good, this model is gradually emerging ; it draws on existing statutes under French law.

"A large number of entrepreneurs - owners of SMEs or mid-market companies, family shareholders, founders of startups - are looking for new governance and transmission schemes that protect their company and combine a dual economic and public interest remit," explains Virginie Seghers, CEO of Prophil. "Our goal is to make the advantages of shareholder foundations more widely known and encourage their use through this guide, alongside training courses and study trips. With this in mind, Prophil has also established De Facto, a dynamic shareholder foundation initiative, which already numbers around a dozen French pioneers."

By presenting a detailed analysis of the mechanisms used, first-hand accounts from pioneers and practical tools, the “Journey to the Land of Shareholder Foundations” guide covers all the strategic, legal and asset-related issues involved in this type of corporate transformation.

“A shareholder foundation is a highly relevant model for entrepreneurs wanting to contribute to the common good," says Xavier DELSOL, co-founder and President of the law firm DELSOL Avocats. Some candidates are discouraged by the technical, legal and fiscal constraints specific to France, but there are a number of solutions available and various statutes are able to meet the expectations of interested entrepreneurs. With this guide, we help entrepreneurs ask themselves the right questions, test their motives and give them sound advice on how to get started and make a success of this transformation".

In order to become concretely immersed in this transformation process, next spring a Master Class will be offered to entrepreneurs and anyone interested in this forward-looking model.

Publication and presentation of the guide “Journey to the Land of Shareholder Foundations” on 22 January during the Parliament of the Future at the OECD.
Round table "Shareholders for good, journey to the land of shareholder foundations" at 4pm with Virginie SEGHERS, Xavier DELSOL and entrepreneurs engaged on the approach.

About shareholder foundations :
A shareholder foundation consists of a business owner donating a significant part of its shares and/or voting rights to a foundation or similar structure. It is a generic term, which in France can take various legal forms, none of which is as yet specifically dedicated : endowment fund, foundation recognised as a public utility (FRUP) or sustainability fund.

As a stable long-term shareholder, a foundation protects the company and guides its strategy in accordance with the mission entrusted to it. On one hand, it safeguards the capital in France, protects jobs, strengthens employee commitment and plays the role of guarantor of the founding principles.
On the other hand, in line with the wishes of its founders, it supports general interest causes through the dividends it receives, and potentially through other philanthropic resources.

Although there are more than 1300 shareholder foundations in Denmark (Velux, Carlsberg, NovoNordisk), 1000 in Germany (Bosch, Bertelsmann, Playmobil, etc.), 100 in Switzerland (Rolex, Victorinox, etc.), the model is only just beginning to develop in France, where it is attracting enterprises of all sizes and from all sectors : from startups (Go Job) to consulting firms (Seabird), from industrialists (Naos, Archimbaud, Ulterïa) to retailers (Bureau Vallée). It also responds to the challenges of independence and protection in the media sector (Mediapart, La Montagne) and those of organic agriculture where ten companies have recently joined forces to create the Bio-Perennis multi-shareholder endowment fund. Alongside the few FRUP shareholders (Pierre Fabre, Avril), these new players, who have chosen the endowment fund model, demonstrate the attraction of a new generation for this means of transmission, which is also interesting entrepreneurs in the social and solidarity economy (such as Vitamin T and the Digital Parenting Foundation).

About Prophil

Prophil is a strategy consultancy specializing in businesses’ contribution to the common good. Prophil’s activities revolve around two complementary areas :
- PROPHIL RESEARCH : with academic partners, it aims to develop inspiring business and governance models for forward looking entrepreneurs.
- PROPHIL CONSULTANCY : assists entrepreneurs, investors, families and foundations in projects to combine economic performance and social utility.
In particular, Prophil has forged the concepts of "shareholder foundation" and "company with a mission" and assists pioneering entrepreneurs in their drive to transform and make an impact.

About DELSOL Avocats

DELSOL Avocats is a firm of nearly 130 lawyers and experts.
Its aim is to meet all the legal and judiciary needs of the national and international aspects of business.
Driven by strong convictions, it supports, advises and defends a broad range of clients including industrial and service companies, financial institutions, non-profit organisations and public authorities.
Organised into departments, DELSOL Avocats regularly sets up multidisciplinary groups to work on complex operations, particularly in the area of support in setting up the first shareholder foundations.

About De Facto

Launched on the initiative of Prophil in 2018, De Facto (European initiative in support of shareholder foundations) brings together pioneering French entrepreneurs who transfer all or part of their business to a shareholder foundation, regardless of its legal status. De Facto is inspired by the leading European countries (Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany) and brings together a network of European partners and experts.
For more information and to order the guide :